Mad Cow = Ancient Enemy?

Mons Formicarum

Registered Member
Research into the vectors of Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) has shown that no organism is responsible for our modern, potentially paradigm-shifting outbreak. Rather, the culprits are prion proteins, chain-building protein molecules which leave residual tunnels through bovine neural tissue. Is it not hypothesized that some of the earliest forms of "pre-life" were strikingly similar?
Yes, I remember having read some of that...
If so,would be a nice chance to discover the "key step",between this organisms and true life...

I found funny that it was precisely you that raised the topic,that use a name referred to primitive life,Mount of the ants...are you interested in zoology and/or paleontology?I m a big fan of those...
RE: Zoology and Paleontology

I am also a fan of both sciences, Javier, although the seed of my interest in zoology is entomology. Of the higher organisms, insects have the longest history on our world. Therefore, it stands to reason that they have in fact had the greatest opportunities for interaction within our biosphere. Their successful colonization of virtually every habitat on the planet, their remarkable diversity, their fascinating biological designs, even their nigh-magical symbiotic relationships with plants, all conspire to make me a fan of the insects. Sure, humanity developed intelligence and the means to use it, but in terms of biomass the insects still rule the planet. In the long term, we can be seen as soldiers in a war for control of the earth. However, despite the extensive evolutionary history of either insects or humans, there is a third army pounding on both our walls: the lower orders of virii and microbial life. On top of that, we now know that we also have to deal with another form in the shape of prion proteins. This is where the definition of life gets very fuzzy (Javier, this also relates to your post over at "Life Elsewhere"--I love cross connections like that!).
Hi Mons,

I don t know if you read the short story by Arthur C.Clark the next tenants;if not I think you would love it...
Your comments also remembered me that movie from the seventies "The first men to the moon",felt really sorry for those selenites...
You know what,I think that the great adaptational success that those organisms achieved back in the carboniferous prevented them from evolve towards intelligence,because they didn t needed it:lucky for us,for as we ll soon be able to direct consciously our evolution(if we don t screw things first,of course),we ll surpass any naturally(statistically)evolved lifeforms,and maybe with such a power we wont even need to fight them,just study...
RE: War for Control of the Earth

Of course, I was referring to "war for control of the Earth" metaphorically (the biomass comment I made--a great little piece of information to toss out at parties!). Although our opponents in this war have no conscious desire to smite us; instead, they merely have a powerful will to survive (in the case of the insects) or they are ruled by nature's mindless drive to continue a presence in the universe (in the case of the prion proteins). When you get right down to it, it is as equally miraculous that we are here as individuals, as it is that nature saw fit to build the ant scurrying across your toes.
Indeed, we are very close to picking up the reins to evolution, but this begs the question: Is our own imminent dominion over life through genetic science merely another stage in the natural progression of evolution? And if so, is it part of nature's plans, or are we on the threshold of thwarting nature with dramatic finality?
RE: Arthur C. Clarke: I was a huge fan of Clarke's writing as an early teen, and voraciously consumed everything he wrote. But it has been some time since, so perhaps I should revisit. However, his influences are apparent throughout my current fascination with all things natural (and some super-natural!).
P.S. where are you writing from, Javier?

HA,HA,I would like to see the result of that little parties experience¡¡...
Would wreck up some vanities...

In relation with our future evolution,I think that we already changed things dramatically when we improved our natural phisical abilities to surpass every living creature in its best quality,just manipulating the world(nature) around us(cars,planes,submarines,telescopes,clothes,etc,etc).

Nature acts in statistical ways:a naked man on the Serengeti plains has certain chance to die in a certain time,regardless of moral or ethics;by reforming objects,the man enhances his chances of survival,which,in my humble opinion, is the only law that nature teaches.(Until now,by hard brutal live-or-die Darwinian evolution)

But as long as his own phisical structure is also a natural object,sooner or later he will be able to figure out the way to reduce even more the odds imposed by him by the blind natural forces(to get cancer,or Alzheimer,to have a Down child),a result that will ,driven by intelligence and moral and self(as a species)convenience,produce faster and greater results as the world have never seen before(check out that whichever the distance that may separate us from other animals,they are,(and I won t say by Nature,for everything that happens is its design)just like us,product of statistical evolution).

How do you see this issue?

RE PS:I m from Buenos Aires,Argentina...

Opportunity still waits

Several times I’ve sit down with the intention of adding a note here. Through lack of time and drifting interest, I’ve not done so. To me it is not unusual to see some backward/preanimalistic/prehistoric type of near life to show up and be able to affect the animals now living. Or even us for that matter. It shows that we evolved here or there wouldn’t be the chance of it bothering us. Bet that at some time in prehistory it was a predator of the race. And it is still hanging around with the hopes of finding that great food bowl. It makes you wonder, how many more are yet to be found that we don’t know are there, waiting for the opportunistic moment to strike? How many more have evolved and are just that one evolvement step away from being the next major plague to strike? It makes you wonder. There is almost no place on earth that life in some form has not evolved to fill the empty niche. No matter how harsh the environment. Some have really taken unusual steps to survive. It leaves open a wide door to sneek into (if you will).
i had never thought of prion diseases as an 'ancient enemy', interesting. the fact that misfolded (truncated?) proteins can act as a template for further mis-folding kinda turns the central dogma on its head. i wonder if protein-to-protein interraction without the need for (complicated) enzymatic replication really does represent an evolutionary avenue that has been largely overlooked, i guess due to the fact that this route can only really run so far before. Am really interested in neurodegenerative disease if anyone is running any prion/PrP threads anywhere. regards....
Actually protein-protein interactions, especially guided foldings via chaperons. One should not confuse the misfoldings with replication. Afaik they only change the folding of existent proteins to the aberrant form and as such do not create new proteins de novo.
oh, dont get me wrong. i dont mean replication so much as the ability to adapt another protein to its 'aberrant' form (contrary to the central dogma) and thus continue the existence of these proteins. obviously this does not constitute replication, but it is interesting that these proteins act as templates and perpetuate their own existence independant of DNA or RNA.
actually, ignore the central dogma comment, not entirely relevant in the argument i am making. obviously some proteins can modify other proteins, but in the case of PrP, which i believe is a simple adhesion molecule (correct me if wrong please), with no enzymatic activity, its ability to modify other proteins from wild type to mis-folded is very interesting.
Maybe the reason the hindu's banned beef consumption had to do with a mad cow epidemic that took place thousands of years ago...
My microbiology professor's only fear was the Mad-Cow protein. It appears to be self replicating, and yet contains no DNA or RNA. It appears to induce other proteins that come into contact with it to become like itself.

This is a Word Document that gives you the a way to see if your beef is infected: