10 June 2017

Can someone make me a new gene?

What would it take to make a completely new gene?

Interesting question, but first let's agree on roughly what we mean by a "new gene." Here is how I defined the topic when discussing unique human attributes:
A truly new and unique human gene, for my purposes here, would be a gene that makes a protein that is unique to humans—a protein never before seen, not something merely tweaked from a precursor.
"Creation of Eve." Was she completely new?
So you see we mean something a lot more "new" than, for example, the human-specific version of the FoxP2 gene, which I have discussed before. And we mean something that is born overnight. After all, incremental changes over eons can result in a gene being transformed into something utterly different. That's interesting, of course, but it's not what we mean by a "new gene." We are discussing genes that appear suddenly and code for protein, and we want them to truly "appear" and not merely move from one species to another.