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The Molecule Of Life, Part II

Proteins are the molecules that are actively working during reactions. For example, in order for the electron transport chain (ETC) – the third stage of cellular respiration – to flow, a number of specific proteins must be present:

NADH and FADH2 carry the electrons to the protein complexes. Once there, ubiquinone and cytochrome C transport the electrons from complex to complex within the chain. At the end of the ETC, the ATP synthase enzyme is present, whereby it acts for the principal mechanism involved in the production of ATP.

This is one example amongst many. Although perhaps very obvious to all, it is worth reiterating here that respiration would not occur if it weren’t for the proteins involved.

MRS GREN is a way of remembering the seven processes an organism must consistently perform to count as being alive.

                                                         Movement

                                                         Respiration

                                                         Sensitivity

                                                         Growth

                                                         Reproduction

                                                         Excretion

                                                         Nutrition

If we were to look into each one of these processes we would see that, at the core, they all consist of protein activity. Along the same lines, would it be fair to say that the molecule that controls life is in fact the protein and not DNA? Although unconventional and perhaps heretic, it remains a just observation.

Continuing from the above, we know that the way in which proteins work relies on their movement. If a protein is left alone it does not move, so what causes the activity of proteins? It comes down to the signals that they receive and abide by. Well where do these signals come from? The answer, very simply, is the environment. Hold that thought.

The most important statement in biology is named the central dogma. It says that biology begins with DNA, which leads to RNA and finally to the proteins. However, what is ignored in this statement is that the DNA does not control itself. Genes are activated or deactivated as a result of the movement of regulatory proteins. The positioning of these DNA proteins is in turn controlled by environmental influences. So effectively, perhaps the central dogma should be revised to say the following:

Environment > Regulatory Proteins > DNA > RNA > Proteins

The above also erases a particular argument against the protein as the molecule that controls life. One might say that in order for the protein to be present and a reaction to be carried out, the protein must first be made by the DNA (example of a reference to the central dogma). However, to this I say the following: If part of a DNA strand needs to make a certain protein, it will be able to do so thanks to the movement of the regulatory proteins (see previous paragraph).

So where does this take us?

We have devalued the importance of the DNA as the molecule that controls life.

We have disproved the myth that the “brain” of the cell is the nucleus, and have concluded that it is in fact the cell surface membrane.

We have brought attention to the protein, and stated its crucial role in living processes and hence, in life.

We have considered the activation of the protein, as we know that when undisturbed, it remains latent.

We have reiterated that the protein is in action only when triggered by a signal.

We have considered the origin of these signals, which ultimately, is the environment. This not only encompasses messages transmitted by the brain, but also those put in place by the environment: the fields, messages and molecules that are always present around us.

These concepts spur questions that unfortunately cannot all be discussed in this article, but please do not hesitate to ask. I also strongly recommend that you look up Professor Bruce Lipton, whose knowledge, studies and thoughts are what led me to write this article. 

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Will the Chytrid Fungus Kill All Our Frogs?

Scientists in Australia first discovered the chytrid fungus – scientifically referred to as Chytridiomycosis dendrobatitis – in the late 1970’s. However it is believed to have first occurred in Africa.

The chytrid fungus enters the amphibian’s body through the skin where it begins to multiply and spread in the middle layers. This becomes an increasing problem for the frog, as it breathes and drinks through its skin. In order to combat the fungus, the frog produces more skin cells. However, this only allows the fungus to spread further and the skin to thicken. The frog loses its ability to breath and drink, causing it to become weaker and eventually die of suffocation.

As a result of this chytrid fungus, 120 of Central America’s amphibian species have become extinct since 1980, with many more in grave danger at present.

So what can be done in order to stop the extinction of many more amphibian species? Veterinarians and researchers are ensuring that infected species around the world are being taken in under care. The fungus is then eradicated from their bodies, as this is possible to do in a controlled environment. The species are taken into zoos. However this poses another problem. Frogs and amphibians cannot continue to live in zoos permanently. Their natural habitat is the wild and our hope is that someday they may be released back into the wild with no worry that the fungus will attack again. But how to stop the chytrid fungus? Scientists need to find a way of completely eradicating it from the wild. Alternatively, a breeding program (selective breeding) could be put into place, whereby the frogs would not only become resistant to the fungus, but also reproduce to enlarge the number of individuals in their species back to their original size.

A Panamanian Golden Frog

In Panama, the Golden Frog is under threat. Thankfully, measures are being taken: the frogs are being put under quarantine and then into an enclosed space referred to as the “clean room”. In this room they are rid of the fungus, fed and looked after. Space is limited, hence why they are providing the frogs with a new space in one of Panama’s zoos. This is just one example of the amphibian crises that are occurring and being dealt with as a result of the chytrid fungus.

Personally, I believe that although this is a worrying issue at the moment, it is something that can be managed and eventually resolved. How long the process will take I cannot say, however the surveillance and care of the endangered species is already a big step forward. The next, as mentioned earlier, is to find a solution, which will allow these frogs and other amphibians to be released back into the wild without risk of infection and extinction once more.

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