”If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”: Moss defense mechanism transplanted into human cells and corrected errors in DNA

Direct editing of genetic information with the help of “genetic scissors” and the insertion of absolutely third-party genetic information into the DNA of the recipient is no longer enough. This mechanism is called CRISPR/CAS9. Short essays have been written about the practical applications of this natural mechanism in the interests of man and about possible irreversible consequences.

Recently, Geneticists have transplanted the mechanisms that are used to protect against accumulated mutations from moss into human cells. A Labroots article states on the subject:

Protein creation is essential to the normal function of healthy cells. Proteins help communicate key information to various parts of the cell. All proteins are formed from DNA, or the general blueprint the cell uses to create proteins. In order to create proteins from the DNA, RNA is produced. In this context, RNA functions as a copy of the DNA that can be used to help the cell function.

In certain land plants, in particular, DNA is stored in three locations: the nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. The process of creating RNA from DNA, however, is not perfect. Inevitably, mistakes do occur, leading to the incorrect production of proteins (or no production of them at all). In fact, mutations can accumulate in the DNA itself over time, leading to the incorrect production of RNA.

So what do plants do?

The moss Physcomitrium patens, specifically, has an editing strategy to help clean up these mutations, though the editing takes place in each individual strand of RNA that’s produced. So rather than editing the master copy (DNA), the moss edits each copy (RNA). Researchers speculate that this may have been an evolutionary response as plants moved from sea to land.

With a particular focus on how this moss edits RNA, a team of researchers at the University of Bonn have harnessed the RNA editing processes of Physcomitrium patens and transplanted them into human cells.

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Specifically, the team transplanted the editing processes into kidney and cancer cells, and found that this machinery also worked in human cells, but with some of its own quirks. For example, certain editing processes located exclusively in the mitochondria of the moss’ cells impacted RNA transcript in human cell nuclei. In fact, the editing machinery impacts about 900 different targets in the human cell, compared to two targets in the moss cells.

At this point, it’s still impossible to detect where these editing mechanisms will strike next. 

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So what does all this mean? 

Given how many targets these editing mechanisms can affect in human cells, there’s a need to better study these mechanisms and better understand how they work. Doing so could help researchers use these editing processes more precisely, potentially even leading towards treatment for certain hereditary diseases. 

It is clear enough that we attempt climbing into the innermost secrets of all living

The researchers in this work dug even deeper and dug into the mechanisms that are identical for the plant world and for the entire world of fauna, from unicellular to primates. They were able to shove the unpushable and transfer the DNA editing mechanism from moss to human cells, making sure that it works. 

There remains a “trivial” question, but what exactly will change the editing mechanism for moss in a disproportionately more complex human mechanism. And perhaps, “disproportionately more complex” is a very weak term that does not reflect even a small fraction of the realities.

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You can watch a short colorful and short of “poetic” video explaining the essence of genetic editing, and feel the problem of mutations when changing (adding, removing) only one nitrogenous base (of which there are only four in nature) in just one basic triplet, which in turn triggers the shift process along the entire protein reading chain:

And this process is weighty, rude, visible to the simplest multicellular organisms, like fruit flies, will result in the birth of flies with six wings, four legs or an unimaginable and chaotic gene mutation.

The transfer of the editing mechanism from moss to humans, with disproportionately more complex genetics, is unpredictable and uncontrollable in principle.

Alas, technologically is already possible to do this, and the last step will be in the search for one useful mutation obtained using such a transfer mechanism, followed by monetization of this function and high technology on behalf of opinion leaders, corrupt scientists, politicians, big pharma, etc. 

No one will investigate the consequences in the medium and long term of such a transfer, both because of the high cost and time of study, and because of the absolute unpredictability of possible consequences. To snatch here and now is the goal and task of both a separate organization and the global system. All existing business models, one way or another, are formed around this fundamental principle and cover this shame with a fig leaf of the “Mission statement”, formulated by marketers.

Our civilization has approached the threshold, and to rake this fabulous beastliness will probably be another form of intelligent life. As Nietzsche said:

“He who fights with monsters should be careful not to become a monster himself. And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”


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