Thursday, 29 October 2009

ERVs Function Discovered

"Large Scale" Function for Endogenous Retroviruses: Intelligent Design Prediction Fulfilled While Another Darwinist Argument Bites the Dust

In his "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution" on TalkOrigins, Douglas Theobald claims that "Endogenous retroviruses provide yet another example of molecular sequence evidence for universal common descent." The presumption behind his argument is that endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are functionless stretches of "junk" DNA that persist because they are "selfish"—but they have no function for the organism. If we find the same ERVs in the same genetic loci in different species of primates, Theobald concludes they document common ancestry.

But what if ERVs do perform important genetic functions? Even theistic evolutionist Francis Collins acknowledges that genetic similarity "alone does not, of course, prove a common ancestor" because a designer could have "used successful design principles over and over again." (The Language of God, pg. 134.) The force of Theobald’s argument thus depends upon the premise that ERVs are selfish genetic "junk" that do not necessarily perform any useful function for their host.

In contrast, ID proponents would predict function for ERVs. This isn’t because ID has an inherent quarrel with common descent—it doesn’t. Rather, ID predicts function because the basis for ID’s predictions is observations of how intelligent agents design things, and intelligent agents tend to design objects that perform some kind of function. As William Dembski wrote in 1998, "If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function." It seems that the expectations of ID are turning out to be right.

A recent 2008 paper, "Retroviral promoters in the human genome," in the journal Bioinformatics (Vol. 24(14):1563–1567 (2008)) discusses the fact that "Endogenous retrovirus (ERV) elements have been shown to contribute promoter sequences that can initiate transcription of adjacent human genes. However, the extent to which retroviral sequences initiate transcription within the human genome is currently unknown." The article thus "analyzed genome sequence and high-throughput expression data to systematically evaluate the presence of retroviral promoters in the human genome."

The results were striking:

We report the existence of 51,197 ERV-derived promoter sequences that initiate transcription within the human genome, including 1743 cases where transcription is initiated from ERV sequences that are located in gene proximal promoter or 5' untranslated regions (UTRs).


Our analysis revealed that retroviral sequences in the human genome encode tens-of-thousands of active promoters; transcribed ERV sequences correspond to 1.16% of the human genome sequence and PET tags that capture transcripts initiated from ERVs cover 22.4% of the genome. These data suggest that ERVs may regulate human transcription on a large scale.

(Andrew B. Conley, Jittima Piriyapongsa and I. King Jordan, "Retroviral promoters in the human genome," Bioinformatics, Vol. 24(14):1563–1567 (2008).)

Darwinists who labeled ERVs as a form of "selfish" and "junk" DNA have been chasing explanations down a blind alley. It should be stated that the authors [of the article quoted above- Asy] do not deviate from the neo-Darwinian paradigm, putting the obligatory evolutionary spin on the data. They claim that it’s a possibility that some of the transcribed ERVs are "not functionally significant," exposing that even in the face of this compelling contrary data, it is difficult for many Darwinists to let go of their seductive but science-stopping "junk-DNA" paradigm.

It seems that Richard Sternberg was correct when he predicted 5 years ago that "the selfish DNA narrative and allied frameworks must join the other ‘icons’ of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory that, despite their variance with empirical evidence, nevertheless persist in the literature." (Richard Sternberg, "On the Roles of Repetitive DNA Elements in the Context of a Unified Genomic–Epigenetic System," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 981: 154–88 (2002).)

Posted by Casey Luskin on August 21, 2008

With Acknowledgements to Evolution News and Views published by the Discovery Institute.




Evolution's Soft Underbelly
by Asyncritus


The Argument Darwin Dreaded…
The Argument No-One Has Developed Before…
The Argument to Which There Is


35,000 viewers of my articles can’t all be wrong. Check Google for this subject and see!

100 pages of amazing facts and carefully reasoned arguments. Equip yourself! Give your children the knowledge to defend belief in Creation in class!

Get your copy here. Only $19.97 as pdf.
$27 plus $5 p&p in CDR format.

CDR Version

1 comment:

  1. The sheer foolishness shown by evolutionists in describing a huge chunk of the genome as 'junk' is hard to credit.

    The claim, of course, is entirely due to the foolish preconception that everything has 'a common ancestor/s' somewhere in the dim and distant past.

    The retroviruses, they thought, in their ignorance of the facts that have now been, and will continue to be discovered, provided clear tracking evidence of this 'descent.'

    That theory is now shaking at its foundations, and will join the rubble of discarded pro-evolution theories. Those said ERVs have a function, many it seems, and all will be revealed as research mercilessly executes the folly.

    But will that stop them? Don't be silly. Another will soon leap to the fore.

    They never learn, and they have no explanations to offer. They clutch the straws, and when the straws become waterlogged and sink, they sink with them - temporarily.

    In the meantime, consider carefully the destructive effect that the theory and facts of Instinct has on the theory.