Reasons to Believe

Operon Synteny Brings Order to the Case for Intelligent Design, Part 2 (of 2)

Some researchers say that birth order plays an important role in shaping personality, intelligence, and even sexuality.

Similarly, evolutionary biologists argue that the ordering of genes along the DNA molecule is important evidence for common ancestry and, consequently, biological evolution. Yet, new work by scientists from UC Berkeley provides an effective counter to this argument.1

In part 1 of this series, I discussed the results of the Berkeley study which suggests a purpose for the order of genes along prokaryotic DNA, particularly sequences known as operons. I also pointed out the impact this new insight has on the case for intelligent design.

But where the work on operons proves positive for intelligent design, it seems detrimental for evolutionary explanations.

Gene Order and the Case for Biological Evolution

Proponents of biological evolution claim that if evolutionary processes generated life’s diversity, then organisms that share a common ancestor would also share similar genomes. This similarity would not only include gene types and sequences, but also the physical arrangement, or ordering, of genes along a chromosome. The physical ordering of genes along the DNA molecule is called synteny.

Presumably, random biochemical processes generated the order of genes along the common ancestor’s DNA molecule arbitrarily. As evolutionary processes spawned different lineages from the common ancestor, the gene order was preserved.

One of the key assumptions undergirding this interpretation is that gene order serves no functional purpose. But if there is a functional basis for synteny, then the property could be understood as a design feature. From a creation perspective, synteny reflects the work of a Creator who intentionally ordered genes along the DNA molecule. And shared synteny represents common design, not common descent.

Gene Order Is Functional

The recent work by UC Berkeley scientists has uncovered evidence that the amount of protein produced by genes in an operon depends on where specific genes are located. Genes positioned near the beginning of the operon produce more proteins than genes at the end of the operon. The researchers demonstrated that there is a linear relationship between the location of the gene in the operon and the amount of protein produced.

In other words, there is a functional basis for synteny, thus, invalidating a key assumption of the evolutionary paradigm.
 

This article is Part 2 (of 2) of "Operon Synteny Brings Order to the Case for Intelligent Design".
To access Part 1, please click on the link below:

(Part 1) 

 

Subjects: Molecular Evolution

Dr. Fazale Rana

In 1999, I left my position in R&D at a Fortune 500 company to join Reasons to Believe because I felt the most important thing I could do as a scientist is to communicate to skeptics and believers alike the powerful scientific evidence—evidence that is being uncovered day after day—for God’s existence and the reliability of Scripture. Read more about Dr. Fazale Rana

Endnotes:

  1. Han N. Lim, Yeong Lee, and Razika Hussein, “Fundamental Relationship between Operon Organization and Gene Expression,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (2011), published electronically June 13, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1105692108.