Study Shows Proteins Cannot Evolve | The Institute for Creation Research

Study Shows Proteins Cannot Evolve

Researchers just announced the systematic laboratory induced mutation of successive amino acids over the entire sequence of a simple bacterial protein.1 The results showed how even the simplest of life's proteins have irreducibly complex chemical structures. The research also showed how random evolutionary processes that are ascribed to mutations are unable to propel evolution.

DNA holds the coded information that cells use to produce proteins, which are ordered chains of amino acids. Three successive nucleotide bases of DNA code for a single amino acid of a protein. Publishing in Nature, researchers successively changed the DNA code of an entire bacterial gene to mutate every amino acid of an 83-amino-acid protein. They then tested the ability of each mutant protein version to interact with its biological target in the cell.

What they proved was that proteins have a variety of specific regions that are highly sensitive to mutation—meaning that changes in these amino acids are not tolerated. Instead, they destroy protein function and negate evolution. These results support the prior research of Douglass Axe, a famous Cambridge protein biochemist who has also mutated large segments of bacterial proteins and is a strong critic of protein evolution and defender of intelligent design principles.2,3

In the simple bacterial protein they tested, 20 out of the 83 amino acids were off-limits to so-called random mutational evolutionary processes, since each of these single amino acid changes disabled protein function. Many of these mutation-resistant amino acid positions were in key sectors of the protein that interact with its "ligand, or chemical binding partner. Unfortunately for evolutionary concepts, these sectors are exactly where nature would need mutations to occur in order for it to construct new cellular interactions that might contribute to a new, selectable trait.

While the other 63 amino acids in the protein could be changed independently of each other (successively) without completely destroying the protein's function, their changes were limited to only a few of the possible 19 other amino acids with which they shared similar chemistries. This is because many amino acid changes, even outside the most critical sectors, still alter the overall 3-dimensional properties of the protein in negative, but not completely disabling, ways. Thus, even outside the non-negotiable sectors of the protein, optimal function was often hindered by just single amino-acid mutations—a finding described over 10 years ago by Douglass Axe.2

Data from similar, but less extensive, studies prior to this one show that random mutations in even the simplest of bacterial proteins have impossible hurdles to overcome if they are to create new function, even if it only happens one amino acid at a time. It also showed how key sectors of proteins are so tightly designed that they tolerate virtually no change whatsoever.

Imagine if this sort of experiment was done in more complex proteins that are hundreds of amino acids in length, or protein complexes that also include metal ions, carbohydrates, and ribo-nucleotides integrated into their structures.

Once again, the details of molecular biology in even a seemingly simple bacterial protein, point towards the creative hand of God.

References

  1. McLaughlin, R. N. et al. The Spatial Architecture of Protein Function and Adaptation. Nature. Published online before print, October 7, 2012.
  2. Axe, D. 2000. Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino acid changes on enzyme exteriors. Journal of Molecular Biology. 301 (3): 585-595.
  3. Axe, D. 2004. Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds. Journal of Molecular Biology. 341:1295-1315

* Dr. Tomkins is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Clemson University.

Article posted on November 9, 2012.

The Latest
NEWS
ICR's New In-Depth Science Book: Chimps and Humans
Evolutionists frequently claim that human and chimp DNA are over 98% similar. They need this percentage to support their hypothesis that humans and...

NEWS
Fossil Chromatin Looks Young
What are the odds that a buried animal would still have intact DNA after 125 million years? Researchers publishing in the journal Communications Biology...

NEWS
Inside October 2021 Acts & Facts
How is the Lord’s handiwork on display at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park? Does the universe look old? What can we learn about science and...

NEWS
Two-Volume Series: Restoring the Truth about Origins
The subject of origins continues to attract interest from the public and the scientific establishment. Understanding our origins informs us of who we are...

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

ACTS & FACTS
A Battle for Hearts
Since the ICR Discovery Center for Science & Earth History opened in fall of 2019, tens of thousands of people have walked through our doors. They...

APOLOGETICS
Eating Bugs Isn't Always So Simple
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves glory for why He made Earth’s diverse creatures, and He also deserves glory for the complicated details of how...

ACTS & FACTS
Does the Universe Look Old?
Since distant galaxies are billions of light-years away, some understandably assume that distant starlight must have taken billions of years to reach...

ACTS & FACTS
Hawaii Behind the Scenes
ICR Research Scientist Dr. Brian Thomas and ICR Video Producer Clint Loveness, with help from friends and family, recently shot footage in Maui, Hawaii,...

ACTS & FACTS
Mutation, Design, and Faith
Any alteration in a cell’s DNA sequence is a mutation. These changes can come from copying errors, exposure to chemicals or radiation, or from...