Thursday, January 27, 2011

Incites and observations combined into a timely response

Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,
And as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps,
Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;
Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,
Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered
Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.

HE got on a ship, visited the four corners of the globe and came back with an answer to an age old riddle which has plagued man since he’d risen - how and by what means does Nature create organic beings and what are the rules governing its machinery?

The ‘mystery of mysteries’ was theorized by Darwin to depend on death and time – the preservation of beneficial traits through successful propagation of progeny; the elimination of traits detrimental by those physical pieces of hereditary material expiring within the bosom of the extinct organism. Along with his own realizations, Darwin’s theory incorporated the subtle observation by Malthus – that any species will propagate infinitely without any natural check on resources and thus competition (for mates and materials interspecies, for habitats amongst species) saves one organism – say the Beetle – from over running the earth.
The Frenchmen who grasped nature’s grandeur in another theory accounting for Nature’s rules on organic being development was Lamarck, suggesting that the environment – like the hand of God – can directly alter the organisms hereditary material – and like the gift of bread from the carpenter at the last supper – give it to its progeny apostles.

That organism humans so admire for its long trunk – the giraffe – was pigeonholed by school teachers as the essence of Lamarck’s philosophy – teaching the young that the ‘desire to reach further’ was the reason, Lamarck hypothesized, for its splendid neck structure – and thru incredulity, instilling in the young contempt for his theory of environmental imprinting. Blasphemous. This ability for experiences acquired by an organism during its brief sojourn amongst the living has now been proved to directly affect the hereditary material and successfully imprint on the species sons and daughters – the gamete cells. Hence, this new language for imprinting, separate from that code of codes (DNA: guanine, cytosine, thymine, adenine) is written instead in methylation, acetylation and phosphorylation, not in a material helical but in a tail wondrous – the NH2 tail to the hereditary material’s own coil – the histone. [Note: Both Lemarke and Darwin knew not which physical molecule we possess was the basis for heredity – DNA].

It took some 20 years for Darwin’s published views to gain relative acceptance amongst the current generation – 150, up till the discovery of epigenetic regulation in the early 2000s, for Lamarck to have his own pedestal. Even those amongst us now with somewhat crude theories, may in time, be shown by posterity to be prophets of a future age – ‘Nature does not reveal her mysteries once and for all’.

From a 1 celled gamete, housed for 10 months in a stomach do we enter this world – to a 6 foot walking talking beast of burden do we leave it – how is this so – and by what rules is the process so governed? The riddles of development, cell lineages, stem cell differentiation into the very organs the reader uses to absorp this page depends on a code for hetero and euchromatin – a type of ‘silent’ ‘nonsilent’ outfit DNA adorns determining whether her genes into proteins may be read. The code – in the form acetyls, methyls, and phosphates are attached to the NH2 tail of the histone – which, like a lover calling by long distance – whispers sweet affinity somethings to chromatin proteins and enzymes. The readers – these proteins – will determine whether the genes may be read and transferred into the protein material responsible for the fire of life by either obstructing transcription thru supercoil or allowing it through 'relaxing' - they may say ‘Here is to be the centromere – here is where the chromosome is to be pulled and anchored so the life material may divide’. The what is it (various alterations of tails), how it’s read (chromatic proteins, calling forth organizations so tight or loose as to determine whether anything may enter to be transcribed), and what higher order structures are thus affected (nucleusomes) may be the clues to tragic illnesses our brethren are afflicted. “The implications,” states the paper Translating the Histone code (Science 2005), “for human biology and disease, including cancer and aging, are far-reaching.”

Not in vain has Nature evolved mechanisms like X Chromosome inactivation, genetic imprinting, and cytosine to guanine methylation, and father time has showed us she has painted this beautiful artwork in the brush of epigenetic regulation... [pay for the rest of the article]"

  • Clif notes: Identical twins have completely different forms of 'methyl groups' on a type of stone that encoils DNA (accounting for why one might get breast cancer, another schizophrenia)
  • The stone can allow or disallow, via alterations to 'tightening', gene expression - traumatic experiences early in child hood, leading to odd stress behaviors later on is due to these stones having messages tagged to them, stopping proteins from being made
  • Many normal things are marked out, via alterations to the coils (called histones) by this route (the center of chromosomes, the ends, etc)
  • Only recently has it been known that mental illness can directly be related to how these coils are altered
  • The phenomena of how cells know what to be (since they all have the same DNA) is answered in how certain bits of DNA are 'stamped out' by adding groups to these coils (called acetyl groups, phosphate groups, a methyl group)
  • Also known now is that chromosome location in the nucleus is not random, and some chromosomes, like the infamous 'inactive X' the female is always keeping silent till death, are placed to the side and stuck to this skeletal like structure (See the inner life of the genome)
  • Discovering how these alterations to DNA work, may solve the age old question, how do things age, what is aging, and show, finally, that perhaps ideas that 'cells must live and die' isn't completely true - since no cell, since the original, has ever 'duplicated.' (The same one has replicated for 4 billion years straight, and all of the diversity you see is different forms of that one parent budding)

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