A Dented Wristwatch

Complete single mutagenesis in the proteinMore than a month ago now Jeffrey Tomkins published a DpSU on the ICR’s website called Study Shows Proteins Cannot Evolve. He also posted it on his own blog, Designed DNA, a couple of days later as he often does. Because it appeared the last day before exams I didn’t have much time to write anything more than a recommendation that you compare Tomkins’ article with a blogpost by fellow young Earth creationist Todd Wood on the same subject.

However, it appears that somebody else got in contact with Tomkins about it as on November 22 he published another post on his blog (have I mentioned that I still have a couple of posts from last month to do? I still have a couple of posts from last month to do), called Are Bigger Proteins More Favorable to Evolution? He opened:

I recently wrote an article discussing a recent research paper that showed how proteins contain non-negotiable sectors that are intolerant of amino acid changes and that when the other protein sectors that may tolerate such changes are altered, the changes often reduce quality of protein function. The 3-dimensional structure that proteins fold into, is also affected by the sequence of amino acids.

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Hiatus Report

Exams are over (until November) and it’s time to return to blogging. I wonder what I missed?

Surprisingly little, it would seem. While for the other creationist outfits that I’m more aware of the last week or two have been dominated by the continued fallout from both the Bill Nye videos and the ENCODE results, I would probably have been rather bored with the Institute if I weren’t otherwise preoccupied. They haven’t really done much on their main site, and they haven’t managed to make up for it elsewhere. Continue reading

Disposable DNA

Skip ahead to the ENCODE stuff if you don’t care for the Tomkins posts.

For his blog post for this week (or last, depending on how you look at it) Jeffrey Tomkins wrote Deleting “Junk DNA” – Does it Matter? I’ll let him explain some of the background:

Does deleting “Junk DNA” in laboratory studies, such as in mice make a difference? Interestingly, a colleague of mine just recently pointed out a paper in which exactly this type of research was undertaken. In fact the study is a few years old, and was done in 2004. However, after a search of the literature, I have not been able to find anything similar.

Because this paper, however, shows up prominently on the web as some sort of proof for “Junk DNA”. I felt that a brief review of the facts that were actually discovered in the research are in order.

I don’t think I’d ever come across the paper – Megabase deletions of gene deserts result in viable mice (pdf) – before, actually. But it does look like it could be useful in future. Let’s see if Tomkins can persuade me against it, shall we? Continue reading

Ultraconserved Elements

Another Jeffrey Tomkins post on Designed DNA? Oh, why not.

This one is called Ultraconserved DNA Elements – An Evolutionary Enigma. What are they?

Ultraconserved DNA elements are short chunks of genomic sequence 200 bases or more that are highly similar (conserved) among different types of animals and are generally noncoding (1,2). Hence, they should have very little evolutionary selective pressure acting upon them and evolve rapidly (3).

The first sentence there is correct, or as near to as needs to be,* while the second is not – and with that this post falls immediately. Continue reading

Pre-emptive Strike: Neanderthal Double-Think

Neanderthals: Human, yet differentDoing the science blogosphere rounds is a paper in PNASEffect of ancient population structure on the degree of polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient hominins, pdf available here – that claims that the observed differences in genetic similarity with Neanderthals between Eurasians and Africans can be explained entirely by the population structure of ancient Africa and without recourse to interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans leaving the continent. This has received a fair bit of flack from said blogs – first because the media were allowed to publish articles on the paper some time before it was actually released, but later on the grounds that the paper was “obsolete.” Continue reading