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Subcellular Map of the Human Proteome Reveals “Highly Complex Architecture”


New research is using antibodies to map out the spatio-temporal locations of 12,003 different proteins in human cells. The results are another example of how, as Bruce Alberts put it in 1998, “We have always underestimated cells.”

Alberts explained how cells were once naïvely viewed as something of a haphazard affair, where molecules “were thought to diffuse freely, randomly colliding.” The new research reveals the “the highly complex architecture of the human cell” and adds more detail to the fact that the workings of the cell are far from random:

A total of 12,003 proteins targeted by 13,993 antibodies were classified into one or several of 30 cellular compartments and substructures, altogether defining the proteomes of 13 major organelles.

Although evolutionists “thought the cell was so simple,” this research is showing that the “cellular proteome is compartmentalized and spatiotemporally regulated to a high degree.” In fact “[m]ore than half of these 12,003 proteins localize in more than one compartment at the same time.” This is consistent with the fact that most proteins are capable of performing multiple functions, and is another indicator of high complexity:

Moreover, proteins that localize to more than one compartment may have context-specific functions, increasing the functionality of the proteome. The fact that proteins “moonlight” in different parts of the cell is now well accepted. … The more complex a system is, the greater the number of parts that must be sustained in their proper place, and the lesser the tolerance for errors; therefore, a high degree of regulation and control is required.

Indeed, the degree of regulation and control required for this system is not only enormous, but contrary to evolutionary expectations.

Image credit: HypnoArt via Pixabay.

Cross-posted at Darwin’s God.

Cornelius G. Hunter

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Cornelius G. Hunter is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology. He is Adjunct Professor at Biola University and author of the award-winning Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Hunter’s other books include Darwin’s Proof, and his newest book Science’s Blind Spot (Baker/Brazos Press). Dr. Hunter's interest in the theory of evolution involves the historical and theological, as well as scientific, aspects of the theory. His blog is Darwin's God.



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