There are 200 different types of cells constituting the 60 trillion that make up the human body. The decades long genome project found there were only 20,500 genes in the human body. A tomato has nearly 32,000 genes. We are far more complicated than a tomato so why do we have so few genes? Why didn’t we have more genes to account for the myriad differences a human body has compared to a tomato? Shortly after the genome project discovered this unsettling truth that there had to be more than genetics operating here, an article appeared in a scientific journal that explained what was happening.
“This finding that the human genome contains fewer genes than previously predicted might be compensated by combinatorial diversity generated at the level of…posttranslational modification of proteins” (J.C. Venter, et al., Science (2001),291,1304.)
Glycosylation is the most common “posttranslational modification of proteins and 50% of all human protein is glycoprotein. Glycosylation is what creates glycoproteins and it is the glycans that generate the billions of different varieties in proteins necessary to account for diverse human gene expression.
The top scientific institution in the United States issued a 200 page publication entitled, Transforming Glycoscience: A Roadmap for theFuture, in October 2012. The National Academy of Science (NAS) stated in their publication that “…the reactions that link individual sugar units together [glycosylation] are influenced by factors including cellular metabolism, cell type, developmental stage, and nutrient availability.”
The syntheses of DNA, RNA, and proteins are template-driven, and the sequence of one can generally be predicted from that of another. Glycosylation, is extremely complex, it is not template-driven, varies among different cell types, and cannot be easily predicted from simple rules. (St Amand MM, Tran K, Radhakrishnan D, Robinson AS, Ogunnaike BA. Controllability analysis of protein glycosylation in CHO cells. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e87973. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087973. eCollection 2014.)
The sugars represent a potential of 1×1014 (100,000,000,000,000) to 1×1015 “letters” in this sugar coded alphabit. (Research published in Glycosciences: Status and Perspectives, Laine, Roger A., 1997). The sugars used in the process of glycosylation are what makes the proteins different and those differences explain why we are so different from a tomato. We also know from the NAS that when things go wrong it is serious. “Altered glycosylation is a universal feature of cancer and contributes to pathogenesis and progression.” (NAS, October 2012)
What all this means is that there is a language that rides above the genes and turns certain genes on and others off. Sugar attached to glycoproteins are the cell receptors that initiate binding activity with outside forces and transmit that information into action inside the cell. That hidden sugar code is influenced by the type of cell, the age of the cell (sugars are different on cells depending upon their maturity level – baby cells, teenager cells, adult cells) but most importantly, nutrient availability. You cannot build these cell surface sugar structures correctly and ensure your immune system will function correctly without sugar nutrients being richly supplied within the body. Despite the unfounded emphasis on genetics, we are not a victim to our genes. There is a new science called epigenetics that restores the knowledge that we had the power all along. We have a choice concerning what we eat and what we supplement. Since we must supplement, it is important to ensure we get plant-based, natural vitamins, minerals and sugar nutrients. Basically, good food turns on good genes and bad food turns on bad genes (or suppresses the good genes!) It turns out grandma was right, “You are what you eat.”
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