what is alive

zauhar at elara.tripos.com zauhar at elara.tripos.com
Wed Sep 18 13:28:31 EST 1996

 Martijn Huynen wrote:

   > There is one fundamental difference between prions and viruses.
   > The latter evolve and adapt, whereas the former (as far as I
   > understand) do not.
   > This would make viruses more alife than prions.

  But at the same prions must evolve in a sense - mutations
 in the host protein might make the prion conformation unstable, thus acting
 as a lethal mutation for the prion. At the same time, another mutation might
 compensate for the first change, and restore the possibility of adopting the
 prion conformation. Thus the ability to carry the "information parasite" 
 is a product of the evolutionary process. Of course that is not the same
 thing as the prion "itself" adapting, since information needs a carrier
 if it is to undergo transformation. 


All opinions expressed here are mine, not my employer's

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