Monday, July 5, 2010

Animal Amour and Metabolic Networks

Les Nubians: Amour à Mort [Love Unto Death]


We're dogsitting this weekend, K, a 3-year old blond lab who has the most warm beautiful hazel eyes. My second daughter calls them 'copper hazelnut' eyes. She loves bossing him around... *haaa* Being the youngest, she finally has someone. He's a darling, patient and immensely playful.

My Animal Farm Growing Up

I grew up around animals but I look at them with different eyes knowing some science now. We lost our 12-14 year old 3 cats over the last 4 years to thyroid conditions -- 2 had Grave's and one had diabetes (and I think undiagnosed hypothyroidism). As a kid in Pennsylvania, we raised 2 rabbits and 3 turtles. My parents who grew up around pigs and animals for consumption really did not take to the idea of pets but we still had pets. After moving to Sacramento in 1979 my parents bought a farmhouse off of Florin Road which had geese, ducks, horse stable, rabbits and pigeons. We brought back 2 rabbits and 4 pigeons to our suburban home and raised them along with our 2 hamsters, 2 fox terriers Phillip and Fluffy, Tiger our red Irish setter, and a fresh-water aquarium. On and off we had 'pet' earth worms, praying mantis, dragon flies. tadpoles/frogs and other assorted backyard creatures. *haa* Pure happy mayhem may have been a good descriptor. Well we grew older, busy with school and tennis and had to find new homes for our furry, feathery and scaled friends.


Taking K hiking through the wooded Sunol park today I forget how animalistic animals are. Yes we had feline pets before but they were entirely domesticated except for the birds or cute mice they'd bring back for us for show. Actually 2 of our 3 cats were good hunters and brought back quite a few kills. Lynx would attack dogs and when one dog-owner approached us to note that Lynx must be sick because he stopped attacking her dog. We took him to the vet afterwards to learn he had Grave's hyperthyroidism.

Our temporarily adopted dog K tried to mark/impart his SCENT on every snag of vegetation, garbage can and tree during our hiking excursion. How can dogs urinate all day long?? Is it just 1-2 Tbs at a time?? He apparently was not interested in any of the raccoon or horse scat, but only other canine remains. Is it so hard-wired to be aware of other canines in the vicinity? What purpose? Territorial and reproductive instincts alone??

Most feline and canine eat only once a day. They are quite suited to intermittently fast routinely. Humans, are we so different? I don't think so.

Cunnane and Domesticated Fox

Cunnane writes in his epic book 'Survival of the Fattest' an interesting anecdote about the adrenal glands of a line of fox which are domesticated. He notes that the size of the adrenals shrink with domestication. Perhaps the constant necessity for testosterone, cortisol, progesterone and estrogen are no longer mandatory when food and survival are not ubiquitious requirements?

Is this what happened to humans with the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry?

Animal Husbandry?

WTF. Why such a name??? *haaa*

Human's Best Friend

Khyber is a great jogging partner. I took him on a couple trail hike/runs at Sunol and he did wonderfully -- matching my pace despite an annoying leash to his harness, leading me while not smelling every f*cking mark left from previous dogs, and somewhat providing protection. If a rattlesnake or mountain lion intersected our path, I do believe Khyber would have kicked into predator mode without a doubt and kicked some *ss. When we were in Mt. Shasta last week, we came upon rattlesnakes not only directly on our horse ride through the hills (to a SECRET cave *FUN!!!*) but also when we went to the waterside, we were cautioned that a young rattlesnake was found the night very close to the camps. Apparently it is unusual for rattles this time of year and the region -- the rain and recent change in weather plays a part apparently.

Metabolic Networks

When we were in Shanghai earlier this year, we met up with researchers who do research on Metabolic Networks which requires a strong background in physics, genomics, evolutionary biology, systems biology, bioinformatics, mathematics, biochemistry and a variety of other disciplines.

[Thank you LePine for your insights]

What I realize that is that we share so much homology with all living organisms, and this may go back to the first archebacteria 4 BILLION years ago (bya). Our mitochondria are the remnants of bacteria that have been push forwarded into mammalian cells. We can track the DNA signatures of the first life forms on earth to our mitochondria DNA which comprise of a humble set of 37 genes. Without mitochondria for energy systems, we would not have evolved.

Homology v. Complexity of Higher Life Forms

I think this diagram says it all (it actually crashed my computer twice). See citation #6. Homology exists between all life forms. Complexity however increases with increased skills of predation, IMHO. Humans are apparently at the apex of predation -- have taken over the earth and colonized every imaginable niche. (sometimes I think the bacteria have us by the GUT, pun intended *HAA*) Unfortunately our life form is also damaging earth in every imaginable niche as well -- terrestial, aquatic, and atmospheric...

'Red' Hotspots for Conservation of Individual Metabolic Pathways Between Archebacteria and all other Life Forms: Carb, Energy, Amino Acid, Nucleotide, and Lipid Metabolism

The 'red' color indicates greater than 90% of enzymes with significant DNA and protein sequence similarity. To appreciate our evolutionary past to 4 billion years ago, it is hard to escape our bacterial foundations that interact with our biology on every level: our metabolism, our gut, our pathogens, our immunity.

Longevity and Curing Cancer, Chronic Conditions and CAD

I would consider myself a strategist for conceiving longevity... I didn't plan it this way but by ameliorating a chronic condition with either pharmaceuticals or diet/lifestyle means, we are trying to improve longevity.

Mitochondria hold the the key between the balance between mTOR, SIRT-1, AMPK, and PPAR, as we've discussed before. These mini nuclear powerplants of energy production represent the link from our primordial past to the neolithic new world.

We are only as strong as our weakest mitochrondria...

Prior posts (Dr. Tourgeman, Dr. BG):

SIRT-1 -- (1) SIRT-1 (2) Aging and SIRT-1 (3) Evolutionary Skin and Muscles


1. Unusual pathways and enzymes of central carbohydrate metabolism in Archaea.
Siebers B, Schönheit P.
Curr Opin Microbiol. 2005 Dec;8(6):695-705. Epub 2005 Oct 26. Review.

2. Evolutionary aspects of whole-genome biology.
Doolittle RF.
Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2005 Jun;15(3):248-53. Review.

3. Distribution and phylogenies of enzymes of the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas pathway from archaea and hyperthermophilic bacteria support a gluconeogenic origin of metabolism.
Ronimus RS, Morgan HW.

4. The unique features of glycolytic pathways in Archaea.
Verhees CH, Kengen SW, Tuininga JE, Schut GJ, Adams MW, De Vos WM, Van Der Oost J.
Biochem J. 2003 Oct 15;375(Pt 2):231-46.

5. Microbial behavior in a heterogeneous world.
Fenchel T.
Science. 2002 May 10;296(5570):1068-71. Review.

6. The conservation and evolutionary modularity of metabolism.
Peregrín-Alvarez JM, Sanford C, Parkinson J.
Genome Biol. 2009;10(6):R63. [Free PDF here.]


Aaron Blaisdell said...

Thanks for the terrific reminder of how connected we are to all life on earth through our shared evolutionary pathways. Homology indeed! The best approach to understanding human health (and dog health, and rat health, and pigeon health, etc.) is to understand both the homology each individual shares with each other individual, and the homoplasy and apomorphies that are unique to each individuals ancestral pathways due to branching events in its unique phylogenies. This is the intent of the Ancestral Health Society with its annual symposium (to kick off to a rockin start in August 5-6, 2011!!!) and I presume the American Society of Evolutionary Medicine. We will bring the unifying theory of evolution into the purview of medical and health practice. (G)Rock on!

Dr. B G said...


Thank you for all your support and coordination of the AHS!! Yes -- let's collectively kick off both the AHS and ASEM!!!! Two of my favorite societies on earth.

*haa ah* I feel like Socrates.

Is not evolutionary metabolic networks SO VERY VERY COOL? FOUR BILLION YEARS of conservation of enzyme metabolic pathways...?! I love reading about homoplasy and apomorphies... We are all so similar yet divergently different... omg It is SO FASCINATING. GROCK AND ROCK ON indeed!


Anonymous said...

"Our temporarily adopted dog K tried to mark/impart his SCENT on every snag of vegetation, garbage can and tree during our hiking excursion. How can dogs urinate all day long?? Is it just 1-2 Tbs at a time?? He apparently was not interested in any of the raccoon or horse scat, but only other canine remains. Is it so hard-wired to be aware of other canines in the vicinity? What purpose? Territorial and reproductive instincts alone??"