Genetics & Molecular Biology

Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic pain and inflammation in joints, such as those in the hands and feet, as well as knees and hips. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can destroy the cartilage that lubricates and cushions the joints. In essence, it 'remodels' bones, leading to disfigurement, pain and reduced mobility.

Cartilage was previously thought to be a victim of an overzealous immune system but a new paper finds it has an active role in rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Tommy Liu, Professor Ian Wicks, Dr Kate Lawler, Dr Ben Croker and colleagues from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute made the discovery while investigating the role of the protein SOCS3 in controlling inflammation during rheumatoid arthritis. 


Researchers have revealed an unusual biochemical connection: ft (Fat) genes interact directly with mitochondria in cells.

Mitochondria are the primary sources of energy production within our cells and there are some 200 pathologies linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. 


A new study has found that the pond-dwelling, single-celled organism Oxytricha trifallax has the remarkable ability to break its own DNA into nearly a quarter-million pieces and will then rapidly reassemble those pieces when it's time to mate.

Why? No one knows, sometimes nature gets drunk and creates things that make no sense. The organism internally stores its genome as thousands of scrambled, encrypted gene pieces. Upon mating with another of its kind, the organism rummages through these jumbled genes and DNA segments to piece together more than 225,000 tiny strands of DNA. This all happens in about 60 hours.


In order to understand the genesis and treatment of cancer scientists are searching for links between genetic alterations and those diseases. 

Historically, most of those studies have focused on the portion of the human genome that encodes protein – about 2 percent of human DNA overall. The vast majority of genomic alterations associated with cancer lie outside protein-coding genes, in what biologists call "junk DNA" and that colloquially became considered junk to the public, even though that is no more accurate than the Higgs boson being an actual God Particle. "Junk DNA" is anything useless rubbish – much of it is transcribed into RNA, for instance - but finding meaning in the sequences remains a challenge. 


If you enjoy a sweet, fleshy peach today, give some thanks to scientifically minded, free-market farmers in China 7,500 years ago.

A new analysis has found that the domestic peaches popular worldwide today can trace their ancestry back to the lower Yangtze River Valley in Southern China at least that long ago.  Radiocarbon dating of ancient peach stones (pits) discovered in the Lower Yangtze River Valley indicates that the peach seems to have been diverged from its wild ancestors as early as 7,500 years ago. 
In a new study, scientists have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.

In general, small, low molecular weight compounds can pass the blood-brain barrier, while larger, higher weight compounds tend to be more potent. In the new study, however, small molecules became powerful inhibitors when they bound to targets in cells expressing an RNA defect, such as those found in myotonic dystrophy.

A strain of E. coli that is a common cause of outbreaks of food poisoning in the United States has had its genome sequenced. E. coli strain EDL933 was first isolated in the 1980s but gained national attention in 1993 when it was linked to an outbreak of food poisoning from Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in the western United States.


A new study finds that 'good' cholesterol is damaged by a sugar-derived substance, methylglyoxal (MG), was found to damage the 'good' cholesterol High Density Lipoprotein - HDL - which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body.

Methylglyoxal is formed from glucose in the body. It is 40,000 times more reactive than glucose and damages arginine residue (amino acid) in HDL at functionally important site causing the particle to become unstable.


The exchange of chemical signals between organisms is considered the oldest form of communication.

Acting as messenger molecules, pheromones regulate social interactions between conspecifics, for example, the sexual attraction between males and females. Fish rely on pheromones to trigger social responses and to coordinate reproductive behavior in males and females.


Human articular cartilage defects can be treated with nasal septum cells because they are able to adapt to the environment of the knee joint and can thus repair articular cartilage defects. 

The nasal cartilage cells' ability to self-renew and adapt to the joint environment is associated with the expression of so-called HOX genes. The scientific journal Science Translational Medicine has published the research results together with the report of the first treated patients.