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Non-random evolution of a “molecular handshake”

Posted on January 9, 2013 by James Kohl.

First image of insulin ‘docking’ could lead to better diabetes treatments

Excerpt: “Both insulin and its receptor undergo rearrangement as they interact – a piece of insulin folds out and key pieces within the receptor move to engage the insulin hormone. You might call it a ‘molecular handshake’.”

Subscription required: How insulin engages its primary binding site on the insulin receptor

My comment: This structure and receptor-mediated function is required for nutrient chemical-dependent pheromone-controlled behavior in species from microbes to man. Their imagery exemplifies non-random adaptive evolution and how “Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.

In my model (click once here) for example, glucose is a conserved energy source for yeasts and it also regulates gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurosecretory cells of brain tissue that respond to food odors and pheromones in mammals. (Click again here): Human Pheromones: Epigenetic Effects of Odors and Their Affects on Behavior

Andy Collings the Managing Editor, eLife decided against posting my latest comment (see below) because it deviates away from the article in question, and because I did not declare my involvement with http://pheromones.com.  I had hoped to discuss the science.

“In my model, the bottom-up epigenetic effects on stochastic gene expression are largely dependent on adaptively evolved glucose uptake and the top-down epigenetic effects on stochastic gene expression come from the metabolism of nutrient chemicals to species specific pheromones. The honeybee model organism best exemplifies this epigenetic tweaking of immense gene networks and how the epigenetic effects of food odors and pheromones on the glucose-dependent secretion of mammalian gonadotropin releasing hormone also links genes to behavior and back.

The additional information about the histone core and fine-tuning of the required plasticity appear to attest to the control of chromatin remodeling by the microRNA / messenger RNA balance. It would interest me to learn if others agree with that proposal given the extreme technicalities of the issues addressed by Santoro and Dulac.

I note, for example that Dr. Lomvardas is senior author on a paper that states: “at the highest level of chromatin organization, the epigenetic ‘‘landscape’’ becomes a physical landscape where particular genes and regulatory sequences are hidden or exposed in accordance with the cell type and function.” This is incredibly astute and the most succinct statement of cause and effect I have seen. In one fell swoop it links epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones to the adaptive evolution of the human brain and behavior via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction driven by olfactory/pheromonal input. Doesn’t it?”

See How keeping active pays off in the olfactory system with my initial comment and the response by Dr. Lomvardas. He simply restates my case without addressing my comment. As some of us now can see, however, this is not something that can be discussed non-technically, or indefinitely dismissed.

 

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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What is the vomeronasal organ (VNO)?

The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is a cone-shaped organ in the nasal cavity, which is believed to be one of the body's receptors of pheromones. More, specifically, the VNO, which is part of the accessory olfactory system in the nose, does not respond to normal scents, but may detect odorless, barely perceptible pheromones.

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Learn more about the science behind pheromones here.

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