Jumping Genes Make Brains Unique

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Jumping genes make brains unique, according to reports in ScienceNOW 15 June 2005, Nature Vol 435, p903 and New Scientist 18 June 2005, p21. Jumping genes are pieces of DNA that can spontaneously move from one place in the genome to another. When they insert themselves into a new part of the genome they can change the activity of the genes in that place. Ever since they were first discovered they were considered to be useless parasites or remnants from ancient viruses that have been gradually acquired over millions of years of random evolution, because they seem to jump about in an unpredictable pattern and can cause problems when they move.

A group of researchers at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California have been studying the cells that develop into brain cells during embryonic development and noticed that a type of jumping gene, called L1 retrotransposons, were active in cells that were developing into neurones - the cells that process information in the brain, but not in other cells. Fred Gage, who led the study, suggested that the activity of L1 genes could change the proportions of different neurones in the brain and their activity, resulting in differences in brain function between individuals. This would help explain why even identical twins have different personalities and abilities, even though they start out with the same genes.

Other scientists who study transposons are not convinced. Haig Kazazian of University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said it would be surprising if the LI jumping gene proves to be important in brain development. "These are genetic parasites as far as we know, and we never thought they might have a function like this," he commented. "It has the potential to open a new paradigm, but it is not there yet."

Editorial Comment: The reason for the genetic parasite view is that transposons can jump into the wrong places and wreck some genes, or turn them on at the wrong time. Both outcomes can cause serious diseases like cancer, so it was assumed that transposons were the result of millions of years of blind evolutionary blundering, and they were simply the price we paid for having evolved the most.

Here we have another example of evolutionary assumptions being a hindrance to science, not a help. Genesis is a much better place to start for understanding transposons. Genesis tells us the world was created with plan and purpose, and it was originally very good, therefore it is reasonable to assume that transposons originally had a useful function, such as the one proposed by the research above. However, the world did not stay very good - it has degenerated considerably following the Fall of Man and Noah's flood, and the human genome has taken a battering. As a result we can propose that some transposons don't work properly any more, and they can move to the wrong place and wreak havoc.

Therefore, we suggest the Salk Institute scientists try this paradigm for understanding their results, i.e. that each human being is meant to be a unique creation with a heritage "in the image of God", and transposons are one means for making each brain unique. Creation Research predicts that if biologists studied the human genome from the Creation followed by Degeneration paradigm, they would find that most of the genome has a useful function, and the parts that don't will show signs of having been useful in the past, but have been damaged. (Ref. assumptions, genetics, paradigm, prediction)

q_and_a2
crc_youtube
outdoor_museum_panel
free_audio2