Skip to comments.The Human Methylome: What Do These Patterns Mean? (high state of living cell's design "astonishing")
Posted on 10/22/2009 10:13:30 AM PDT by GodGunsGuts
The Human Methylome: What Do These Patterns Mean?
by Brian Thomas, M.S.*
For decades, researchers have noticed that tiny chemicals called “methyl groups” piggyback on DNA molecules, and that they occur in certain patterns. Intrigued by the meaning and function of methylation patterns, especially as they relate to medicine, a five-year, $ 190-million-dollar research effort funded by the National Institutes of Health began in 2008. In one of its studies, researchers have stumbled upon a new intricacy of cell function.
Joseph Ecker of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies led a collaboration to generate the world’s first complete map of human methylation patterns, called the “methylome.” This conveys genetic information beyond the well-known patterns in DNA bases.1
Previous studies showed that DNA methylation helps cells with “gene regulation, DNA-protein interactions, cellular differentiation, suppression of transposable elements, embryogenesis, X-inactivation, genomic imprinting and tumorigenesis.”2 Ecker said in a Salk Institute press release that this new study “will lead to a better understanding of how genome function is regulated in health and disease but also how gene expression is influenced by diet and the environment.”3
Some of the team’s results confirmed what researchers had suspected. For example, in embryonic stem cells, DNA was more densely “methylated”—or covered with methyl groups—than in a differentiated cell. Also, they found less methylation in areas where DNA interacts with proteins. These observations indicate that precise regions of DNA are more thickly covered with methyl groups in order to isolate them from use by the cell. This way, the correct proteins are manufactured at just the right time.
However, they also found unexpected methylation patterns. One type, called “CG Methylation,” was long known to occur. Another category, “non-CG methylation,” was thought to be insignificant, but this study reported that stem cells have “highly expressed genes containing threefold higher non-CG methylation density than non-expressed genes.”3 Thus, biologists now have to sort out yet another cellular mechanism that, like most of the human genome, they understand is important but aren’t quite sure why.4
Those who keep up with cell science often cannot help but be impressed with the high state of design they observe in the cell. For example, after studying DNA transcript regulation, researchers Melissa Moore and Nick Proudfoot recently concluded,
At every point along the way, multifunctional proteins and [ribonucleoprotein] complexes facilitate communication between upstream and downstream steps, providing both feedforward and feedback information essential for proper coordination of what can only be described as an intricate and astonishing web of regulation.5
In like manner, these methylome studies confirm “a highly dynamic, yet tightly controlled, landscape” essential to proper regulation of certain cell processes.3
The living world is full of features small yet robust, and well-regulated yet elegant. It is therefore quite natural to ascribe their origins to a transcendent Creator. It is increasingly difficult in light of ongoing scientific discovery to ignore the fact that “the LORD thy maker…hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.”6
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on October 22, 2009.
You haven’t had enough of your slanderous personal attack posts pulled yet?
Thanks for the ping!
Isn’t Darwin’s natural selection god amazing!
You liken Christians to the Taliban, and you call what I say about your inebriated viciousness slanderous? Please!
9th commandment doesn’t apply to you, eh?
==He’s my hero.
Yeah right, kind of like Milton Friedman is arnold schwarzenegger’s hero...yuck!
Yup... all started with a gigantic explosion too!
I can't wait until I see them all facing the Creator himself...
What is the breaking news that has it placed in that forum?
Methylation of DNA and histones and acetylation of histones has been known for decades. Must be a slow day at the IRC or Brian Thomas M S * got tired of ogling the picture of Ardi.
Ah yes, the weak anthropic principle. Lovely.
"This is exactly the same as saying, "Gee whiz, that hole in the sidewalk is amazing. It's the perfect size for that puddle!""
This is exactly the same as saying, "Jiminy Cricket! Carbon atoms self-assembled into cells and organisms because carbon atoms have an affinity for self-assembling into cells and organisms!"
Yep, it is amazing that God would set into motion all of these intricate processes to play out over billions of years. Billions you say! Not 6 days? I didn’t know that God was constrained by time. For that matter, I didn’t know that God had so little power that he could not make this vast universe and allow for such a concept as evolution. Why just a few hundred years ago it was mandated that we all believe that the universe revolved around earth and that the idea of manned flight was witchcraft. Is it that hard to see the work of God in the intracacies of the universe and all of creation. You are free to believe what you want and if that is in an oft rewritten and incomplete set of pre-new testament writings then you are welcome to worship the writings rather than God and his wonderous works of nature. I will applaud you but I will continue to believe in the magnitude of God’s greatness in evolution, geologic processes and the wonder of man’s God-given intellect by which he can recognize that there is a divine creator who is behind all of these wonders. You might want spend more time understanding the lessons brought to us by Christ to replace the old testament with His message of hope.
Do you believe that “God's greatness in evolution” should be taught in the classroom?
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