Friday, November 30, 2007

Nuclear Pore Complex Structure

This is just mind-blowing. In the link is a pretty decent explanation of the research, as well as links to the papers and a video interview with two of the (many) authors.

The nuclear pore complex (NPC) is the gatekeeper of the nucleus. Eukaryotic cells (including the cells that make up humans and other higher organisms) contain a nucleus which contains the cell's genome. The nuclear envelope is the barrier which encases the genome, however it has to be selective in what it keeps in or out. In other words it has to somehow let in specific molecules that are necessary for a huge number of nuclear processes, and allow other molecules to exit. The way it does this is through NPCs. NPCs poke big holes in the nucleus, but act as the gatekeepers of these holes. They prevent molecules from entering or exiting the nucleus unless they have a ticket, er, actually, that is, unless they are associated with transport proteins.

Anyway, the NPC is too big to get a crystal structure, but still sub-microscopic enough that it is hard to make out the fine details like where specific components are. This study was a real tour de force because it compiled molecular restraints from biochemical and proteomic experiments into a program that generated a most likely conformation of the NPC. It's a thing of beauty too. It's like a donut with spaghetti in the middle. The spaghetti is too thick for large molecules to pass through, while little ones can squeeze through with ease. Additionally, if a molecule is associated with the right transport factor (or if it has a ticket), the spaghetti lets it pass. Donuts and spaghetti! It makes perfect sense!


Oh man. Had a busy November with various familial obligations and research objectives to meet. Lots of good stuff going on though. And now I'm home sick on a Friday night. yay. I loved the NOVA special on the Dover schoolboard trials. It's hardly worth talking about since so many others have given their thoughts (like here, and here). Good stuff though. Check out Monkey Girl by Edward Humes if you're interested in more details about that particular ID fiasco. There were lots of fascinating characters and ins-and-outs and what-have-yous during that whole trial. Humes did a fantastic job putting it together in his book. One thing that I did not notice in the NOVA special that was a great point in the book was that judge Jones was quoted as regretting his decision to keep cameras out of the courtroom. He said the scientific evidence was so overwhelming, and was presented in such an organized way that everyone should have been privy to it (my intereperetation of his words). To bad. An oppurtunity missed if you ask me, but it was still a landmark victory for logic and common sense.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

ERV's Translation

OK, here is ERV's 'parentification' of her debate with Michael Behe. If you can't tell I truly enjoy reading her blog, and everyone should check it out regularly. As soon as I get a chance I'll make a list of all of the science blogs that I read daily.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy! (yay!)

My first comment. What a rush. And from ERV, one of my favorite science bloggers, too! She previously posted a great 'parentification' of this argument, and has promised to post a second, more detailed one soon. This is nice because I don't have to research all of the details and translate it, and because she is clearly much more of an authority than I on the subject so it will be 100x better that anything I could do. I'll post the link when it arrives.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Might as Well

Even though this helps her not at all (because I have yet to get any readers [I'm a pathetic beast, I am]), I would feel remissed if I did not link to a beautifully worded and elegant article by ERV. She responds to Michael Behe, who I can only describe as detestable at best for his fraudulent claim to be a scientist, all the while misrepresenting bad science and ignoring good science in his quest to debunk evolution. I really don't need to say much about it as she takes care of him so thoroughly that there is nothing left to explain.

I'm a little confused about Behe's motives in all of this. I suspect that he was never a particularly good scientist, knew this, and saw an opening in society as a "scientist"-spokesperson for intelligent design (ID). Pretty shrewd, but his bit is getting old as he seems to just be mailing it in these days. He doesn't even try to make a reasonable argument anymore. He makes it too easy for intelligent bloggers like ERV to tear him apart. I guess it was inevitable all along.