Someone tell Behe to shut up about viruses. SOMEONE.
From Lous notes on a recent presentation:
New Dude: HIV, someone in the family died this week. Evolutionary Biology, according to evolutionary biology says that HIV comes from some predecessor. That provided a research program. Let’s look at the closest relative. Cousin doesn’t kill chimpanzees. So I question this, this is an example that Darwinian evolution producing a research program to help people. What’s ID done?
Behe: big sigh, I want to stress, but the talk goes quickly, but ID doesn’t say that Darwinian evolution can’t do anything, just not everything. Accepts genetic change, common descent, but at the molecular level,, evolutiion is breaking things. Doesn’t explain molecular machinery.
In Hiv it evolves, rapidly, and it looks like it came from chimps, made the leap, rabies, not unique, at the molecular level just takes a couple changes in a preexisting protein….
I might be getting the wrong message from Lous notes, but it appears Behe thinks viruses infecting organisms other than the host its evolved for is no big whoop. “SIV to HIV? No big whoop. Rabies does it. Boring.”
Behe appears to be under the impression that zoonotic events– non-human pathogens infecting humans– is a trivial thing at ‘the molecular level’.
What a goddamn IDiot.
I personify/animate viruses a lot on my blag. But to be perfectly clear, viruses are not sentient beings. They do not have needs/wants/desires any more than water ‘wants’ to freeze at 32 F. Thus a lot of things viruses do are ‘mistakes’.
HPV causing cervical cancer in humans is a ‘mistake’. It provides no benefit to the virus.
Polio causing paralysis in humans is a ‘mistake’. Polio virus wants you to poop it out, it doesnt want to eat your muscles/nerves.
For a zoonotic example, rabies doesnt ‘want’ to infect humans. We are a dead-end host. That means if I am infected with rabies, I cant infect you (unless you get an organ transplant from me *blink*).
A rabies infected human has absolutely nothing to do with ‘a couple changes in a preexisting protein’. There has been no evolutionary/selective pressure on rabies to infect humans, it just does what it does when it gets in a human (like water just freezes when it gets cold enough) and it gets itself stuck.
HIV was a completely different story.
As ‘new dude’ rightly notes– HIV kills us, but SIV isnt really a ‘big deal’ in non-human primates. Non-human primates dont wear condoms and have access to antiretrovirals. So why are they doing okay? Does ‘evolution’ matter?
First of all, SIV has crossed over into humans lots of times. We know its happened on at least 4 independent occasions, because we have four different kinds of HIV today– HIV-1 (Groups M, N, and O) and HIV-2.
The HIV thats causing all the trouble is HIV-1 Group M. HIV-2 is a different creature than HIV-1 (different genes with different functions), but M, N, and O are all ‘the same virus’ that came from ‘the same animal’– chimpanzees. Whats the deal?
Due to random genetic drift (QUASISPECIES!), Group M came from a version of SIV that was ‘more fit’ than N or O (even though theyre ‘all the same virus’). Group M viruses can make more baby viruses in humans than other kinds of HIV, so they out-compete other kinds of HIV. Yay.
But thats not the whole story. Because HIV-1 can be transmitted human-to-human, we get a new layer of evolutionary selection. Its not like rabies that can just multiply in a human, but gets stuck– by being repeatedly passaged from one human to the next, HIV-1 gets a chance to adapt. It can cycle through its mutations, picking our locks. Thus when we looked at areas of the HIV-1 genome that were mutating faster than we would have anticipated (but still maintaining functionality), we are like ‘Hey! There is a selective pressure there! What is it?’
Thats how we found components of our immune system we didnt even know existed, pre-HIV– tetherin, the APOBEC family, the TRIM family, etc. And from these new discoveries we are creating new antivirals (yes, antivirals that work on more than ‘The Lords Curse-HIV’– antivirals that could work on shit like EBOLA).
Innate human antivirals dont just ‘break’ viruses. And viral anti-antivirals dont just ‘break’ our innate defenses. These arent friggin machine guns and sledge hammers here, people. These proteins evolve specific interactions with other proteins to guide them to alternate parts of the cell, to be sneaky stow-aways in progeny virions, to lasso viruses to the surface of infected cells. Thats infinitely more COMPLEX than ‘evolution just breaks things’.
A non-human virus adapting to humans is not ‘no big whoop’. It is an intricate evolutionary feat. ‘New guy’ was absolutely right. We use those ‘trivial’ evolutionary differences between humans and primates, and ‘trivial’ evolutionary differences between HIV and SIV to not only learn more about ourselves, but to develop new therapies to help sick people.
So I repeat his question, cause Behe didnt answer it: Whats ID done?