For those who might be interested in the question of how rare are functional protein sequences among the huge number of possible sequences, there is a breakthrough paper in this week's Nature. The authors have solved a number of technical problems to create a library of ~10^13 mRNAs encoding proteins 80 amino acids long. This is a much larger library than is obtainable by other approaches in this field. They have arranged it so that after in vitro translation into protein, the mRNA and protein remain connected to each other, enabling the association of a protein function with an amplifyable RNA sequence. Using this system they found 4 sequence classes of ATP binding proteins in their library, none of which seems to be related to known biological sequences. The highest affinity binding was 100 nM, which is quite respectable.
This is only the beginning of what should be very interesting results from this system. If it turns out to be possible to get lots of functional proteins out of libraries this size, it will not be good for Mr. Dembski's argument. (Although I guess he can then join Mr. Behe in saying that you can't get multiprotein complexes.)
(So far as I know, none of this work was done by physicists. Sorry, Moorad ;)
Preston Garrison, Ph.D.
UTHSCSA-Biochem. Dept. Insert the usual disclaimers here.
7703 Floyd Curl Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78229-3900
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