Genetics & Molecular Biology

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock called the circadian clock.

The circadian clock is influenced by exposure to light and dictates the wake-sleep cycle. At the cellular level, the clock is controlled by a complex network of genes and proteins that switch each other on and off based on cues from their environment and most genes involved in the regulation of the circadian clock have been characterized, but a key component was missing in mammals. 

In a new study, a team performed a genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis for genes that were the target of BMAL1, a core clock component that binds to many other clock genes, regulating their transcription. 


Cardiovascular disease often causes the heart to work harder than usual, a condition that triggers the chronic buildup of cardiac pressure and the onset of heart failure.
A genetic study of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Bulgarian mountain regions showed they originated in Carpathia. So how did they get to Bulgaria? It wasn't natural dispersal. 

Bulgarian and Romanian NGOs, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and scientists of the Senckenberg Conservation Genetics Section in Frankfurt have found that a legend was probably true - the legend being that the former leader of the Romanian Communist Party, Nicolae Ceausescu, flew the bears to Bulgaria.
Some long non-coding RNAs can give rise to small proteins that have biological functions, according to a recent study that describes how researchers have used ribosome profiling to identify several hundred long non-coding RNAs that may give rise to small peptides.

“The gift that keeps on taking” someone called it. It starts with a little twitching that you think it will go away, but instead grows and soon your limbs shake, your balance and coordination lost. Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects almost 10 million people worldwide, but many more still undiagnosed until their symptoms emerge often years into the disease. It is also incurable.

The International Peanut Genome Initiative, a multinational group crop geneticists who have been working in tandem for the last several years, have successfully sequenced the genome of 
Arachis hypogaea
 - the peanut. 

Arachis hypogaea and also called groundnut and, of course, peanut, is important both commercially and nutritionally. While the oil- and protein-rich legume is seen as a cash crop in the developed world, it remains a valuable sustenance crop in developing nations. The new peanut genome sequence is available to researchers and plant breeders across the globe to aid in the breeding of more productive and more resilient peanut varieties. 


A new research report explains why people with a rare balding condition called "atrichia with papular lesions" lose their hair and it identifies a strategy for reversing this hair loss.

Specifically the report shows for the first time that the "human hairless gene" imparts an essential role in hair biology by regulating a subset of other hair genes. This newly discovered molecular function likely explains why mutations in the hairless gene contribute to the pathogenesis of atrichia with papular lesions.

In addition, this gene also has also been shown to function as a tumor suppressor gene in the skin, raising hope for developing new approaches in the treatment of skin disorders and/or some cancers.


I remember in junior high I did an experiment where I goofed around with pH paper and my lab partner and I neutralized an acidic solution

I've been feeling a sense of deja vu lately.

You might have heard the bombshell of a story that came out almost exactly two months ago: researchers reported simply and quickly making super powerful stem cells (called "totipotent" or "pluripotent") from ordinary blood cells via a simple cellular dunk in a weak acid bath.

What the heck?

DNA is the molecule that encodes the genetic instructions enabling a cell to produce the thousands of proteins it typically needs. The linear sequence of the A, T, C, and G bases in what is called coding DNA determines the particular protein that a short segment of DNA, known as a gene, will encode.

In many organisms, there is much more DNA in a cell than is needed to code for all the necessary proteins. This non-coding DNA was often referred to as "junk" DNA because it seemed unnecessary. But in retrospect, we did not yet understand the function of these seemingly unnecessary DNA sequences.


Researchers have discovered a new way of improving the longevity of plant seeds using genetic engineering. 

The key is over-expression of the ATHB25 gene. This gene encodes a protein that regulates gene expression, producing a new mutant that gives the seed new properties. Researchers have proven that this mutant has more gibberellin -the hormone that promotes plant growth-, which means the seed coat is reinforced as well.

This mechanism is new, as tolerance to stresses such as aging has always been associated with another hormone, abscisic acid, which regulates defenses based on proteins and small protective molecules, instead of producing the growth of structures like gibberellin does.