Thursday, August 03, 2006
Scientists led by a Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh geneticist have found new evidence that a category of genes known as pseudogenes serve no function, an important finding that bolsters the theory of evolution.
There are approximately 20,000 pseudogenes in the human and other mammalian genomes. In recent years, there has been growing discussion about the nature of these pseudogenes. The issue centers on whether pseudogenes are functional or merely evolutionary relics with no function. It was long believed by geneticists that they were relics, until basic science research published in 2003 found a mouse pseudogene located within the Makorin family of genes that did have a function, namely to cause polycystic kidney disease and a bone disease known as osteogenesis imperfecta.
..."Discussion over evolution and Intelligent Design really has centered on whether pseudogenes, sometimes called 'junk DNA,' have a function or not. The suggestion is that an Intelligent Designer would not make junk DNA, so if a pseudogene does have a function, this is claimed to support the idea of an Intelligent Designer," Dr. Nicholls said. "But there is no evidence that any of the 20,000 pseudogenes are functional. Our research proves this Makorin pseudogene does not have a function."
The abstract of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper the above is based on can be found here.