An Exaptated Pseudogene

Appropriately, for this attempt to return to timely updates, the first new DpSU – Pseudogene Plays Important Role in Cell Cycle, by Jeffrey Tomkins – is again related to junk DNA, just as the last one I did was about ENCODE. This article, however, is of the old type – it’s about a genetic feature, once “dismissed as junk DNA,” that has now been shown to have a function. Or, to quote Tomkins:

Once again, DNA sequence that was once thought to be nothing but a genomic fossil has shown itself to be vital to human survival. In this case, if the so-called pseudogene is not functioning properly, cell cycle dysfunction and cancer is the almost certain outcome.

A pseudogene looks like a gene – often another gene in the same organism – but has lost its original protein-coding function. The pseudogene of interest here is called “ψPPM1K,” and is a processed pseudogene. To make such a gene a normal gene (here, PPM1K) is transcribed into mRNA and the introns are stripped out as normal in the process of protein synthesis. However, instead of progressing further the mRNA is transcribed back into DNA which is inserted back into the chromosome. The result is a partial clone of the original gene, generally lacking introns and possibly other parts. Continue reading

Catch-up Time

The Great 2013 Catch-upIt has indeed been a while – more than a month since I last posted, and much more than that since I was properly up-to-date. It’s time to get back to that, and time to try to get caught up with what I missed.

So, I’m launching a project: my aim is to publish one catch-up post per day, starting tomorrow morning (my time), until I run out. I haven’t actually counted how many ICR articles there are that I need to do something on yet, so we may be here for some time. The posts will be of varying length – I’ve taken so long to get back in the saddle in part because a good-sized amount of the stuff put out by the ICR lately just hasn’t been all that interesting, but there are gems here and there. All catchup posts will be marked with the image to the right (at least until I decide that it looks horrible) and will be in this category. I’ll start by taking the DpSUs in reverse chronological order, and we’ll see how it goes from there.

I haven’t been entirely unproductive in my absence. You may remember that it was around the time that I last posted that Google announced the demise of it’s Reader, and since then I’ve decided that The Old Reader fits the bill as a replacement perfectly. I’ve also followed the lead of patheos blogger James McGrath and started sharing some of the things I read, sometimes with brief commentary: my “TOR” profile is here, and the rss feed can be found here if you don’t use that system but still want to follow. (N.B.: My sharings aren’t quite as cerebral as McGrath’s, with topics ranging from creationism to webcomics – and yes, there’s plenty of overlap there.) Does anyone else do the same thing? I’m very interested in adding to my “following” folder. I may also replace the “YOM tweets” feed down below and to the right with this, but I haven’t decided either way.

The other project I’ve been working on is an attempt, over at RationalWiki, to annotate the transcript of the Kitzmiller trial. It’s a lot of work, and it’s going to take us a very long time, so help would be appreciated. I’ve also been doing schoolwork, but that’s not all that interesting.