The nascent field of epigenetics is making scientists and pharmaceutical houses drool all over the world. Recent discoveries that DNA is much more than a blueprint for protein building have opened the door to a brand new ATGC playground. Many of the regions formerly considered mere ‘junk’ DNA appear to regulate gene expression through keyed methylation (turning genes on or off). RNA is much more than just a messenger within the cell; microRNA–little bits of RNA–is derived from ‘junk DNA’. MicroRNA acts as molecular police within the cell, protecting our DNA from retroviral insertion and ‘jumping genes’. Even the number of repeats within the ‘junk’ seem to have a purpose beyond that of DNA mapping for CSI episodes. SINES and LINES (Short Interspered Elements and Long Interspersed Elements, respectively) may be crucial to organizational aspects of chromatin and may also help protect the cell from disease.
The big problem with this incredibly interesting new field is that it IS brand new. For nearly a hundred years, geneticists assumed a simple math of one gene equals one protein, but our God-created structure is far more fearfully and wonderfully made! Any tinkering with God’s design risks opening up a mortal, intracellular wound that might never be healed until Christ returns.
As Christians, we’ve been taught to ask God’s blessing before eating our meals. Now, we might need to add a prayer seeking His protection from unwanted cellular disruption from potentially lethal inclusions, courtesy of the bio-pharmers of the world.
- Read all about the latest genetic money game here: Monsanto enters pharmaceutical business, acquires key gene silencing technology for use in humans.