If we are made in Gods image, God is made of gag, pol, and env.

And God sent his only son to Earth, ERV9, to perform miracles in His name. Like bringing dead genes back to life.


A fun paper in PLOS Genetics describes an absolutely bizarre scenareo– A gene, IRGM, was ‘lost’ in the primate lineage like 50 million years ago. It turned into a pseudogene thanks to an Alu insertion, accumulation of a couple premature stop-codons, and a nice little frame-shift.

Well, about 24-20 million years ago, a retrovirus (ERV9) plopped its little butt upstream of IRGM, IRGM lost its stops and frameshift, and IRGM became functional again with a nice, shiny new ERV LTR as a promoter in gorillas, chimps, and humans!

Yay! Cause IRGM is a component of our innate immune system, specializing in whomping bacteria! Could be a handy weapon to have around!

No yay! Cause IRGM isnt the same IRGM that we had 50 million years ago. Its now got an ERV LTR for a promoter, it sits in a different part of the genome, and its surrounding genome landscape has changed dramatically– 33 retrotransposons (LINES/SINES/LTRs) have taken up residence upstream of IRGM!! Some people have a 20,000 base-pair deletion upstream from IRGM. This leads to expression of IRGM in wrong tissues at wrong levels, which could be a potential cause of Crohns disease.

But there is no doubt, this gene was dead, and was brought back to life, in part, though an ERV promoter. I cant complain about science journalists messing this up*. Its just good old fashioned cool 🙂

*I will, however, bitch about that “USEFUL JUNK?!? HURRR!” comment… Jesus. I mean, ERV9. 😛


  1. #1 Rayven Alandria
    March 9, 2009

    This is quite interesting, I am going to go read the articles. I am curious if EDS is caused by something similar.

    On an off topic subject, did you get my last email? I sent you a cool looking hyperlink for your blog. Go here and see if you like it. If you like it, feel free to use it wherever you want.


  2. #2 Skeeve
    March 9, 2009

    Hmmm, I guess if I’m going to visit this site, I will need to buy an ERV to English dictionary. 🙂

    BTW, when are we gonna go bar hopping in the city? 29th ST is calling me.

  3. #3 Skeeve
    March 9, 2009

    Um…see how long it’s been? 39th ST.

  4. #4 ERV
    March 9, 2009


    Skeeve– Get your booty up here! Party party party!

  5. #5 Rayven Alandria
    March 9, 2009

    Yippee! I knew you’d like it. I told my son “Oh, Abbie is going to frikkin’ love it!” It came out so cool looking and against dark backgrounds it looks especially awesome. If anyone wants to link to your blog, all they have to do is use this code, or convert it to whatever code their page uses.

  6. #6 Alan Smithee
    March 10, 2009

    Hey Abbie, what’s up with all of your OU science faculty friends being rabid Christians?


  7. #7 JJanowiak
    March 10, 2009


  8. #8 JJanowiak
    March 10, 2009

    Yikes Abbie, you’ll have to take over the shittalking because I’m in way over my head with this guy.

  9. #9 Sili
    March 10, 2009

    Damn. I *know* I’ve just heard this. I even think I *heard* rather than read it. But I can’t place it.

    Damn this Alzheimer’s ultra-light.

  10. #10 JJanowiak
    March 10, 2009

    Hey ERV, are you sure you’re not conflating Dr. Mark L. Strauss, theologian, with Dr. Mark G. Strauss, physicist?

  11. #11 ERV
    March 10, 2009

    Hey JJ!

    Yup! All of the info Ive used is freely available on his OU webpage:

    Over the last few years I have had a number of opportunities to speak at universities and churches on the relationship between science and Christianity, and to work with Reasons to Believe, an organization that integrates faith and science. YouTube has an excerpt of one of my talks and an excerpt of an interview I gave on this subject. The full talk or full interview can be purchased at Access Research Network.

    Hes deep in the TARD.

  12. #12 Pdiff
    March 10, 2009

    “Yup! All of the info Ive used is freely available on his OU webpage:”

    But, … But, How can this be!?? The OU enforcers for Evilution Scientists Conspiring Against Creationists must be slacking. He should have been Expelled by now! This is disgraceful.


  13. #13 JJanowiak
    March 10, 2009

    Hah, okay. I didn’t really google much beyond his main page but noticed that there’s another Mike Strauss, who weirdly enough taught at Biola.

    You should take a gander at the page associated with his faith statement, a Faculty Christian club at OU from over ten years ago, even though it seems like most of its members are random staff and physical plant workers :-p.

    By the way, I love the blog, I’ve been checking it daily for more shit talking during this whole Darwin Awards thing.

  14. #14 Alloytoo
    March 11, 2009

    Some interesting new perspective.

    The questions I asked on reviewing the report were:

    “Did the Gene become operational in response to the retrovirus which subsequently became part of the human genome?


    Did the ERV insertion result in circumstances which rendered the gene operational?”

    Clearly the first question is moot, the ERV insertion gave this long dead gene new (and different) life.

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