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
NEWS
Claims of 'Freshwater' Plesiosaurs Drowned by the Flood
A new discovery in Morocco’s Saharan Desert has evolutionary scientists making claims that plesiosaurs lived in freshwater too.1 Usually...

NEWS
Brainy Paper Wasps
Wasps (Family Vespidae) have a bad rap, but their benefits actually outweigh their painful sting—although many would disagree! What is the function...

CREATION PODCAST
The Secrets of the Cell | The Creation Podcast: Episode 29
Cells are the basic units of life, and in some forms they are actually organisms. What is a cell? What goes on inside of a cell? Did all life come from...

NEWS
Fossil Footprints Fit Flood Ice-Age Model
Anthropologists Thomas Urban (Cornell University) and Daron Duke (Far Western Anthropological Research Group) recently found preserved human footprints...

NEWS
Deep-Sea Lobster Microbiome
Research continues regarding complex and amazing microbiomes found on or within a variety of creatures.1 The microbiome is a microbial community...

NEWS
"Massively Exciting" Fossil Find
Now this is exciting: “Geologists have found the fossil of the earliest known animal predator. The 560-million-year-old specimen is the first of...

NEWS
Copulation Didn't Kill the Frogs, the Flood Did
Evolutionary scientists recently studied 168 frog fossils from central Germany, concluding that the frogs all drowned while aggressively mating. They claim...

CREATION PODCAST
What Can We Learn From Fossils? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
Is evolution seen in the fossil record? Why are fossilized terrestrial animals found buried with marine creatures? What conditions were needed to form...

NEWS
Be Not Deceived: Spiritually Train to Overcome Secular Science...
Thorough instruction and discipline are the hallmark qualities of a strong military training program. Well-trained soldiers can think on their feet, adapt...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Jurassic World: Dominion - Fun Movie, Bad Science | Creation.Live...
Covered in feathers, running faster than cars, and living in cold climates...these are just a few of the ideas introduced in Jurassic World: Dominion....