The Zip Code System
The structure of the cell
A cell, with all its organelles that
act in perfect harmony and order within it, has amazing
characteristics. Professors at the Swedish Karolinska
Institute said that the organization of a cell can be
compared to that of a big city such as New York.51
When we investigate
proteins, which are the building blocks of a cell, we
discover some important facts: Every cell contains over
a billion or so protein molecules consisting of thousands
of different kinds.52 In order
to get an idea of this huge sum, imagine this example:
at the rate of one per second, in order to count a billion
proteins, it would take 32 years of continuous and accurate
counting. If you take into account your unavoidable
need to eat and sleep, your life would probably not
be long enough to count the proteins in a single one
of your cells. There are about seven billion people
in the world, and each person has about 100 trillion
cells in his body. Therefore, the number of protein
molecules that exist in the world is too great for us
to count. Moreover, these proteins are constantly being
renewed in every individual; about once every month
they disintegrate into the amino acids of which they
are composed and are again resynthesized according to
the needs of the cells.53 They
are reconstituted as a result of the complex operations
described by the term "protein synthesis." Some of them
are composed as enzymes and are present in nearly every
stage of all the complex reactions in the cell; some
of them form messenger hormones; some assume special
duties in the organization of vital functions, such
as carrying oxygen to the blood, stimulating the cells
to action and adjusting the level of sugar in the body.
The traffic within cells is much denser than traffic
created by human beings. Despite this, in a cell
you will never find a traffic jam like the one
pictured above. That is because a cell is a perfectly
What we want to concentrate on here is the flow of
protein traffic that happens when newly produced proteins
change their place in the cell. Because some of these
proteins begin to be used immediately within the cell,
they must be carried to the place where they are to
be used; others are sent to a protein storage area of
the cell for later usage. Proteins that will be used
outside are removed from the cell under the supervision
of the cell membrane. In the meantime, proteins that
enter the cell from outside, again under the supervision
of the membrane, form an important part of this dense
protein traffic. In short, within the tiny parameters
of a cell there is an incredible amount of activity.
Even rush hour traffic in a large city where millions
of people live is really at a standstill compared to
the dynamism in a cell. Moreover, this dense activity
is carried on by our proteins that are about one millionth
of a millimeter in size, that inhabit our cells that
are one hundredth of a millimeter in size. It is extraordinary
that billions of tiny units of matter fit into a space
too small to be seen by the naked eye, and that each
one of them is made to run back and forth with great
order and harmony to perform their important functions.
It is necessary for the continuance of life that this
cell traffic flows perfectly. Every protein, either
those produced by the factory called a "ribosome" or
those that are introduced from other cells have a special
place where they will be used. The proteins needed by
an organelle, for instance mitochondrion, are different
from others. If we consider the organization of a large
city, this situation can be compared to the fact that
the various production facilities in a city have different
After protein is produced, dense traffic continues
within the cell. Protein is either released from
the cell by special transporters, carried to the
place in the body where it will be used, or left
in the golgi apparatus to be stored and packed
until it is needed. This is the reason for the
constant protein traffic within the cell.
The fact that, within a cell one hundredth of a millimeter
in size, a billion proteins are moving at every moment,
brings these questions to mind: How do the proteins
produced know where they must go? How do they reach
the organelles where they are to be used or the target
cells outside the cells where they were synthesized
without losing their way? How do they come out from
inside the membrane that is composed of a fat layer
tightly surrounding the organelles? How does this surprisingly
dense cell traffic function without an accident?
Let us consider the matter again for a moment substituting
a newly born human being for a newly produced protein.
Let us give some written and spoken advice to a new
baby born in an imaginary city with a billion inhabitants
as to where it can find food and clothing, how it can
find what it needs, and where it can find a job. Certainly
a baby does not know the environment in which it was
born; it would not be possible for it to find by itself
any place in such a remarkably crowded city. In order
for it to find its way without getting lost, it would
be necessary for this person to spend years in this
city, getting to know it. In order for a person to achieve
such a thing he would need a long time; it is certainly
surprising, then, that a protein without intelligence
or consciousness can do this perfectly.
The secret of how proteins can overcome the obstacles
they encounter and find the right address is hidden
in the expert design of the cells. Latest research in
the science of cells has revealed some wonderful mechanisms
in the micro-world of cells.
How is Protein Traffic Within Cells
In order for a letter to reach the right address,
it must have a clear address and zip code written
on it. In a similar way, every newly produced
protein has a special zip code chain that shows
it where it will go.
Everyone knows that a zip code system
is designed to increase the efficiency of communication
by getting a letter to the correct address as quickly
as possible and with the fewest errors. The really interesting
thing is that research has shown that a similar mechanism
exists within cells.54 It is known
that proteins are synthesized by the planned union of
hundreds of amino acids. A special section of between
10 and 30 amino acids form a kind of chain that forms
the zip code of the protein. In other words, the zip
code written on the envelope is composed of numbers
and letters, while the zip code in a protein is composed
of amino acids. This code is located on one of the ends
of the protein or inside it. As a result, every new
protein that is synthesized receives instructions as
to where it will go inside the cell and how it will
go there. Now, let us examine under a highly advanced
microscope the journey of a protein within a cell.
When we look at how a newly synthesized protein, goes
to its proper place-for example, endoplasmic reticulum-we
see the following: First, the zip code is read by a
particle of a molecule called SRP. SRP (Signal Recognition
Particle) is a structure especially designed to read
the zip code and to help the protein find the channels
through which it must pass. It interprets the code in
the protein, binds to it and shows it the way like a
real guide. Then, the SRP and the protein lock into
a protein passage channel and a receptor on the membrane
of the endoplasmic reticulum specially designed for
them. When the receptor is stimulated in this way, the
channel on the membrane is opened. At this stage, the
SRP separates from the receptor. All these operations
occur with perfect timing and harmony.
Some elements in a cell are illustrated in this
diagram that shows how proteins are directed by
the cell's zip code system. (Chloroplast is an
element found only in plant cells.) On every newly
synthesized protein there is built in a special
zip code area formed by a chain of amino acids.
This chain normally occurs on the end of a protein
and guides the protein to its target within the
At this point, the protein encounters a problem. It
is known that proteins are formed when the amino acid
chain bends and contorts into a three-dimensional shape.
In this situation, it is impossible for protein molecules
to pass from the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum
because the passage channel on its membrane is only
0.000000002 meter in diameter. But here we see the existence
of a perfect previously designed plan because this problem
has already been solved in the production stage. The
ribosome that produces the protein produces it in the
shape of an uncontorted chain. The structure of this
chain makes it possible for the protein to pass through
the channel. After the passage is complete, the channel
is closed until another passage occurs. The work of
the code section in the protein that enters the endoplasmic
reticulum comes to an end. For this reason, this section
is separated from the protein by particular enzymes;
afterwards, the protein folds and takes on its final
three dimensional appearance. This situation is like
what happens after the letter has reached its destination;
the function of the zip code written on the envelope
comes to an end. How these enzymes can act consciously
and know which of the hundreds, sometimes thousands
of amino acids on the protein they will tear off is
another wonder. If they tear off any one of the amino
acids that make up the protein, other than those that
compose the code, the protein may become useless. As
we see, at every stage many particles act with consciousness
and responsibility. It is a plain fact that this conscious
sense of responsibility cannot belong to tiny molecules.
The problem of where newly produced proteins will
go and how they will go has been solved by a zip
code system similar to that used by humans.
The fact is that the cooperation among the molecules
that have a role in these complex functions-proteins,
SRP, protein zip codes, ribosomes, receptors, protein
channels, enzymes, plasma membranes and other complex
functions not touched on here-is flawless. The zip code
system in the cell is by itself a great proof of creation.
This system that has been used for forty years by human
beings has been operating in the trillions of cells
in the depths of the bodies of the millions of individuals
since the creation of the Prophet Adam (peace be upon
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute
is known for its research in the field of cellular communication.
The president of the Institute, P.W. Choppin, stated
that the discovery of the code system in cells is one
of the most important discoveries in modern biology.
"GŁnter revealed that each protein has its own 'molecular
bar code,' which the cell reads and then guides the
protein to the correct location." Choppin has said.55
The bar code system is not something unfamiliar; we
encounter its use frequently in our day-to-day lives.
On the back cover of this book you will find an example.
Nearly everything in your refrigerator or kitchen cupboards
has a bar code on it. In many sectors it is indispensable.
This system, which is composed of side-by-side parallel
vertical lines, relies on a laser scanner for its interpretation.
The laser scanner relays information to a computer and
facilitates the performance of a few complicated functions.
In brief, the bar code system is a method designed and
developed to make our lives easier.
Scientists say that the code in a protein serves
as a molecular bar code.
There is no doubt that the bar code has been developed
as a result of the special programming and design of
the computer and the scanner. This system relies on
complex devices, and the harmonious operation of these
devices depends on an engineering plan. No one with
intelligence and common sense would think otherwise.
This being the case, the ideas of those who try to explain
such remarkably complex structures as the zip code in
the cells (or the bar code system) in terms of chance,
display a serious lack of understanding. In the Qur'an,
the question is asked, "Or were they created
out of nothing, or are they the creators?"
(Qur'an, 52: 35), and the impossibility of this is emphasized.
The probability that one single protein could be formed
by itself (or by chance) is zero, not to mention the
billion proteins in one cell. Moreover, because it is
impossible that these proteins were formed by chance,
it is much more impossible that the coordination, cooperation
(and harmony) among them come to be, by chance, in such
a way as to enable a body to stay alive for years.
There is no doubt that everything, from atoms to molecules,
proteins to cells, has been created by the eternal compassion
of God and given to our service. Therefore, it is our
duty to think deeply about our Lord's boundless mercy
and give thanks to God.
51 The Nobel
Foundation, "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1999, Introduction," 1999, http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1999/illpres/intro.html
52 Gunter Blobel, "Intracellular Protein Traffic,"
53 Gunter Blobel, "Intracellular Protein Traffic,"
54 The Nobel Foundation, "Press Release: The 1999
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine," 1999, http://
55 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, "Gunter Blobel
Wins 1999 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine,"