LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

February 19, 2010

Directed Mutation

“In 1988, geneticist John Cairns published what has since become a revolutionary paper entitled On the Origin Of Mutants (Nature 335:142, 1988). Cairns recognized that gene mutations were not solely the result of random chemical events as is currently perceived. Cairns placed bacteria, possessing a defective gene for the enzyme lactase, in Petri dishes that contained only lactose as a food source. The mutant bacteria were not able to metabolize the substrate. After a short period, the stressed, non-replicating bacteria began to thrive and proliferate. Upon examination, it was found that the bacteria specifically mutated the unresponsive lactase gene and repaired its function. Cairn’s research revealed that, in response to environmental stresses, organisms can actively induce genetic mutations in selected genes in an effort to survive. These mutations would represent mechanical “adaptations” that are induced by the organism’s response to life experiences.”

The video is here:
Adaptive Mutation

Immediately, the bureaucracy of science went to work. Cairns called it, Directed Mutation. That terminology was unacceptable to his peers. A paper to put this new information in proper scientific context was soon published.

Copyright 1998 by the Genetics Society of America
Adaptive Mutation: Has the Unicorn Landed?
Patricia L. Foster

In the second paragraph…

“Early in the project, we established that the mutational process was not “directed” toward specific targets (i.e., there was no reverse information flow) (Foster and Cairns 1992), and we renamed the phenomenon “adaptive mutation” (Foster 1993). We then pursued the alternative hypothesis that during selection a random mutational process affecting the whole genome might occur; the process would be adaptive if the variants (or the cells bearing them) were transient unless or until a variant arose that allowed the cell to grow (Cairns et al. 1988; Stahl 1988; Boe 1990; Hall 1990). Although less efficient than a directed mechanism, “trial and error” would have equivalent implications. With such a mechanism, a population could increase its genetic variability under stress yet maintain its genes more or less intact.”

So, right from the start they had adopted Crick’s “Central Dogma”, as a given: “there was no reverse information flow”. The truth is, they never even looked at the flow of information. Just as in the laws of thermodynamics, where energy doesn’t come out of nowhere, neither does information. Information is the result of process, and follows pathways that ALWAYS loop back to their source.

Anyway, “We then pursued the alternative hypothesis…” This is how they do it in science. They fudge their results with the unlimited power of “jargonese”. But it is language that gives them away. Words like, selection and adaptation infer that choices are made. In fact, the details of these experiments show that information is being processed. Information processes(like choosing) are firmly in the domain of intelligence.

Mutations, changes in DNA sequences, follow the same pattern of information processing as would a team of scientists trying to solve the same problem. The inability to metabolize lactose would be met by several proposed solutions, with only the best one, selected. In it’s simplest form, analyzing a situation, proposing options and processing one to a successful outcome, is very intelligent action. To ignore that possibility because of preconceived bias, is not very smart.

Directed or adaptive, doesn’t make much difference; a mutation that successfully accomplished a targeted goal, certainly cannot be seen as a random process. There was no cell division, no opportunity for random errors to participate, no natural selection at play, only reorganization of process in order to adapt to an environmental situation. The attempt to “explain away” the implications with mountains of jargonese shows that they just don’t get it. They assume from the start that, “…there was no reverse information flow”, just as did Crick and Watson. This is where the information processing model exposes the blind spot of central dogma. There is no reverse flow of information, but it loops back through the system, where choices are made about what information completes the circuit. It walks and quacks like a very smart duck.


  1. […] single celled creatures have a rudimentary perception loop going on. Like the lactose intolerant e. coli or stem cells reacting to their environment to form bone and muscle(Bruce Lipton). The intelligence […]

    Pingback by The Blind Painter « LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA — April 13, 2010 @ 7:07 am

  2. Great! A piece of evidence that we are not the mindless automata the materialists want to persuade us we are, right down to the bacteria level. Of course, this stuff won’t be in the textbooks, I suspect.

    Comment by Dr Joseph Bray — August 30, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  3. The ENCODE project have shown that at least 80% of the human genome is functionally active. Some try explaining it away by claiming that most of the activity is insignificant, but that away-explanation ignores several factors. One is that reading DNA is a job done by energy-expensive reading molecules, making any major amount of meaningless DNA activity extremely unlikely. Another factor is the missing heredity: protein-coding genes can only explain a minor fraction of the heredity shown by twin studies. Some explain away discoveries of functions in non-coding DNA by claiming that they are a minority case and that the vast majority is still junk, theoretically “supporting” it by reference to limitations of how many mutations natural selection can purge per generation. But they are overlooking the fact that hereditary diseases that cannot be explained by protein-coding DNA outnumbers those that can 20 to 1. That is patently not a “minor border revision”. Rather, it is a massive expansion of the amount of functionally important genome that makes directed mutations necessary to avoid that literally everybody dies from genetic diseases. A possible mechanism for the directing is that working groups of proteins “feel” when one particular protein in the group does not do its job properly, and sends a signal that triggers unscrambling of the responsible parts of the genome. Experiments that supposedly prove that mutations are random, are in fact victims of false generalizations. Those experiments are really about introducing diseases or poisons that kills too fast for the organisms to have time to direct mutations. John Cairns experiments supporting directed mutations in the 1980s, on the other hand, were about malnutrition (only giving the bacteria food they lacked the genes to digest, in this case giving E.coli only lactose to eat), which gives more time to direct mutations. Not only must there be time to signal the error and change the gene(s), there must also be time to get the production of the modified protein up and going and distribute it to the relevant working groups of proteins. Several molecules are known to interact directly with specific locations in the genome, molecules chemically resembling ones known to affect the risk of cancer when intaken more diffusely. That mechanism should be able to locally alter mutation probabilities. Mechanical changes of the structure of the DNA spiral, a known part of epigenetics, also almost certainly affects the vulnerability of the DNA by making it more or less exposed. And as shown in “Bacteria evolved way to safeguard crucial genetic material”, there is evidence that mutation rates do differ between parts of the genome, falsifying the dogma of mutation rates only being able to change over the whole genome and not locally. See Pure science Wiki.

    Comment by Martin J Sallberg — December 7, 2012 @ 3:35 am

  4. Lipton’s definitely right to question the stupidity of genetic determinism and random mechanical evolution, but his continuing support for the profoundly irrelevant lipid bilayer model of cell physiology just seems well a bit odd.

    Comment by pranarupa — January 18, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

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