DNA dogmatism revised

December 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

For decades , a linear gene-centered notion cultivated unreasonably high expectations for genomics.  

Scientific unrealism skyrocketed in 2000, when the multinational effort of the Human Genome Project announced the mapping of the human genome. Some claimed that the conquest of the moon paled in comparison with the new scientific achievement.

Yet, the moon was never conquered. It was simply visited. And the genome was simply mapped. But not fully decoded nor understood. Thus, the 2000 declarations were exaggerations.

 The following years genomics did not deliver any of the promised miracles and new research openly challenged genomic dogmatism.

Genomic terms

Let’s imagine a fully automated factory that produces construction materials for buildings and constructs buildings as well (to simplify our example we will pretend that our factory products bricks and that buildings are made out of bricks.)

The factory has a command center, a CPU that runs a program and gives simple orders that are executed by the rest of the factory’s machinery. Every order corresponds to a mold and every mold to an essential part of the brick, the “building blocks”.

Thus, with a combination of simple orders different shapes and sizes of bricks are build, placed in a certain order and a building is constructed.  

The genomic dogma claimed if we could identify the orders, (they are called codons in term of genetics) we could fix damaged parts of or even build the living buildings of organisms.

And they were wrong.

Because it was discovered that some of the “orders” (the codons) have a dual role:

Not only do they give orders for key-to-lock building blocks to be produced, but they also give orders to stop or begin the production of a new brick: They possess a second,  regulatory role and thus they comprise a second program, a second code. These dual codons are called duons.

A few days ago, John Stamatoyannopoulos from the University of  Washington and his coworkers published a paper in Science that exhibited that 15% of codons are actually duons, proving that the second code, the regulatory one is of great importance.

Why is this so important, why is this groundbreaking?

The previous dogma ignored the role and importance of the duons and their regulatory “code” (we dont know if it is actually a code yet) and focused on the “primary” building program.

 Trying to understand or even worse intervene with the human genome while overlooking the second code is like trying to write a book without using punctuation marks or spaces between words or trying to play a musical instrument without a sense of rhythm.

It makes no sense.

And since living things do make sense, non-sense elements manifest themselves in terms of novel diseases, even epidemics.

It is not only about the “simple orders”. It is about their sequences as well.

This is why replacing a gene with another let alone replacing genes of an organism with genes from another organism is not that innocent a procedure as GMO proponents want us to believe.

Because when we genetically modify an organism, usually, we don’t only replace a series of codons with another series of codons. We have a good chance to change the genetic sequence as well, we have a good chance to “short-circuit” or deregulate the second regulatory program, or even force it to go haywire with totally unpredictable consequences.

One can only imagine what this implies for the so called “GMO science”.

And it is not only about duons. ENCODE, the Encyclopedia of DNA elements has already discovered the role of other overlooked DNA and even non DNA elements in DNA expression and regulation. The universe of geninformatics is much richer and much more complicated than we ever imagined.

At this premature stage of scientific wisdom, humanity cant afford and it shouldn’t be allowed to play God, we should not allow GMO’s outside of laboratories. We might open Pandora’s box instead of unlocking life’s secrets.

In 2008, I wrote an article for the alternative Greek press which was later incorporated in my book “Deadly Cures” (published solely in Greece. For those of you who want to read a book of mine in English ι would suggest that you try Pulp Med) claiming that: “ENCODE findings may require novel proposals, novel interpretations and new definitions, in other words a new language for a new Genomic”

Stamatoyannopoulos findings confirmed the validity of these claims. A new much more complex genetic code is emerging. And I am going to put my money on the discovery not only of duons but of triplons and quadrons as well and of a whole new universe of genetic elements and interactions.    

We shall be amazed by the elegant complexity of the genetic universe.      

If we only survive the vicious attack of GMO interests on Life.

Petros Arguriou, 19-12-2013

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