There are many out there that refuse to accept that the same science which is used to convict criminals can also be used to demonstrate conclusively that humans evolved from common ancestors with chimpanzees, which evolved from common ancestors with great apes, etc. Very strange, since lay people are so trusting of the former. I’m going to write here about a story about one gene, out of the many thousands of similar stories in our genome, the NANOG gene. For those that are interested in molecular studies of evolution, with particular reference to human evolution, I strongly recommend Daniel Fairbanks Relics of Eden. This is a great primer for how molecular biology is applied to the problem of evolution. The following information is contained within Chapter 5 and Appendix 1 of Relics of Eden.
What is NANOG?
NANOG is a homeobox gene which encodes a transcription factor critical in development. In other words, it is a regulatory gene. The products of this gene allow cultured stem cells to divide indefinitely without differentiation (to become specialized cell types). It becomes activated shortly after conception.