Genetics & Molecular Biology
I've just returned from a week on Kauai. It is known as "The Garden Isle" of the Hawaiian chain, but recently that garden has been heavily sown with seeds of fear, suspicion, and conspiratorial narratives.
On Wednesday, the 31st of July, there was a marathon session of the County Council during which hundreds of people lined up to give testimony about Bill 2491 from 1 pm until midnight. Angst was a common theme. The activist speakers made hyperbolic assertions about heartless corporations perfectly willing to sicken the entire population of the island and destroy the environment. Many non-agricultural residents expressed their palpable fear for the safety of their families.
Mosses are tiny plants with a simple body plan - they have no roots, no flowers and do not produce seeds. It was reasonable to assume they were also simple organisms also at the genetic level.
Not so, a new study describes 32,275 protein-encoding genes from the moss Physcomitrella patens, about 10,000 genes more than the human genome contains.
X chromosomes are special, even for genetic material. They differ in number between men and women and to achieve equality between sexes, one out of two X chromosomes in women is silenced.
In Drosophila, the opposite happens: in male flies, the only available X chromosome is highly activated, to compensate for the absence of the second X-chromosome.
Newly published research reveals that aberrant signaling by a protein called transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta - already known for its role in some connective tissue disorders) is also a potent player in many types of allergies.
Scientists have long understood that allergies are the result of a complex interplay between environment and genes, but now, in what investigators call a scientific first, a single genetic pathway has been implicated in an array of allergic disorders.
The genetic sequence of the X chromosome, the female counterpart to the male-associated Y chromosome, reveals that large portions of the X have evolved to play a specialized role in sperm production.
Neural tube defects affect more than 300,000 babies born around the world each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neural tube defects, including anencephaly and spina bifida, are caused by the incomplete closure or development of the spine and skull.
Using dogs as a model, researchers recently found that a gene related to neural tube defects in man's best friend may be an important risk factor for human neural tube defects. The cause of neural tube defects is poorly understood but has long been thought to be associated with genetic, nutritional and environmental factors.
from the natural process of X chromosome inactivation, scientists recently
discovered a way to “turn off” the extra copy of chromosome 21 in Down syndrome,
a strategy that might one day cure this disorder.
Scientists have revealed the genetic secrets of how a small bird, Parus humilis
(ground tit) can survive in one of the most hostile environments on earth - the Tibetan plateau, the largest high-altitude land mass in the world.
The study found molecular signatures in the ground tit genome which reveal how it copes with the extreme living conditions of this habitat, said co-authors Professor David Lambert and Dr. Sankar Subramanian from Griffith University.
In 1953, the lightbulb went on for Watson and Crick, who first published the famous double helix 3-D structure of DNA. Structural biology soon became a hot field. Using high intensity X-ray beams, NMR, and other hardware advances, coupled with exponential advances in software algorithims, molecular biologists can now easily solve the 3-D structure of many proteins (but not all, at least yet) with the resolution of single digit angstroms.
RNA is now entering the fray as the final frontier. After all, it is only the key link between DNA and proteins. It is much more diverse and complicated than either one. With all the splicing, refolding, and scaffolding, RNA is the true workhorse of evolution.
Every cell in an organism's body has the same copy of DNA, though different cells do different things so some function as brain cells, while others form muscle tissue. How can the same DNA make different things happen? Science is a step closer to answers and maybe even to putting in a piece of the autism puzzle.
Scientists know that much of what a gene does and produces is regulated after it is turned on. A gene first produces an RNA molecule, to which tiny RNA binding proteins (RBPs) bind and control its fate. For example, some of these proteins cut out parts of the RNA molecule so that it makes a particular protein, while other RBPs help destroy the RNA before it even produces a protein.