Transposable Elements Key in Embryo Development | The Institute for Creation Research

Transposable Elements Key in Embryo Development

Evolutionists once thought that transposable DNA elements, also called jumping genes, were merely the ancestral vestiges of viruses that maliciously infested and bloated the genomes of plants and animals. However, the past several decades of research have clearly shown that transposable elements play a large diversity of key roles in the genome.1 A recent study in the journal Nature has shown that transposable elements are now absolutely required for the very beginnings of animal life in the earliest stages of embryo development.2

In mammals, a cell called a zygote is formed when the sperm and egg are joined in fertilization. This is the earliest developmental stage of a new embryo. Before cells in the developing embryo fully differentiate to form various tissues and their cell fate is determined, they go through a stage in which they are considered totipotent—they have the capacity to develop into just about any type of cell in the body.

When the female egg cell becomes fertilized, the maternal genome and resulting nucleus becomes completely reprogrammed. Newly synthesized RNA transcripts (copies of DNA segments) unique to the zygotic genome immediately populate and program the cell nucleus for life's initial stages. A key feature of this activity that has been discovered in the mouse genome involves a specific type of transposable element named MuERV-L. This transposable element is uniquely active in the totipotent cell phase that is critical to forming all of the other cells in the mouse embryo.

During zygote genome function, a network of developmental genes depends on MuERV-L to activate their promoter regions. This creates the totipotent cell state. This gene network is silenced as development progresses.

The fact that this transposable element is essential to proper development in mice illustrates how evolutionary thinking once incorrectly interpreted these genetic features. Other studies have also demonstrated the critical involvement of various classes of transposable element DNA during other stages of both embryo development and pregnancy.3, 4 Far from being useless genetic leftovers, transposable DNAs are central to life.

It is now hard to believe that these critical and functional pieces of the genome were once thought to be nothing but the meaningless relics of ancient viruses.5 Clearly, they are uniquely designed and highly-engineered pieces of DNA programmed by God the Creator.

References

  1. Shapiro, J. A., and R. von Sternberg. 2005. Why repetitive DNA is essential to genome function. Biological Reviews. 80 (2): 1–24.
  2. Macfarlan, T.S. et al. 2012. Embryonic stem cell potency fluctuates with endogenous retrovirus activity. Nature. 487 (7405): 57-63.
  3. Kunarso, G. et al. 2010. Transposable elements have rewired the core regulatory network of human embryonic stem cells. Nature Genetics. 42 (7): 631-635.
  4. Lynch, V. J. et al. 2011. Transposon-mediated rewiring of gene regulatory networks contributed to the evolution of pregnancy in mammals. Nature Genetics. 43 (11): 1154–1159.
  5. Thomas, B. 2010. Evolution's Best Argument Has Become its Worst Nightmare. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 16-17.

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

Article posted on July 25, 2012.

The Latest
COVID-19
Should Americans Wear Masks for COVID-19?
Watching COVID-19 news reporting on South Koreans and Americans shows one stark difference: South Koreans are wearing some kind of face mask but Americans...

NEWS
Volcanoes, Geoengineering, and the Post-Flood Ice Age
A recent study in March 2020 suggested that sulfur dioxide (SO2) injected into Earth’s stratosphere could fight global warming, with a minimum of...

COVID-19
Mental Immunity
Wash your hands. Use Lysol. Take Vitamin C. Get lots of sleep. In the midst of the coronavirus era, there's enough medical advice floating around...

COVID-19
Coronavirus, Evil, and the Redemption of God
Though the novel coronavirus critically impacts our lives and it is easy to lose hope, God provides us with an eternal hope that will never perish. Our...

COVID-19
White House Briefing on Potential Virus Casualties
Not all White House Press Briefings are of equal importance. But yesterday’s was one of the most informative so far due to the staggering potential...

COVID-19
What New York Times Columnist Katherine Stewart Needs to Know
An Opinion piece for The New York Times by Katherine Stewart1 makes the assertions that President Trump has responded poorly to the coronavirus...

COVID-19
RNA Virus Origins Fit Genesis Creation
RNA viruses all use organized sequences of RNA chemical ‘letters’ to encode their plans for construction and operation. Infamous RNA viruses...

COVID-19
Psalm 8 and COVID-19
Here in Dallas County, we are under shelter-in-place orders as part of the plan to slow the progress of the global coronavirus pandemic.1 Many...

COVID-19
Spacecraft Model Construction for Isolated Families
The European Space Agency has posted a number of do-it-yourself science activities for families homebound during the coronavirus pandemic.1...

NEWS
Woodcocks: Fit for Different Situations
In today’s change-filled world, God is ubiquitously displaying His creativity to provide for our most important needs. God’s creative providence...