RNA Building

So, my copy of Wired arrived Friday.  I finally had a chance to sit down and read it this morning while the boy watched cartoons.  One article was pretty cool.  It described a ‘game’ in which the players tried to build an RNA molecule with a specific shape and with specific requirements.

I sat down and started playing this game and was hooked.  In challenge mode, it’s just as I described.  You have to design an RNA molecule that meets certain requirements and folds into a very specific shape.  The only way to do this is by changing the nucleotides in the sequence.  It’s very easy to do, but very hard to master.

But the truly epic part is when you finally get to 10,000 earned points.  You may begin to participate in lab challenges.  These are well beyond the regular challenges.  Should you choose to participate, you will be making an RNA molecule that may actually be built by the team.  They will take the sequence you build and create it.

Then, they will see how well it folds (whether it matches the predicted folding pattern of the software), how stable it is (and whether it matches the predicted melting point and free energy of the software), and if it does what they hope it does.

This is pretty exciting stuff.  Crowd sourcing lab work.

But there are a few points we need to make here.  The first should be obvious to anyone with a pair of brain cells rubbing together, but this is NOT evidence for design of living things.  Now, humans know how to design RNA molecules to attempt to achieve specific tasks.  Since there was RNA for at least a billion years before humans came on the scene, it is illogical to suggest that this is evidence for design.  Humans also know how to build volcanoes, that is not evidence that all volcanoes are designed.

The second thing is this.

These two sequences of RNA are the same length.  Their free energy is within 1.2kcal of each other.  There is only one difference.  A single nucleotide (adenine in this case, near the end of the sequence) was replaced by a single guanine.

This is the simplest of all mutations.  A point mutation.  It literally happens all the time.  In many cases, there is no change.  I’ve played with over 50 RNAs in the software at this point and I’ve seen hundreds of times when a point mutation did not change the shape of the molecule.  I’ve also seen cases where one change did something like this.

Now, my question (challenge) to anyone interested is as follows:

  1. How does the change of A to G change the information content of the molecule?
  2. How does the change of A to G change the complexity of the molecule?
  3. How does the change of A to G change the function of the molecule?

It’s really very simple.  Until ID proponents can answer those three questions, then any objections they have to the currently understood science are worthless.

Those three questions are driven directly by conversations with ID proponents and reading ID literature.  If they can’t describe the change in function between the two molecules, then they are in no position to state that the RNA is broken.  Remember that the mutation in RNA could occur in the DNA OR during assembly of the RNA itself.

So the point that the original function can no longer be done is moot.

The number of nucleotides has stayed the same.  Unless there is a very detailed and specific reason for giving each nucleotide a value, then any claim that the amount of information changed is also moot.  And I would dearly love an ID proponent to suggest that the change in free energy (which is NOT entropy BTW) is the change in information, because the free energy is related to the bonds between nucleotides, not the nucleotides themselves.

Finally, there simply is no measure of complexity that I have ever even seen applied to something like this.  If an ID proponent is will to try, then they are welcome to take a shot.

Until then, I maintain that this is all the disproof that is needed.

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This entry was posted in Chemistry, Creationism / ID, evolution, Origins of Life, Science, Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to RNA Building

  1. Cubist says:

    Check your link to the game — WordPress thinks it’s pointing to a nonexistent page in your blog. Looks like a fairly simple “absolute URL vs. relative URL” kind of glitch to me?

  2. OgreMkV says:

    Fixed. Thanks

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