Hidden DNA code found, according to articles in Nature, vol. 465, p45 and ScienceDaily, 6 May 2010.

When the human genome was completely sequenced, geneticists only found around 20,000 genes, but studies of cellular processes in different body tissues indicated there was much more genetic information being used to make the body function. The solution to the problem seemed to lie in the fact that genes consist of multiple segments that can be used in different combinations. For genetic information to be used, a working copy of the whole gene is made on a molecule named pre-messenger RNA. The segments of code needed for a particular purpose are then cut out of this and spliced together to form messenger RNA, which is sent to the cellular machinery to be used to make a protein.

Brendan Frey and Benjamin Blencowe of the University of Toronto have developed a computer-assisted biological analysis method to find “biological rules” within the genome that control this mixing and matching process. This “splicing code” means that many different messages can be generated from the same information stored on each gene. Therefore, a relatively small number of genes can provide enormous amounts of information needed for all the complex functions of the body. For example, the researchers suggest “three neurexin genes can generate over 3,000 genetic messages that help control the wiring of the brain.” When the splicing code is fully understood it may help medical scientists predict or prevent diseases such as cancers and nerve cell destroying disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Frey explained: “Previously, researchers couldn’t predict how the genetic messages would be rearranged, or spliced, within a living cell. The splicing code that we discovered has been successfully used to predict how thousands of genetic messages are rearranged differently in many different tissues.”

Frey and Blencowe’s project involved close collaboration between biologists and computer scientists. Frey commented: “Understanding a complex biological system is like understanding a complex electronic circuit. Our team ‘reverse-engineered’ the splicing code using large-scale experimental data generated by the group.”


Editorial Comment: Neat eh? Like having a 26 letter alphabet that can be spliced together in different ways to make words which can then be spliced together in different combinations to make instruction sentences all organised from outside the alphabet. But did you see it – this study exposes the biggest problem for origin of life studies: the genetic letters are not the information and the genetic words are not the information, so where did the genetic information to put them into the so important final genetic instruction sentences come from – originally?

Observing how it functions and even describing it does not answer this question. You want a clue? Information is always the product of mind – not matter.

Evidence News, 23 June 2010

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