Design in DNA: Flexibility Is Just Right | The Institute for Creation Research
Design in DNA: Flexibility Is Just Right

Researchers are still uncovering the amazing properties of DNA, the long molecule used by living systems to carry information. It is the densest data storage system known. With all that biological information packed into such a tiny space, shouldn't it be difficult to access or copy?

One reason that DNA can be so readily accessed by special proteins within cells is because DNA is able to flex without breaking. A team of physicists at the Institut Laue-Langevin recently investigated the flexibility of DNA by measuring how well it conducts sound waves. Their results were published in Physical Review Letters.

In a press release, ILL physicist Mark Johnson said, "We are essentially measuring the speed of sound in DNA which gives you a direct measurement of its structural flexibility."1 His team found that DNA has "a force constant of 83 N/m," close to that of nylon.2

This fundamental property enables DNA to be manipulated by proteins in multiple vital processes. For example, when DNA is copied, protein complexes race down its length, splitting the DNA double-helix like a zipper so that each resulting single strand can be quickly formed into a new double-stranded molecule. This occurs at jet-engine speeds, requiring DNA to have significant strength!3 If copying occurred much slower, then cells would not survive the wait.

Similarly, DNA is forcefully and rapidly unwound and scanned when RNA is manufactured. The protein complex that makes RNA molecules using DNA sequences as templates was referred to as a "molecular juggernaut" in a recent report in the journal Cell.4 Yet DNA is strong and flexible enough to withstand these hourly rigors.

The elasticity of DNA must fall within a limited range. If it were too stretchy, it would deform so much that essential proteins would not be able to latch on to or even recognize it. If it were too brittle, it would snap under the constant stresses of cellular life.

Thus, not only does the information on DNA demand an intelligent source, but so does the very construction of this remarkable molecule.

References

  1. Neutron scattering confirms DNA is as stretchy as nylon. Institut Laue-Langevin press release, via Alpha-Galileo, September 8, 2011.
  2. van Eijck, L. et al. 2011. Direct Determination of the Base-Pair Force Constant of DNA from the Acoustic Phonon Dispersion of the Double Helix. Physical Review Letters. 107 (8).
  3. Molecular Visualisations of DNA. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research online video. Posted on wehi.au, accessed September 9, 2011.
  4. Moore, M. J. and N. J. Proudfoot. 2009. Pre-mRNA Processing Reaches Back to Transcription and Ahead to Translation. Cell. 136 (4): 688-700. Cited in Thomas, B. 2010. Cell systems—what's really under the hood continues to drop jaws. Journal of Creation. 24 (2): 13-15.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on September 20, 2011.

The Latest
NEWS
Comet Now Visible to the Naked Eye
Stargazers have been disappointed earlier this year by comets ATLAS and SWAN, which disintegrated before they could put on good celestial shows. But another...

NEWS
Saharan Dust Cloud Strikes United States
Recently, the southeastern United States was hit by a huge cloud of dust from the Sahara desert that drifted across the Atlantic Ocean. A second such cloud...

NEWS
Seals Help Swedes to Chart ‘Paths of the Seas’
Swedish researchers have recently reported some newly documented “paths of the seas”1,2 thanks to some helpful (and high-tech) Weddell...

NEWS
Design Principles Confer Optimal Light Harvesting in Plants
Photosynthesis in plants starts with the absorption of light energy from sunlight, but scientists have been baffled as to how plants utilize the noisy...

NEWS
Titan Receding from Saturn Faster than Expected
Data obtained from the Cassini space probe show that Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is receding away from Saturn a hundred times faster than scientists...

NEWS
Evolutionists Struggle to Explain Canadian-Australian Connection
A new species of a split-footed lacewing was recently unearthed in British Columbia, Canada, creating a bit of controversy among secular paleontologists.1...

NEWS
Surveillance Tracing: Red Pandas in Himalayan Nepal
It’s tough to be a red panda in this fallen world, especially after the global Flood. Conservationists are satellite tracking red pandas in...

NEWS
Maine Lobsters Make International News
The life of a Maine lobster is mostly a matter of crawling around on muddy continental shelf seafloors, not far from a coastline. Benthic scavenging is...

NEWS
Should We Grouse About Not Seeing Grouse?
A recent report in Chesapeake Bay Journal laments the decline in ruffed grouse populations in the Chesapeake watershed region of its natural range. Ruffed...

NEWS
Meet Dr. G: Roller Skating, Evangelism, and a Changed Life
Have you heard the news? ICR’s Board of Trustees recently appointed Dr. Randy Guliuzza to be ICR’s new President & Chief Operating Officer....