Home » 'Junk DNA', Cell biology, Functionally Specified Complex Information & Organization, Origin Of Life » 2013 Nobel Prize for intracellular transport networks

2013 Nobel Prize for intracellular transport networks

Just heard on the Caribbean’s traditional 7:00 am BBC morning news, award of a Nobel Prize to

James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman
and Thomas C. Südhof

for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic,
a major transport system in our cells

The Nobel press release remarks:

The 2013 Nobel Prize honours three scientists who have solved the mystery of how the cell organizes its transport system. Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. For instance, insulin is manufactured and released into the blood and chemical signals called neurotransmitters are sent from one nerve cell to another. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell.

Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic. James Rothman  unravelled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo. Thomas Südhof revealed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision.

Through their discoveries, Rothman, Schekman and Südhof have revealed the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo. Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects and contribute to conditions such as neurological diseases, diabetes, and immunological disorders.

It then continues:

In a large and busy port, systems are required to ensure that the correct cargo is shipped to the correct destination at the right time. The cell, with its different compartments called organelles, faces a similar problem: cells produce molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines and enzymes that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Timing and location are everything. Miniature bubble-like vesicles, surrounded by membranes, shuttle the cargo between organelles or fuse with the outer membrane of the cell and release their cargo to the outside. This is of major importance, as it triggers nerve activation in the case of transmitter substances, or controls metabolism in the case of hormones. How do these vesicles know where and when to deliver their cargo?

Very interesting, and pregnant with remarks pointing to design of the living cell. Remember, this network is essential for proper sustained cell function, and is in material part coded into the genes.

It would be interesting to hear especially the thoughts as to how such could arise from undirected physics and chemistry in a warm little pond or the like. END

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16 Responses to 2013 Nobel Prize for intracellular transport networks

  1. F/N: From the 2013 Nobel Prize, announcement for Medicine and Physiology:

    Each cell is a factory that produces and exports molecules. For instance, insulin is manufactured and released into the blood and chemical signals called neurotransmitters are sent from one nerve cell to another. These molecules are transported around the cell in small packages called vesicles. The three Nobel Laureates have discovered the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time in the cell . . . . In a large and busy port, systems are required to ensure that the correct cargo is shipped to the correct destination at the right time. The cell, with its different compartments called organelles, faces a similar problem: cells produce molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines and enzymes that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Timing and location are everything. Miniature bubble-like vesicles, surrounded by membranes, shuttle the cargo between organelles or fuse with the outer membrane of the cell and release their cargo to the outside. This is of major importance, as it triggers nerve activation in the case of transmitter substances, or controls metabolism in the case of hormones. How do these vesicles know where and when to deliver their cargo?

    This seems to brim over with issues linked to FSCO/I. How can these be explained on a basis of blind chance and necessity starting with a stew of chemicals in a warm little pond or the like, without any intelligent organisation? On what observational basis?

    KF

  2. Vesicles can be seen, as they are visualized by researchers, in this semi-famous Harvard (XVIVO team) video:

    The Inner Life of a Cell – video (page down just a bit to view the video)
    http://www.studiodaily.com/200.....of-a-cell/

    Here is a User’s guide to the video

    vesicles screenshot comment: The enormous organelle the stalwart kinesin guy is carrying is a vesicle filled with proteins destined for the outside, perhaps in response to the signal that the cell had received a while back. The vesicle itself has membrane proteins studding its surface. If you look closely in this sequence, you see hundreds of fellow kinesin proteins hauling their own burdens along the microtubule highways.
    http://sparkleberrysprings.com.....fcell.html

    Something to ponder in all this is that, here at UD, the focus is usually on the gross inadequacy of neo-Darwinists to account for the origination of new proteins (Axe, Gauger etc..), but as this Nobel prize on intracellular transport networks that kf highlighted illustrates, once you have a new protein you then must contend with how to meaningfully integrate it into massively complex traffic flow of the cell without causing disruptions (traffic jams) in other cellular processes. Not a easy thing to accomplish by concerted ‘intelligent’ effort, much less by blind, undirected, Darwinian processes!

    As Stephen Meyer puts the problem:

    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does not insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ -
    Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)
    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

    Here is recent note of semi-related interest to the Harvard video:

    The machinery of mitosis: Kinetechores, centrioles and chromosome pumps – October 4, 2013
    Excerpt: At the cellular level, the mitotic spindle apparatus is arguably the most complicated piece of machinery in existence. Its basic function is to isolate and separate the chromosomes during cell division. A group of researchers at the University of North Carolina have been piecing together a model of the spindle and associated proteins which provides a way to visualize in detail exactly what might be going on. (illustration on site),,,
    The results of these efforts are not best transmitted in word form. Nowadays collaborations like this are often headed up by artisans that recruit the biology and computer tech experts needed to create a visual simulation.,,,
    The larger public may have to wait a little while to see the fruits of these new labors which seek to make the unseeable biology visible. The mitotic spindle may perhaps be the feature film that many haven’t even realized they have been waiting for.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-10-m.....osome.html

    Until the feature film comes out, I guess the following video will have to do as to giving us a glimpse of that indescribable complexity,,,

    DNA – Replication, Wrapping & Mitosis – video
    https://vimeo.com/33882804

  3. This seems to brim over with issues linked to FSCO/I. How can these be explained on a basis of blind chance and necessity starting with a stew of chemicals in a warm little pond or the like, without any intelligent organisation? On what observational basis?

    It can’t.

    Tada! Falsified. It should conclude as simple as that (actually simpler).

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find no such case.” – Darwin
    ————

    On such evidence. Like Scott Minnich once said, it has philosophical implications, but so-be-it.

    But why would anyone ignore or resist the obvious anyway, and insist otherwise?

    Romans 1:

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. – NASB

  4. kf, you may appreciate this:

    “What if I told you being an atheist does not automatically make you a scientist” – picture
    http://www.livememe.com/b1pc4u9

  5. I wonder there’s a vesicle union.

    But didn’t life itself start out as a vesicle?

    Poof!

  6. Folks:

    Let us look at the language in use here, remembering this is the Nobel Committee speaking:

    “how the cell organizes its transport system”

    “Each cell is a factory”

    “the molecular principles that govern how this cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time”

    “Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic”

    “James Rothman unravelled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo”

    “the exquisitely precise control system for the transport and delivery of cellular cargo”

    “Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects”

    “cells produce molecules such as hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines and enzymes that have to be delivered to other places inside the cell, or exported out of the cell, at exactly the right moment. Timing and location are everything.”

    “How do these vesicles know where and when to deliver their cargo?”

    Fascinating.

    A traffic control system, with precise timing and destination control, doubtless backed up by just in time manufacturing.

    One plainly manifesting irreducible complexity to significant degree: “Disturbances in this system have deleterious effects.”

    (BTW, so how does the cell avoid gridlock, given that this would have deleterious consequences? Traffic flow design and management are non-trivial design challenges.)

    What is all of this telling us about the nature of the living cell as a gated, encapsulated, molecular nanotech, metabolising automaton with a built-in self replicating facility?

    KF

  7. . . . with a traffic regulating facility too!

  8. Does ID predict the presence of stoplights in the cell?

  9. Notice the missing side?

    PS: Stoplights? Those kludges?

  10. Oh, so it uses traffic cops? I bet they have a union too.

  11. oh look, that traffic light is wired from the front! No intelligent designer would ever do that!

  12. ok, so this thread fits in, sort of, to a topic near and dear to me. What was that first cell membrane like?

    What was permitted to enter, and what was permitted to exit, and by what mechanism(s) did elements and and leave, and how did that come to be the case?

    To me this is one of the most ignored aspects of ‘origin of life research.’

    So whatever was inside this membrane had certain “needs” and it just so happens that what was “needed” was present? How so?

    Osmosis?

  13. Mung @ 12

    ok, so this thread fits in, sort of, to a topic near and dear to me. What was that first cell membrane like?

    Maybe, it was a soap bubble, just a small one.

    A question I have for any supposed proto membrane, is even if it could divide evenly (which is really too generous an assumption). How did it make or increase the material making up the two smaller membranes? If it kept reusing the material, it would just keep getting smaller in subsequent generations. And if it could increase the material, how would it not make too much? What’s the term you usede before Mung? When is it ‘just right’. :P

    Ok… nvm… back to traffic lights.

  14. In one animation, I recall seeing these machines traveling down carrying cargo and maybe returning using at least two lanes and in two directions on the same microtubule. So, there are traffic rules. I wonder if the machines have a rule to travel down the right or left side… and maybe no passing zones (Afterall, you might not want to send a package to arrive too early.).

  15. BA77: Too often, you are subjected to scorn for citing, linking and posting. But 2 and 4 above show how important that can be. KF

  16. I don’t know if these discoveries are actually a big deal.
    These are small circles and it seems all these things are just the next step in a examination of cells etc.
    I question they discovered anything more then the next lab next month.
    HOWEVER
    There is a point here for creationism.
    I always like it when they give awards of smartness to people for DISCOVERING what already exists. they are not inventing but only discovering.
    If its a great intellectual feat to discover biological mechanisms then how much more is the origin and complexity of the mechanism to be seen as INTELLIGENT.
    If biology is from dumb chance then why is figuring out its workings to be so acclaimed!!?
    It smacks that they REALLY do think biology is very complicated and figuring it is a big deal. Its just that damn complicated!!
    If mutation and selection did it all then would it not be simple and easy to unravel??
    If a thinking being did it then it would be a intellectual accomplishment to figure out how it works.
    Even then one is just figuring out how something in front of you works.
    Its not like their is any fixing or improving going on here.
    Just a funny think as i see it.

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