9.1 A Brief History and Overview
9.2 The Bio-Sciences Report (c. 2180)
9.3 The Bio-Weapons Report (c. 2185)

>> Click on any image to open supplemental material.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

>> Entry 9.1

A Brief History and Overview

The DNA Reflex (originally termed: "Invasive DNA Assimilation and Modification Reflexive Behavior") was a notion presented by the Weyland-Yutani Biological-Sciences Division in 2180 as a means to explain the Alien's ability to acquire gross anatomical traits from a host through modifications of that host's DNA. This theory - even in light of the events of Fiorina 161 - was initially regarded by the scientific communities, as "ridiculous" and "idealistic" due to the fact that it relied heavily on theoretical genetics. It did, however catch the attention of Colonel Jason C. Abbot, the head of Weyaland-Yutani's Biological-Weapons Division at that time. Despite the public's rejection of the theory, Colonel Abbot pressed several teams of Bio-Weapon engineers to begin further study into the plausibility and possibility of Internecivus Raptus employing what had unofficially become known as the DNA Reflex. Given a three-year timetable Abbot's teams worked under tight security to continue what the Bio-Sciences Division had started. As research continued it became increasingly apparent that what the Bio-Sciences Division had tapped into was not only plausible and possible, but the implications of the Alien's adaptation were both far reaching and terrifying.

In 2183 a Classified Report entitled "The DNA Reflex" was issued - it outlined the three year research of Abbot's teams. Little is known of what happened to the report following its release, but it is known that Colonel Abbot met with Brigadier General James L. Carson, Brigadier General Shelly P. Abraham, and Major General Wendy A. Martinez 24 hours following its release. 48 hours after this meeting a second Clean-Up and Examination crew was dispatched to Fiorina 161, and a Survey team was assembled and sent to LV-426 - both teams consisted of several exobiologists, archeologists, geneticists (specializing in pathogens), and a compliment of USCA Corp. of Engineers.

In 2185 the newly promoted Brigadier General Abbot released an updated form of "The DNA Reflex" to The Bio-Sciences Division with one additional copy going to the head of Weyalnd-Yutani's Special Projects Division - Rachel Cross. Unaware of the previous report, it was believed by the scientific community that this was the first release of this material - it was hailed as a triumph in further understanding I. raptus, and quickly became the excepted theory. We know now that what General Abbot released was a modified version of the original report form 2183. Material deemed "Sensitive" as well as additional findings from Fiorina 161 and LV-426 were not included, or only mildly incorporated so as to keep the reports up-to-date. It is believed that the complete version of "The DNA Reflex" from 2185, was deemed "Classified" by General Abbot, and subsequently withheld from the public. As a credit to Abbot's teams and the follow-up missions to Fiorina 161 and LV-426 it is further believed that it was Abbot's classified documentation that spurred Dr. Wren's research nearly 200 years later.

Over the following years, as Dr. Wren studied the recovered samples of blood and tissue from Fiorina 161, what was found was that the Alien embryo is not only a member of the deadly symbiosis with its host, but the host's genetic coding undergoes a process such that it is almost completely re-written. It is still not fully understood how such a drastic change can occur within an extremely short span of time (presumed to be 4 to 6 hours). It is also still not clear what percentage of the Alien's genetic code is infused into the host's. It has been presumed that Dr. Wren was aware of this, to some degree, and had documentation to accompany his findings - however, these records were either lost in the Auriga's destruction, or are classified by the United Systems Military. What was available of Dr. Wren's work showed that the genetic modifications not only force the host organism to create the Alien embryo much in the way it would a cancer, but enhance aspects such as the host's immune system.

In the medical records obtained from Fiorina 161 following Lieutenant Ripley's arrival: Lieutenant Ripley had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Hibernation Disorder - a short-term illness caused by a sudden and improper awakening from hyper-sleep. The symptoms range from coma to disorientation accompanied by headaches, soar throat, cough, and/or nausea and vomiting - depending on the severity of the case. The symptoms of this disorder can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days - again, depending on the severity of the case. Lieutenant Ripley was diagnosed with slight disorientation, soar throat, cough, nausea, and minor headaches. She was also diagnosed with minor abrasions and lacerations, and the subcutaneous rupture of blood vessels throughout the cornea of the left eye. Within a matter of 8 hours all recorded symptoms - with the exception of a few lacerations - had completely healed. However, since there was even less understanding of the Alien and its capabilities at that time the healing of Lieutenant Ripley's wounds and symptoms was not associated with the presence of an I. raptus embryo.

The following entries include material from the report issued by Weyland-Yutani Bio-Sciences Division in 2180, as well as the public report released by Abbot's teams in 2185. Both are represented to better display the differences in approach between the two divisions, and how we achieved the theories we now have and use.

>> End of entry

Return to Top

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

>> Entry 9.2

The Bio-Sciences Report (c. 2180)

The incorporation of theoretical genetics was only part of what kept the Bio-Sciences Division's approach from being accepted. The other part was that their approach looked to the Alien embryo as being an extension, or continuation of the host body - much in the way any internal organ or body part is. This stemmed from a view that the first stage of I. raptus (the Facehugger) was treating the host organism as an in vitro womb, as opposed to a host. This is rather ironic considering the fact that they compared the incorporation of I. raptus DNA to being like a virus.

Excerpt from "Invasive DNA Assimilation and Modification Reflexive Behavior," Submitted by Weyland-Yutani Biological Sciences Division, 18.12.2180:

"The process by which [Internecivus Raptus] is able to successfully alter its host's DNA so as to create a more suitable host environment (and presumably to create an offspring that is better suited to adapt and prey upon a specific organism and its environment) is still under a certain degree of speculation. The lack of data received from Fiorina 161 and LV-426 has made the process of determining how the altering of a host's genetic code is done a difficult task. It is proposed that the process is done in a manner analogous to a virus.

In this process it is believed that I. raptus genetic material "invades" a host's DNA, which alters gene expression and activation. As this process occurs new genes are created, forcing the cells to function and exist in a manner that is more suitable to the development of an I. raptus embryo. It is also proposed that as this forced change occurs new proteins and amino acids are produced - creating a host environment that is drastically different than the original (even if only on the cellular/sub-cellular level).

The means by which I. raptus is able to invade a host's DNA is not fully known, but it is proposed that this is done via the introduction and utilization of a DNA polymerase-like enzyme. In its common state a DNA polymerase is an enzyme that catalyzes the replication and repair of existing DNA in an organism by using a single stranded DNA as a template. The simple act of introducing such an enzyme into a host organism would not result in the eventual restructuring of the DNA in a manner that would enable an I. raptus embryo to survive and develop. Nor would it cause the modifications to a host organism's DNA resulting in the anatomical abilities/modifications that were recorded in the Fiorina 161 medical reports of Lieutenant Ripley following her recovery. For such a DNA polymerase to create the type of genetic restructuring that is apparent in the initial stages of the I. raptus life cycle the enzyme would need to contain both Alien and host coding - in order for this to happen some kind of genetic splicing would need to take place. Commonly, for DNA recombination to occur a minimum of 2 enzymes are required: a Restriction Enzyme, which is responsible for cutting the DNA at specific nucleotide sequences, and a DNA Ligase for "stitching" the newly inserted DNA material into the original host material. Of course, in order for this to work the inserted genetic material needs to be compatible and compliment the existing DNA - if it's not then serious restructuring of the host and foreign DNA needs to occur. It's thought that the Alien's efficiency in existence may be traceable all the way down to its genetic base. By this it's believed that even with the creature's complex physiology it may employ a relatively simple yet efficient genetic structure. One that is highly adaptable/modifiable to the point of being almost a generic genetic template that can accept nearly any DNA chain that it is presented with.

The DNA polymerase-like enzyme that I. raptus would introduce into a host system has been referred to as a "Hyper-Aggressive Enzyme." The working model for this enzyme revolves around the notion that it's an incomplete structure that not only replicates DNA strands upon contact, but also splices and restructures as well. The idea is based on the thought that the process a DNA polymerase undergoes to replicate existing DNA is only a step away from DNA Recombination under the correct circumstances: i.e. the process of DNA replication is basically a form of DNA splicing and combination - in and of itself - among existing genetic elements. The incorporation of an outside genetic element is theoretically only another step away. If I. raptus is able to employ such a genetic feat this would mean that is has mastered something that current human science has yet to control. For nearly 200 years geneticists have struggled with the possibility of creating such an enzyme in a controlled laboratory so as to aid in new directions of DNA recombination for medicinal purposes.

The incomplete aspect of the enzyme is what would make it aggressive: It has been speculated that one of the means by which the Alien is able to incorporate its own DNA into a host system is through requiring specific proteins. Enzymes are, by nature, an arrangement of complex proteins. The Hyper-Aggressive Enzyme may actively seek out various proteins from a host system in order to initiate DNA restructuring, and its own completion. It is believed that this enzyme is inert and otherwise inactive in its "natural" state, but once introduced into an environment that contains various proteins it moves from an inert state to an active state. To say that it actively seeks out these proteins may not be an accurate description: It may be attracted to such proteins and otherwise aggressively incorporate them into its own structure. This pattern would follow that of various viruses once they are introduced to a host system. Once the hyper-aggressive enzyme has acquired the necessary proteins from the host the catalyst can begin, and the enzyme is able to begin DNA restructuring and replication - all the while incorporating Alien and host proteins. To aid in a successful fusing of genetic material. As new DNA is modified, and effectively re-written, the expression of new proteins occurs, along with the creation of additional Hyper-Aggressive Enzymes. Given the speed at which I. raptus is able to develop it is believed that the spread of this enzyme through a host system is extremely pervasive.

Of course, this is strictly theoretical, and the mere acquisition of host proteins would not be enough to initiate, or facilitate the type of genetic restructuring that apparently goes on within a host system so as to create an I. raptus embryo. The means by which a conceivably incompatible genetic structure could be grafted, or spliced into a host system is not fully understood. There still remains the issue that in order for recombinant DNA to function properly the combined pieces must have complimentary ends and elements that readily combine with each other. Given the physiology of the Alien it does not seem likely that it's DNA would compliment a wide array of hosts. Thus, it is proposed that the Alien incorporates a simple - or generic - genetic structure that is easily compatible, or modifiable, with varying host organisms."

>> End of entry

Return to Top

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

>> Entry 9.3

The Bio-Weapons Report (c. 2185)

Colonel Abbot immediately saw a potential in the above material. Understanding why it was being summarily dismissed by the scientific community he decided to follow through with what the Bio-Sciences Division had not done in their haste to release their reports to the public: explore other known means of genetic modification to find a link as to how I. raptus is able to achieve the DNA Reflex. Of course some aspects of theory had to be employed, but his teams focused on processes that were known to exist.

Towards the end of the tree years that Abbot's teams strove to find a viable answer to DNA modification a different approach was employed. As opposed to viewing the Alien embryo as an extension of the host organism it was seen as a mutation - a malignant growth as a direct result of a terminal illness brought on by genetic modification. Once this view was considered theories began to arise that would not only become an excepted belief, but presumably catch the attention of the Dr. Wren.

Excerpt from "DNA Reflex," Submitted by Weyland-Yutani Biological-Weapons Division, 06.08.2185:

"The simple and efficient elegance of [Internecivus Raptus] is most likely carried through all aspects of its existence - even down to the creation of an embryo within a host organism. There are a great many unknown factors, but extensive research has brought us to a point that we are confident in the findings and their ability to be definitively applied to I. raptus.

The creation of an embryo within a host organism appears to be the direct result of a deliberate and controlled terminal illness of an extremely virulent nature. In order for I. raptus to utilize a wide array of organisms - with a wide array of biological needs and factors - as host material the simplest, and most logical, course is the introduction of a viral agent. Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites. As such they can only reproduce by invading and taking over other cells because they lack the basic cellular machinery for self-reproduction. They are comprised of a protein-based capsid encasing the viral genes and genetic material. Viruses lie somewhere between living and non-living material. They can reproduce and show inheritance, but are reliant on the complex enzymes of their hosts, and in many ways can be treated like ordinary molecules (example: they can be crystallized). Whether or not they can be classified as "alive" - they are obligate parasites, and have no form that can reproduce independent of their host. Like most parasites they have a specific host range, sometimes specific to one species (or even limited cell types within a given species) and sometimes more general. Based on the recorded instances involving I. raptus activity it is believed that the specific host range for this virus is that of being "general" with a possible limiting factor requiring the host to be a eukaryote - specifically of a body mass of 25 kilograms or greater (It is believed that any organism smaller than this may result in the premature termination of the host organism and/or the developing embryo).

It is not uncommon viral behavior to alter host DNA, or host RNA as well as DNA, in order to self-replicate. However, this type of behavior dos not usually create mutations that result in the formation of malignant growths - such activity is generally the result of transposons when inserted into host DNA.

Transposons are naturally occurring sequences of DNA that have the ability relocate to different positions within the genome of a single cell. In this process they can cause mutations and change the amount of DNA in the genome. In order for a transposon to insert itself into a DNA sequence it requires the enzyme transposase, which is quite often encoded by the transposon itself. The ends of the transposon sequence consist of inverted repeats, which are identical sequences reading in opposite directions. The transposase binds to both the inverted repeats of the transposon and the target site on the genome. This target site is cut - leaving the appropriate sticky ends - and the transposon is integrated and ligated into the target site. Any gaps that occur are automatically filled in, resulting in direct repeats within the now restructured DNA sequence.

By their very nature transposons are mutagens, and their incorporation into host DNA are known to cause: altered protein expression in modified DNA sequences which results in the creation of new and/or mutated genes; specific genes to stop functioning; improper gap re-sequencing once relocated to a new position; and the occurrence of multiple copies of the same sequence can hinder precise chromosomal pairing during mitosis, resulting in unequal crossovers (one of the primary causes of chromosome duplication). Generally, transposons are considered to be parasites that live within the genome of cellular organisms. In this way, they are similar to viruses. Viruses and transposons also share features in their genome structure and biochemical abilities, which have lead to a long-standing speculation that they share a common ancestor.

It is there for proposed that the DNA sequence at the center of the virus, as introduced into a host organism via Stage I. raptus, consists largely of transposons, which are designed specifically to code for the creation of a very specific mutation. This mutation causes the malignant embryonic growth of a Stage 2 I. raptus. It is also proposed that this growth begins as a small dysplasia in the mediastinum (Dysplasia is defined as an abnormal form of excessive cell proliferation characterized by loss of normal tissue arrangement and cell structure. Often such cells revert back to normal behavior, but occasionally, they gradually become malignant). As the cells within the dysplasia begin to restructure and move towards becoming malignant two processes occur: the cells begin to undergo the process of cellular specialization and further mitosis; and the forming mass also begins to acquire fatty tissue from the surrounding area. Thus, creating the initial stage of development in an I. raptus embryo."

The presentation of this theory resulted in an increased interest in the Alien, as well as it's genetic abilities. Even after this theory became the excepted process there still remained the unanswered question as to how the Alien is able to retain so much of it's genetic relatedness to other members of the species through the utilization of transposons. In theory this type of procreation would only supply the alien with moderate amounts of I. raptus genetic material. Yet regardless of the generation the Alien always remains intrinsically "Alien," which may indicate that I. raptus employs a surprisingly simple genetic structure enabling vast amounts of coding for its genotype to be held with in small potions of DNA.

>> End of entry

Return to Top

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

< Next Essay >

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Home | Site News | | About the Essays | Egg | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Queen | Newborn |
Blood | Exoskeleton | DNA Reflex
| Hive | | Links | Contact | Credits & Legal