THE MYSTERIES: How can only 19,000 protein coding genes -shared by all humans- produce the absolute abundance of unique individual diversity
called the human species? And - how can we share most of those genes with other animals and still be so different?
The latest research published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics
the number of human genes -those that can generate
proteins- is 19,000.
Not 20,700. Definitely not 100,000. Just 19,000. It also concludes, "almost all of these genes have ancestors prior to the
appearance of primates 50 million years ago."
How can that be?
Genes code for proteins and every protein has a specific function, which is determined by the protein's shape. A central dogma of molecular biology
is that a protein molecule has one shape that predestines a single biological function.
BUT. Proteins misfold, and those with exactly the same amino acids -but different shapes- do very different things. Like prions. Also like prions,
differently shaped proteins often cause diseases.
HOWEVER. At least one protein -the Ebola virus VP40 "transformer" protein
three different shapes during its assembly process to fulfill three completely different functions. The same protein, different shapes, different
effects. That's how it works.
STILL. If we have only 19,000 protein-coding genes that produce only 19,000 proteins with only 19,000 specific shapes, we cannot exist in all our
diversity. No way. You do the math. The numbers don't add up.
Maybe, like the Ebola virus VP40 "transformer" protein, human proteins shapeshift too. Maybe that's how epigenetic mechanisms are supposed
work - by changing a protein's shape after
it's produced according to the genetic code - changing the protein's function - and creating layer
upon layer of diversity, protein by protein. Maybe proteins are supposed
to respond to the environment by shapeshifting and doing the job
that's required in the moment, for the moment
This could explain how humans have such a multitude of unique characteristics despite having only a relatively limited number of genes.
Of course, this means we all need to be very, very careful what we do to our personal, local and global environments - because our environmental
exposures determine what happens to -and with- the proteins our genes produce, and how they function.
….So much to learn. So little time.
Size Of Human Genome Reduced To 19,000
A study led by Alfonso Valencia, Vice-Director of Basic Research at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and head of the Structural
Computational Biology Group, and Michael Tress, researcher at the Group, updates the number of human genes –those that can generate proteins– to
19,000; 1,700 fewer than the genes in the most recent annotation, and well below the initial estimations of 100,000 genes. The work, published in the
journal Human Molecular Genetics, concludes that almost all of these genes have ancestors prior to the
appearance of primates 50 million years ago.
Scripps Research Institute Scientists Reveal How Deadly Ebola Virus
...the study showed that the same molecule that assembles and releases new viruses also rearranges itself into different shapes, with each shape
controlling a different step of the virus’s life cycle.
“Like a ‘Transformer’, this protein of the Ebola virus adopts different shapes for different functions,” said Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D.,
professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at TSRI. “It revises a central dogma of molecular biology—that a protein molecule
has one shape that predestines one biological function."
…This “shape-shifting” or “transformer” behavior explains how the Ebola virus can control a multi-step viral lifecycle using only a very
limited number of genes.
edit on 7/7/14 by soficrow because: tinker