Menin Doesn’t Satisfy the Challenge to the Discovery Institute

“The MEN1 gene, mutations in which are responsible for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), encodes a 610-amino acid protein, denoted menin. The amino acid sequence of this putative tumor suppressor offers no clue to the function or subcellular location of the protein.”
–Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 February 17; 95(4): 1630–1634.

I got a request to test the Menin gene today to see if it meets the criteria of the challenge to the Discovery Institute to locate a gene with no homology to other genes: in other words, a gene that appears to have been created by non-natural processes.  This is the mirror of their challenge to produce an observed instance of “macroevolutionary change” which is based on false premises… I’ll save that for a later post.

What about Menin?  Well, in 1998 we didn’t have any homologous proteins… but a lot has changed since that young person’s textbook was printed.  Below I’ll put a screen shot from Homologene .  For the sake of brevity, I’m only including the first part of the protein sequence.

Sorry for the graphics quality.  Each of those letters represents an amino acid in the protein.  Notice that even the invertebrates (fruit fly, mosquito) have a menin homolog, although there’s an increase in differences the further away we travel from the common ancestor of each pair.  Chimp and Human menin sequences are identical across the full length.

So, no, this doesn’t meet the challenge.  If you want to read more about Menin, a tumor suppressor protein where variations are tied to a variety of diseases, go here.

4 comments on “Menin Doesn’t Satisfy the Challenge to the Discovery Institute

  1. in other words, a gene that appears to have been created by non-natural processes.

    Creationists are so cute. I’m no scientist, I don’t even play one on tv, but even if we were to come across a gene for which we couldn’t find a similar gene in other animals that I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t prove any gods and certainly wouldn’t prove a specific god. There are a heck of a lot of other possibilities that one would have to assume, long before a supernatural answer, and it would raise the question: Why are there so many homologous genes and only this one that isn’t? What sort of creator needs to be so deceptive with its work?

    • I agree that it’s not definitive proof or evidence for any supernatural agent, but it would be a phenomenon not currently explainable in the methodological naturalism used in science, and that would be the bare minimum needed to propose a theory of “Intelligent Design Creationism”: an observation not explainable by current theory.

      The Discovery Institute seem to have skipped this crucial scientific step in their rush to bypass Constitutional protections against religious preference in public schools.

      • Even if evolutionary theory cannot explain such an observation, to propose a scientific theory of “intelligent design creationism” it would still need to produce its own testable explanations and also not rely on another theory being wrong to confirm itself. Einstein’s theory of general relativity didn’t rely on Newton’s theory of gravity being wrong for example.

        Not that the Discovery Institute would see any reason to agree with this notion; they will keep pushing forward their theory in the hopes people buy it.

  2. It may be important for non biology-oriented folk
    to note that though every single letter represents one variant of the various amino acids we know, there are amino acids which share similar chemical properties. They may share hydrophobicity or the ability to form lots of hydrogen bonds. So although in one species a series of amino acids may consist of completey different variants, the total structure formed by those amino acids may be completely similar.

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