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
NEWS
Inside March 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR uphold the clarity of Scripture? How do we know that canyons were formed by the Genesis Flood? How do fossilized fish confirm biblical...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Spring 2021
...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Human Hands
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

ACTS & FACTS
Dross and Dilution
The first of seven great signs of Jesus’ deity recorded in John’s gospel is the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). By the time Jesus...

APOLOGETICS
Do the Unpersuaded Have Enough Proof?
At a local Bible conference, a respected seminary professor unintentionally contradicted the apostle Paul. During the Q&A session, he opined that...

ACTS & FACTS
Gunnison's Black Canyon: The Flood Solves Mysterious Missing...
Brian Thomas, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D. The Gunnison River winds westward from the Colorado Rocky Mountains through dry and dramatic landscapes....

ACTS & FACTS
Do We See Complex Design in Mosquito Eggs?
Mosquitoes hatch from tiny eggs and spend a few days filter-feeding on things like bacteria, pollen, and algae. They molt three times as they grow,...

ACTS & FACTS
A Texas-Size Spider Mystery
The delightfully creepy spider belongs to a class called Arachnida—which is distinct from the “bug” class Insecta. Not surprisingly,...

ACTS & FACTS
The Fossils Still Say No: The Fins-to-Feet Transition
One of the alleged greatest transformations in vertebrate evolution is said to be the emergence of creatures that traded fins for feet and transitioned...

RESEARCH
Largest Canyons Were Formed by the Receding Flood
Two newly discovered canyons in Greenland and Antarctica have a lot in common with Grand Canyon. Both canyons are as deep as or deeper than Grand Canyon...