Beyond the Base Pair

  DNA comprises four nucleotides: adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. these bases pair with one or another into base pairs. There are two options for these four bases as thymine only pairs with adenine and cytosine only pairs with guanine. Each of the nucleotides is represented in writing as A,T,C,or G. A only pairs with T and C only pairs with G. The human genome as it occurs on our 20,000 protein coding genes  comprises only these four bases in an infinitude of possible sequences. the average gene is 1,500 base pairs long. The average chromosome ( they are all a unique length) has 139 million base pairs. Only two percent of the human genome codes for protein. the rest has either a regulatory function or it is dormant. If the average DNA molecule ( one DNA molecule per chromosome) was one sixteenth of an inch wide ( a piece of string) it would be two miles long. Each one of a human’s 10 trillion cells has a full component of 23 pairs of chromosomes, forty six total in each cell. Every gene occurs twice - one from mother one from father. there are 3.2 billion base pairs in the human genome, 6.4 billion bases.

If you have studied biology in the past 45 years you are familiar with the appearance of our 46 chromosomes all coiled up into wormy looking pairs, aligning at the center of a dividing cell and travelling to opposing sides of what has become two different cells. DNA is only bundled up into worm-ish chromosomes when replicating; at all other times this DNA is unspooled into a gooey mass of glop. A  few hundred ( of 20,000 plus) locations where the base pairs have been enzymatically separated to allow genetic information to be transcribed from the DNA in the cell nucleus to a ribosome sitting on the rough endoplasmic reticulum surrounding the nucleus where the proteins specific to that cell’s tissue type and the proteins needed for the cell’s shared metabolic needs are manufactured from amino acids suspended within the cell. Amino acids are building blocks of protein and protein is the building material for muscle, nerves, bone, blood and brains, all sensory organs and all hormones. We are protein. Protein is amino acids, the sequence and shape of amino acids is determined by DNA:  the specification for each plant, animal, bacterium, virus, archaea, fungi and mold.

There is ten years of research into the addition of a third base pair to the organism genome. E.coli bacteria are the medium of choice to date for these experiments. Bacteria multiply at an intensely high rate. E.coli bacteria double their population every 17 minutes by binary fusion in geometric progression. Bacterial growth is exponential: 1,2,4,8,16,etc If a third base pair is accepted into the blueprint of life and it enters via bacteria. this mutant DNA could spread to every living thing on Earth within a few years. Is it prudent to experiment with a fundamental building block of all life in such a cavalier manner - no. Life works fine most of the time - why wreck a good thing, a great thing. Just because life can be fooled to accept this UBP ( unnatural base pair) this third base pair, does not mean that good things will ensue. A third base pair integrated in all of the DNA of the human genome would be to throw ten thousand wrenches into our DNA spokes upsetting all inheritance of internal and external physical characteristics and any metabolic process - the whole works. Old turkish proverb: Any fool can throw a turd into the well  but it takes 20 wise men to get it out.


Questions and observations:

  1. We live in the age of the network aka the rhizome. the age of the hierarchy is over. Look at the map of the major cities of the USA on the back page of your in-flight magazine. Note the connections between cities indicated by multiple webs of red lines radiating from each city. This is the heuristic of our time. The hierarchical ladder no longer functions for us. Imagine this map in real time and space, as pulsing intracity networks, our population on I-Phones, the traffic patterns, the infrastructure patterns: water, sewer, gas and electric lines, fiber optic cables, telephone lines, social networks: school boards, little league teams etc etc.
  2. American tribal ritual of intercity flight within aluminum tubes at 40,000 feet. Sit back and relax, absorb the insane zeit from security paranoia theater at the airport to kidney and liver-killing soft drinks and alcohol in a jam-packed microorganism airshare,  pandered to with peanuts and the latest Disney movie as the wonders of the universe pass below little noticed.
  3. All life on Earth is a video game played in an alternate universe operating within our quantum emptiness filling each living thing: plant, animal, bacterium. Myriad hands in gloves guiding all to victory.
  4. When eating an egg, a person ingests a lot of DNA, ribosomes, rough endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparati, RNA of all stripes, mitochondria, lipids etc etc - a smorgasbord !  Protein of many varieties in this broad mix of nutrients.
  5. Compare and contrast: “The Good woman of Szechuan” by Bertolt Brecht and “Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet.
  6. JB essay title: The Mystification of Repressed Myth (bubbling up from archaic depths ( 1940s)  into consciousness via Turner Classic films.
  7. JB essay title: “Corrosive Reification-Sinatra’s Rat Pack” or “Why does Joey Bishop Just Stand There?”
  8. Is there a gene that accelerates epigenetics? that accelerates the acquisition of acquired rather than evolved characteristics?
  9. Did gene transfer occur between horses and humans allowing the proliferation of epigenetic pathways to evolution?
  10. Did horse teeth, enabling grass chewing, evolve via epigenetics?
  11. Did the human outsize neocortex evolve via epigenetics?
  12. JB neolog: Pooze or P.ooze or Primordial ooze: ancient sea/swamp/tideflats/ponds 4.0 to 4.5 billion years ago where the ground rules for organism metabolic process were established. See: Krebs cycle etc.
  13. A wild-ass guess: There were 2 million donkeys on the North American continent 2 million years ago.
  14. Humans may or may not have killed off the horse in North America - humans scared the entire horse population away across the Siberian land bridge. The horse did not go extinct in North America, it left the premises. Horses are smart.


12/31/15  7:20PM