Scientists Discover the On/Off Switch of the Cell's Copy Machine | The Institute for Creation Research
Scientists Discover the On/Off Switch of the Cell's Copy Machine

Our cells are amazing places that contain countless molecular machines all working together to perform multiple and important functions simultaneously.

Within our cells are strands of DNA, which are very long molecules containing vital information for cell maintenance and reproduction. But that information must be made accessible to the cell’s machines in order for them to perform their functions. Therefore, the molecular “motor” called RNA polymerase constantly reads and copies shorter segments, called transcripts, of the DNA for the machines to use. If a transcript is damaged and the information is still needed, more transcripts can be produced from the original DNA.

The RNA polymerase is remarkable in its efficiency, design, and effectiveness. But what if it never stopped transcribing? What if its copying went out of control, littering the cell with genetic debris? What if it transcribed the wrong genes, or was blocked from transcribing at all?

Recently, researchers at Imperial College London identified another amazing cellular machine, a kind of switch that “turns on” the RNA polymerase. Their findings appeared in the November 7th edition of the journal Molecular Cell.1 A remarkably high-resolution cryo-electron microscope was used to visualize this tiny protein switch in action. According to an Imperial College press release, “this activator protein jump-starts the RNA polymerase machine by removing a plug which blocks the DNA's entrance to the machine.”2

This control, or regulation, of the transcription is vital. It is not enough for a protein to have the ability to perform a specific function within a cell, as amazing and essential as that might be in itself. That function must be regulated. A car without the regulatory mechanisms of, at the very least, brakes and an ignition switch would be largely ineffective as a means of transportation.

This newly-discovered protein switch is no surprise to those who follow the creation model, which expects an ingenious Creator to have invented molecular machines that are not only efficient in their operations, but also in the regulation of those operations.

References

  1. Bose, D. et al. 2008. Organization of an Activator-Bound RNA Polymerase Holoenzyme. Molecular Cell. 32 (3): 337-346.
  2. How 'molecular machines' kick start gene activation revealed. Imperial College London press release, November 6, 2008.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Article posted on November 17, 2008.

The Latest
NEWS
Remembering Patti Morse
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from...

CREATION PODCAST
What Happened with Washington's Violent Volcano? | The Creation...
How did a 1980 volcanic eruption change our understanding of geology? What impact did this event have on the age assignments of sediments? Join us for...

NEWS
Fossil Insect Predation Shows No Evidence of Evolution
Some recent science news stories have come out describing fossils of insects feeding on plants supposedly many “millions of years ago.” What...

NEWS
Adaptive Genetic and Epigenetic Changes in Plants
Being sedentary organisms, plants are essentially stuck where they are planted and need to dynamically adapt to the conditions around them to not only...

NEWS
Dr. Tim Clarey Awarded Adjunct Professor of the Year
Congratulations to ICR Research Scientist and geologist Dr. Tim Clarey! He received the Adjunct Professor of the Year award from King’s University,...

NEWS
Mars Rover Records Dramatic Solar Eclipse
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has filmed the Martian satellite (or moon) Phobos eclipsing the sun, and this short but impressive video may be viewed...

CREATION PODCAST
Darwin or Design? CET Pt. 2 | The Creation Podcast: Episode 22
How does design provide a better explanation for biological functions and adaptations than natural selection? And how can engineering principles help...

NEWS
Resurrecting “Ancient” Enzymes?
The most abundant protein on Earth is probably an enzyme (biological catalyst) called RuBisCO (or Rubisco) designed by the Creator to function in photosynthesis.1...

NEWS
Inside May-June 2022 Acts & Facts
How can Christians stand up to scientific elitism? What does the plant fossil record in Iceland tell us about the global Flood? Does a new bacterium...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Grand Canyon
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation...