Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Transposons: No Longer the Maligned DNA Family Member

An evolution News & Views blog entry of Casey Luskin entitled 'Biologists Report Important Gene Regulation Function for Transposons' has a lesson to impart about rendering premature judgements based on prejudice inducing paradigms. From the linked blog entry:

"Transposons are a type of DNA which many Darwinists have written off as mere genetic junk. The pro-Darwin TalkOrigins archive tells us that transposons "can be thought of as intragenomic parasites." But don’t feel bad for the poor transposons — it looks like they might be looking at a new career as “the DNA formerly known as junk": biologists from Stanford and UC Santa Cruz are reporting that "'Junk' DNA Now Looks Like Powerful Regulator."

That type of "junk" is the transposon. As the press release about the study explains, "Large swaths of garbled human DNA once dismissed as junk appear to contain some valuable sections." The scientists report that in the past, they "had identified a handful of transposons that seemed to regulate nearby genes. However, it wasn't clear how common the phenomenon might be. 'Now we've shown that transposons may be a major vehicle for evolutionary novelty.'…" Taking off the "evolutionary" spin, the translation is: they think transposons play important roles in gene regulation."

Of course almost everything we observe in organisms is attributed to a selected genomic accident. There is no change here. However the rogue genomic elements concept has at least been adjusted with a story of subsequent taming.

"According to the press release, however, it has taken scientists decades to investigate and validate this function—a lot longer than it should have: "Bejerano and his colleagues aren't the first to suggest that transposons play a role in regulating nearby genes. In fact, Nobel laureate Barbara McClintock, PhD, who first discovered transposons, proposed in 1956 that they could help determine the timing for when nearby genes turn on and off."

Apparently this idea was stalled out due to the evolutionary assumption, á la Talk Origins, that they are nothing more than useless "intragenomic parasites." Yet it was as far back as 1990 that pro-ID scientist and Discovery Institute fellow Forrest Mims had warned in a letter to Science against assuming that "junk" DNA was "useless" (scroll to the bottom of the page to see the letter). Science wouldn't publish his letter, but it now appears that another prediction of intelligent design has been validated."

The refusal to publish the letter looks damning with hindsight. But why publish the views of one who bucks the tide of conventional thinking? Darwinists can be insufferably arrogant.



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