Genetics & Molecular Biology

Some flavorings used in electronic cigarette liquid may alter important cellular functions in lung tissue, according to a presentation at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

The changes in cell viability, cell proliferation, and calcium signaling are flavor-dependent so coupling these results with chemicals identified in each flavor could prove useful in identifying flavors or chemical constituents that might produce adverse effects in users.


A new study suggests that bread from certain wheat varieties have differentiated sensory properties and that could mean customized breeding for more personalized food in the future.

A research group at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) has developed the sensory profile of five different wheat varieties -three bread wheat (Triticum aestivum ssp. vulgare L.) and two spelt wheat (T. aestivum ssp. spelta) and has found significant differences among them. 

Transposable elements are DNA sequences that are capable of changing their genome position by cut and paste or copy and paste through the enzyme transposase.

This ability can be harmful for hosts if transposable elements destroy functioning genes, but it can also bring advantages. From an evolutionary point of view, transposable elements diversify the genome and open up chances for adaptation.


Cellular structures called microtubules are tagged with a variety of chemical markers that can influence cell functions and the pattern of these markers makes up the "tubulin code". One of the main writers of this code is tubulin tyrosine ligase-7 (TTLL7), according to a new paper. 


Researchers have discovered a gene, which they have named ICARUS1,  that enables plants to regulate their growth in different temperatures, and it could lead to new ways of optimizing plant growth in different climates.


Photosynthesis, the process by which plants utilize the sun's energy to create their own, leaves behind a unique calling card in the form of a chemical signature that is spelled out with stable oxygen isotopes.

Photosynthesis by microscopic plants forms the base of the oceanic food chain, but it is difficult to measure how productive these plants are in natural settings. This research will make it easier to do so.

Most oxygen atoms contain eight protons and eight neutrons and are represented by the symbol O-16. More than 99.9 percent of Earth's oxygen is O-16, but two heavier oxygen isotopes exist in trace amounts: O-17, with one extra neutron, and O-18, with two.


Mutations in two genes cause a fatal lung scarring disease known as familial pulmonary fibrosis and can cause excessive shortening of the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres. Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from deteriorating. Think of them like the plastic ends of shoelaces, which protect shoelaces from fraying. 


One of developmental biology's biggest mysteries is ontogeny and the signals that transform masses of undifferentiated cells into tremendously complex organisms. 

A new paper suggests that it all begins with a single "master" growth factor receptor,  nuclear Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 (nFGFR1), that regulates the entire genome.  The research using mouse embryonic stem cells hopes to challenge the supposition that specific types of growth factors only functioned at a cell's surface and that growth factors function from within the nucleus.

When the chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin or oxaliplatin hit cancer cells, they damage DNA so that the cells can't replicate but those cells have ways to repair the DNA and so the cancer drugs aren't as effective as they could be.

When DNA is damaged, cells use many enzymes to cut the strand of DNA and excise the damaged fragment. Then, other enzymes repair the original DNA so that the cells can function properly. Previously, Sancar's lab used purified enzymes to discover how this process happens in DNA damaged by UV irradiation and by chemotherapeutic drugs such as cisplatin and oxaliplatin.


"Organoids", a futuristic-sounding term for three-dimensional cultures derived from tumors of cancer patients, closely replicate key properties of the original tumors - so close that these "organoid" cultures could be used for large-scale drug screens for the detection of genetic changes associated with drug sensitivity and pave the way for personalized treatment approaches.