Re: pseudogenes and design

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Thu May 29 2003 - 00:45:16 EDT

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    I have a question for those knowledgeable in this domain. Is there any
    reason to think that at least some of these pseudogenes are not simply
    artifacts of the evolutionary structure-creation "effort" that went
    nowhere, or of structures which may have at one time done something
    (whether beneficial in some way or not, we cannot tell) but which
    subsequently "broke" and have degenerated into non-functional residues?
    It seems like much of this discussion assumes that every feature is
    there for a specific and realized purpose. That would seem to be
    unlikely in an evolved structure with the complexity of DNA.

    Jim Armstrong wrote:

    >Josh wrote:
    >>[...] I wrote in my original statement, that of course for the
    >>adamant evolutionist, this data is just as expected as if we find
    >>that there is no function for a pseudogene, thus the plasticity
    >>and adaptability or evolvability of evolutionary theory. [...]
    >Mountain out of a non-existent molehill...
    >Data is data. If one finds a function for a pseudogene, one finds a
    >function for a pseudogene. Whether any particular pseudogene has a
    >function or not has little impact on evolutionary theory (unless
    >one is trying to unravel the particular history of a particular
    >The reason why most pseudogenes are thought to be without much
    >immediate function is because of empirical evidence. They don't
    >produce active proteins. Many aren't even transcribed. Different
    >lineages can have deletions of pseudogenes with no apparent effect.
    >It wasn't "evolutionists" per se that discovered pseudogenes or
    >determined that many were highly mutable and dispensable. It wasn't
    >"evolutionary" dogma that lead to the demonstration of mechanisms by
    >which pseudogenes (such as the processed ones) arise. And it wasn't
    >"evolutionist" per se but classic geneticists that created
    >pseudogenes (knockout mutants) in the lab as part of their research.
    >As for the "adamant evolutionist" who finds the data just as
    >expected if no pseudogenes have a function: What a load of bunk! If
    >no pseudogene had any function in some cell somewhere, I'd be
    >extremely surprised. Now why is that?
    >Pseudogenes are one of the genomic components from which functional
    >genes are thought to arise. It's known that many are actually
    >transcribed into mRNA. Some sequences retain binding sites for
    >transcriptional modulators. So why shouldn't a pseudogene have
    >acquired some function or retained some of the regulatory interactions
    >it once had as a full-length gene? Few regulatory functions require
    >an intact or full-length sequence. Since the time they were discovered
    >and their large numbers first described, researchers have wondered what
    >role pseudogenes might have in the cell and in evolution.
    >Heck, we've even created artificial pseudogenes with functionality
    >and employ them as handy (and not so handy) tools in research today
    >-- i.e. in siRNA gene silencing.
    > (to despam remove second hormel)

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