Virus Motors Impossible for Evolution | The Institute for Creation Research
Virus Motors Impossible for Evolution

Bacteriophages are non-living yet specialized viruses that hijack cells to clone more viruses. In this way, they help to maintain balanced bacterial populations. When a new “phage” is assembled within a host cell, it is faced with a difficulty—how to package its DNA, which is 1,000 times longer than the diameter of its capsid, the tiny vessel that holds it. Research in 2007 revealed that this is accomplished by a molecular motor.1

The amount of force this motor exerts is 6 x 10-11 Newtons, making it the most powerful of all known molecular motors and twice as powerful as a car engine, relative to its size. It guzzles fuel at the rate of 300 ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy molecules per second.2 (Since it essentially steals all this ATP from its host, efficiency is not an issue.)

The bacteriophage motor also has gears, a handy feature when DNA needs to be unraveled before packaging. Douglas Smith of the University of California in San Diego said in 2007, “It is the equivalent of reeling in and packing 100 yards of fishing line into a coffee cup, but the virus is able to package its DNA in under five minutes.”3

The December 26, 2008, edition of the journal Cell reported on the nuts and bolts of the viral DNA packaging motor.4 It consists of five proteins in a ring that wraps around the DNA strand. Each protein takes its turn, running counterclockwise, to shove two DNA bases at a time into its capsid. Each of the five proteins goes through a sequence of events: binding ATP (enabled by the exact placement of a specific amino acid, arginine), binding the DNA, cranking the DNA upward, then releasing and resetting.

A famous twentieth-century evolutionist, J. B. S. Haldane, once said in a debate that evolution could not possibly form “various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect.”5 In the 60 years since this statement was made, biological magnets, wheels, and motors—including the viral DNA packing motor—have been described in considerable detail. Since none of these finely-tuned biological features could have been invented by any natural means, they must have come from a supernatural One.

References

  1. Fuller, D. N. et al. 2007. Single phage T4 DNA packaging motors exhibit large force generation, high velocity, and dynamic variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (43): 16868-16873.
  2. Sarfati, J. 2008. By Design. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 143.
  3. Seethaler, S. Powerful Molecular Motor Permits Speedy Assembly of Viruses. University of California, San Diego press release, October 29, 2007.
  4. Sun, S. et al. 2008. The Structure of the Phage T4 DNA Packaging Motor Suggests a Mechanism Dependent on Electrostatic Forces. Cell. 135 (7): 1251-1262.
  5. Dewar, D. 1949. Is Evolution a Myth? A Debate between D. Dewar and L. M. Davies vs. J. B. S. Haldane. London: Watts & Co. Ltd, 90. Quoted in Sarfati, By Design, 86.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Article posted on January 9, 2009.

The Latest
COVID-19
COVID-19 and Evangelicals
On March 27, Katherine Stewart wrote an opinion piece titled “The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals”1 for The New...

NEWS
It’s Bluebonnet Season!
Now is the season—late March and April—for bluebonnets to blossom in Texas!1 Establishing these beautiful flowers is difficult,...

COVID-19
Fighting Coronavirus with Your PC or Mac
As of March 26, seven hundred thousand people involved in the Folding@Home project are using their home computers to form, in effect, the world’s...

COVID-19
New Study Confirms Suggested Coronavirus Quarantine Period
Medical researchers at Johns Hopkins University have been quickly gathering data from the recent coronavirus outbreak and then evaluating health care policy...

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...