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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

John Mattick's new book

John Mattick and Paulo Amaral have written a book that promotes their views on the content of the human genome. It will be available next August. Their main thesis is that the human genome is full of genes for regulatory RNAs and there's very little junk. A secondary theme is that some very smart scientists have been totally wrong about molecular biology and molecular evolution for the past fifty years.

I pretty much know what's going to be in the book [see John Mattick presents his view of genomes]. I also know that most of his claims don't stand up to close scrutiny but that's not going to prevent it from being touted as a true paradigm shift. (It's actually a paradigm shaft.) I suspect it's going to get favorable reviews in Science and Nature.

Here's how the publishers describe the book [RNA, the Epicenter of Genetic Information].

The origin story and emergence of molecular biology is muddled. The early triumphs in bacterial genetics and the complexity of animal and plant genomes complicate an intricate history. This book documents the many advances, as well as the prejudices and founder fallacies. It highlights the premature relegation of RNA to simply an intermediate between gene and protein, the underestimation of the amount of information required to program the development of multicellular organisms, and the dawning realization that RNA is the cornerstone of cell biology, development, brain function and probably evolution itself. Key personalities, their hubris as well as prescient predictions are richly illustrated with quotes, archival material, photographs, diagrams and references to bring the people, ideas and discoveries to life, from the conceptual cradles of molecular biology to the current revolution in the understanding of genetic information.
[Mattick has been] a true visionary in his field; he has demonstrated an extraordinary degree of perseverance and ingenuity in gradually proving his hypothesis over the course of 18 years.

Hugo Award Committee

Some of the promotional blurbs are written by Tom Cech, Joan Steitz, and John Rinn. The blurb by Peter Vogt (below) is a fabulous endorsement. It's also a really good illustration of the true meaning of irony.

The book is unique. It provides the long-overdue correction of the still widespread static views on evolution, development and genome organization and function. It has the potential to induce radical changes in widely held views and attitudes.

I really hope someone will write that about my book when it's published.

What's really interesting is how closely the section titles resemble the ones in my book. I suspect the content of those sections will be quite different. Here's an example ...

Chapter 7 All that junk

  • The C-value enigma
  • Duplication and transposition
  • Mutational load, nonsense DNA, nonsense RNA
  • Neutral evolution
  • Conservation and selection
  • Junk DNA
  • Selfish DNA
  • Genes-in-pieces!
  • Not junk?

Here are some recent posts about John Mattick.

1 comment :

Argon said...

'...but that's not going to prevent it from being touted as a true paradigm shift. (It's actually a paradigm shaft.)'

Yes. In the sense that the 'Cube shaped Earth' hypothesis is also a true paradigm shift. ;^)