To illustrate the significant challenges deutenomics is facing, let me quote two sentences from a recent publication by researchers at the Karolinska Institute, where the Nobel Prize is awarded in Science, in Stockholm. The article is from the team of Prof. Dr. Roman Zubarev and was published in the journal of the American Chemical Society (1).
1 "Finding an explanation for this phenomenon turned out to be problematic.”
2. "Remaining a mystery, the biochemical pathway for deuterium enrichment in proline and hydroxyproline residues of proteins calls for further investigation of this intriguing phenomenon.”
At the end of my post, these unexplained phenomena will be examined in light of the Tatárlaka disc and the Book of Job, written thousands of years ago.
Researchers led by Dr Zubarev extracted the collagen protein from the bones of seals and measured the deuterium content of its amino acid constituents, they did this for each amino acid, one by one. Seals regularly dive hundreds of meters at high speed to forage for food while surrounded by hunting walruses, sharks and killer whales. The strength of their muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones is key to their ability to adapt to rapid swimming, diving and tremendous pressure changes. In previous studies, this protein (archaeal collagen) has been shown to contain higher levels of deuterium by using mass spectrometry methods. The proline and hydroxyproline content of collagen can be 30% or higher and the covalent peptide bonds of these amino acids become 8-15 times stronger when hydrogen is replaced by deuterium. In this latest study, deuterium levels of ~300 ppm in (hydroxy)proline of seals were found to be extremely high. In contrast, deuterium levels extracted from the bones of swans, swimming peacefully in lakes and closer to ambient levels of oceanic water, which is ~150-160 ppm.
No biochemical background of this phenomenon was found, as there is no food source of high deuterium in the water or amino acid supplies in the seals' environment to explain it. Laboratory procedures were unable to reproduce the phenomenon, i.e. they were unable to increase the deuterium content of (hydroxy)proline in collagen above the deuterium content provided in the experimental environment. Studies of peregrine falcon bones have also found high levels of deuterium in proline, ~200 ppm, and these birds are known to speed up to 320 km/h in a hunting stoop and then strike their prey while slowing down suddenly!
Proline and hydroxyproline are the most important for the strength of the connective tissue of tendons, muscle ligaments, joint capsules and the skin that protects them. This is due to their unique ring structure. At the same time, they are also responsible for maintaining the elasticity of these organs. Strength, durability and load-bearing capacity of the connective and supporting tissues are determined by deuterium deposition to support function. These amino acids’ deuterium load determines the strength required for the survival, size and/or habits of each species, while also providing flexibility to the animal bones and supporting elements as clarified in this paper (1).
The article provides a good opportunity to complement the sub-molecular medical deutenomics research and educational materials of the Vrije University and Medical Centre (AUMC) in Amsterdam (2). The Hungarian background to all the above is that Professor Zubarev has already presented a proteomics and deutenomics talk at the 2019 deuterium depletion scientific meeting organized by Dr. Gábor Somlyai and HYD in Budapest, which I chaired, raising similar interesting questions. The above article is a continuation of these presentations (3, 4). At the same meeting, I also presented on the (metabolic) deuterium saturation of intracellular water via metabolism (5). My talk was chaired by none other than Professor Zubarev, who honored us all (6)!
Indeed, in mammalian cells, there are anaplerotic reactions specialized in deuterium "harvesting", related to reductive carboxylation, which is associated with (alpha)ketoglutarate/glutamate/ornithine metabolism in mitochondria. These reactions rely heavily on the sequestration of deuterium from nutrients (7), as reported on the cover of Metabolomics (Springer-Nature) (8). Ketoglutarate, glutamate and ornithine are substrate materials for the synthesis of proline and hydroxyproline, which are found in collagen.
The Karolinska Institutet also issued an excellent press release on the article. It highlights the unanswered questions, how the strength and durability of muscle, its connective tissue elements and the skeleton that supports them, depend structurally on the high enrichment of collagen (hydroxy)proline constituents with deuterium, which the authors cannot explain. All these form a phenotype-defining anatomical, biochemical and physiological unit with biologically astonishing performance (9).
Job 40 already raised the above issues thousands of years ago (King James Bible):
15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
According to the above the Karolinska Institute research faculty ran into questions posed by the Creator to Job thousands of years ago, but since Job was not a biochemist, he elegantly avoided answering them.
It is up to us, the deutenomics experts who examine the Scriptures with faith and respect, and through the lens of science, to reconsider and possibly answer the above questions over time!