There are approximately 20,000 pseudogenes in the human and other mammalian genomes. In recent years, there has been growing discussion about the nature of these pseudogenes. The issue centers on whether pseudogenes are functional or merely evolutionary relics with no function. It was long believed by geneticists that they were relics, until basic science research published in 2003 found a mouse pseudogene located within the Makorin family of genes that did have a function, namely to cause polycystic kidney disease and a bone disease known as osteogenesis imperfecta.
This finding, discovered in a mouse model, was hailed by proponents of “Intelligent Design” (ID). According to the Intelligent Design Network, the premise of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a disagreement with the core scientific basis of evolutionary theory.
However, researchers at Children’s and the Wadsworth Center in New York, including first author Todd A. Gray, PhD, have found scientific evidence that contradicts this finding. The pseudogene in question – Mkrn1-p1 – indeed is not the cause of those diseases, according to senior author Robert D. Nicholls, DPhil, director of the Birth Defects Laboratories at Children’s. Instead, according to Dr. Nicholls, it merely is an inactive copy of a gene, an evolutionary relic as previously believed.
Results of this study are published in the Aug. 8 print issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Click here to view the abstract.
“Discussion over evolution and Intelligent Design really has centered on whether pseudogenes, sometimes called ‘junk DNA,’ have a function or not. The suggestion is that an Intelligent Designer would not make junk DNA, so if a pseudogene does have a function, this is claimed to support the idea of an Intelligent Designer,” Dr. Nicholls said. “But there is no evidence that any of the 20,000 pseudogenes are functional. Our research proves this Makorin pseudogene does not have a function. It has continued to mutate over its short life of a few million years, a fact that supports evolution, and eventually will be discarded from the mouse genome.”
But the most important implication of this research from a patient perspective is that scientists now must go back to the beginning in terms of discovering the genetic mechanism that causes polycystic kidney disease and osteogenesis imperfecta in the mouse model, according to Dr. Nicholls.
Marc Lukasiak | EurekAlert!
A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates
20.08.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology