Genetics & Molecular Biology

In 2002, President George W. Bush authorized funding for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) using federal money for the first time - but he limited that federal funding to existing lines.

Researchers have identified the genes in wheat that control tolerance to a significant yield-limiting soil condition found around the globe; boron toxicity.

A new study has discovered that microRNAs (miRNAs), small RNA molecules that play important roles in regulation in many types of tissue, play a major role in the distribution and determination of fat cells and whole body metabolism. The study also finds that microRNAs influence the development of lipodystrophy (abnormal fat accumulation) which affects many people with HIV receiving anti-retroviral therapy. 

Sorry Malcolm Gladwell, and you positive thinking book buyers at Whole Foods, you are not going to be a world-class sprinter no matter how much you practice unless you were born with exceptional speed.

A new paper by Michael Lombardo, professor of biology at Grand Valley State University, and Robert Deaner, associate professor of psychology, shows that the developmental histories of elite sprinters contradict the popular deliberate practice model of expertise. According to this deliberate model, there is no such thing as innate talent. Instead, 10 years of deliberate practice (roughly 10,000 hours) are necessary and sufficient for anyone to become an expert in any field, including sports.

A new study has affirmed what most of us knew - practice makes perfect, but only if you have some ability. In the nature versus nurture debate, Usain Bolt is still going to run faster than most people no matter how much they practice.

And that goes for musicians too. An analysis of 850 sets of twins leads Zach Hambrick, a Michigan State University professor of psychology, to say both genes and environment matter, "Not only in the sense that both nature and nurture contribute, but that they interact with each other.

Though cultural advocates invoke cancer for their causes, genetics is the dominant risk factor in common breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. 

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have shown regulatory proteins in the nucleus to adopt a kind of “Tom Sawyer” behavior when it comes to the work of initiating gene activation. 

Transcription factors are proteins that orchestrate the flow of genetic information from DNA to messenger RNA (mRNA) and the results show how transcription factors (TFs) activate mRNA synthesis of a gene, and leave the scene – in a model termed “hit-and-run” transcription.

In rodent models, a drug that blocks the action of the enzyme Cdk5 could substantially reduce brain damage if administered shortly after a stroke, according to a new paper in the Journal of Neuroscience, because aberrant Cdk5 activity causes nerve cell death during stroke.

A promising molecule that blocks bone destruction could provide a potential therapeutic target for osteoporosis and bone metastases of cancer, according to a new study.

The molecule, miR-34a, belongs to a family of small molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs) that serve as brakes to help regulate how much of a protein is made, which in turn, determines how cells respond.

Mice with higher than normal levels of miR-34a had increased bone mass and reduced bone breakdown. This outcome is achieved because miR-34a blocks the development of bone-destroying cells called osteoclasts, which make the bone less dense and prone to fracture.

Significant progress has been made over the last 25 years to identify genetic abnormalities associated with congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) but many patients remain genetically undiagnosed. A new report identifies a gene defect in mitochondria, specifically the citrate carrier SLC25A1, that may underlie deficits in neuromuscular transmission seen in two siblings.

"While mitochondrial gene defects can cause a myriad of neurological disorders including myopathies and neuropathies, these have not been specifically implicated in defects of the neuromuscular junction," says Hanns Lochmüller, MD, Professor of Experimental Myology, Institute of Genetic Medicine, MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.