Thursday, August 27, 2009


Ready ... Aim ... Comedy

Uh, oh! Now they've done it!

Before long we'll have another of Casey Luskin's attempts on science (like an attempt on someone's life ... except where the attacker winds up hurting only himself).

Wired Science is reporting on a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows that protein-transporting systems in eucaryotic cell are not irreducibly complex:

"This analysis of protein transport provides a blueprint for the evolution of cellular machinery in general," write the researchers, led by molecular biologist Trevor Lithgow at Australia's Monash University. "The complexity of these machines is not irreducible."

When they analyzed the genomes of proteobacteria, the family that spawned the ancestors of mitochondria, Lithgow's team found two of the protein parts used in mitochondria to make TIM23 [the transport system].

The parts are located on bacterial cell membranes, making them ideally positioned for TIM23's eventual protein-delivering role. Only one other part, a molecule called LivH, would make a rudimentary protein-transporting machine — and LivH is commonly found in proteobacteria. ...

"It hasn't been possible up until this point to trace any of those proteins back to a bacterial ancestor," said Dalhousie University cell biologist Michael Gray, one of the researchers who originally described the origins of mitochondria, but was not involved in the new study. "These three proteins don't perform precisely the same function in proteobacteria, but with a simple mutation could be transformed into a simple protein transport machine that could start the whole thing off."

Soon we will be subjected to another of Luskin's comedy-laden "science" fests where the greatest danger will be split sides.

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