Genetics & Molecular Biology

A study has identified a protein that appears to play a key role in protecting people infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis — the bacterium that causes tuberculosis — from developing the active form of the disease. The protein, interleukin-32, was discovered to be one biomarker of adequate host defense against TB.


The recently published genome of Brassica napus — commonly known as canola — paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry. 


A team of researchers  is a step closer to solving the mystery of how lizards regenerate their tails. They have found the genetic "recipe", which involves genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

The scientists used molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back. 


Researchers trying to get new information about the metabolism of plants can switch off individual genes and study the resulting changes but researchers in a new study adopted a different approach.

 Erich Kombrink from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and Markus Kaiser from the University of Duisburg-Essen have identified small molecules that block specific components of the metabolic process like brake pads and prevent the downstream reactions. In their search for these molecules, they used a biological selection process involving intact plants, a technique borrowed from corporate drug research.


Men and women differ in plenty of ways,and scientists have long known that genetic differences buried deep within our DNA underlie these distinctions but past research has primarily focused on understanding how the genes that encode proteins act as sex determinants. In a new Genetics paper, scientists show that a subset of very small genes encoding short RNA molecules -
miRNAs
- also play a key role in differentiating male and female tissues in the fruit fly. 

A miRNA is a short segment of RNA that fine-tunes the activation of one or several protein-coding genes. miRNAs are able to silence the genes they target and, in doing so, orchestrate complex genetic programs that are the basis of development.


There's evidence that a child's future health is influenced by more than just their parents' genetic material and can be impacted by environmental factors, but what is being done with that is something of a concern.


A new study identifies a novel gene, Inpp4b, that controls nerve conduction velocity. Investigators report that even minor reductions in conduction velocity may aggravate disease in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and in mice bred for the MS-like condition experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).


An enzyme called 12-LO promotes obesity-induced oxidative stress in the pancreatic cells and that has been linked to diabetes (and pre-diabetes, if you prefer made-up conditions mainstream science wishes studies would stop claiming to be about).

12-LO's enzymatic action is the last step in the production of certain small molecules that harm the cell, according to a team from Indiana University School of Medicine. The findings will enable the development of drugs that can interfere with this enzyme, preventing or even reversing diabetes.  


The cytoplasm of mammalian cells is a viscous fluid, with organelles and proteins jiggling against one another and drifting at random.

Yet a new biophysical study finds that those drifting objects are subject to a very different type of environment than what we have thought.

The cytoplasm is actually an elastic gel, it turns out, so it puts up some resistance to simple diffusion. But energetic processes elsewhere in the cell—in the cytoskeleton, especially—create random but powerful waves in the cytoplasm, pushing on proteins and organelles alike. Like flotsam and jetsam buffeted by the wakes of passing ships, suspended particles scatter much more quickly and widely than they would in a calm sea.


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are adult stem cells isolated from blood or bone marrow that can renew themselves and differentiate into a variety of specialized cells. They give rise to all other blood cell types but their development has long remained a mystery.

In a new paper, researchers elaborate upon a crucial signaling pathway and the role of key proteins, which may help clear the way to generate HSCs from human pluripotent precursors, similar to advances with other kinds of tissue stem cells.