Genetics & Molecular Biology

Researchers have developed and used a new technique to connect the dots in the genomic puzzle. Just as dots have to be connected to visualize a full picture, the researchers connected regulatory elements called promoters and enhancers and showed their physical interactions over long distances within the mouse and human genomes.

The ability to map promoter-enhancer interactions in the human genome has huge potential in understanding the genetic basis of disease.

A new soybean with significantly reduced levels of three key proteins responsible for both its allergenic and anti-nutritional effects has been created. Soybean is a major ingredient in many infant formulas, processed foods and livestock feed used for agriculture.

In biology class you learned that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the main component of our genetic material and it is formed by combining four parts: A, C, G and T (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine), called bases of DNA. These bases combine in thousands of possible sequences to provide the genetic variability that enables the wealth of aspects and functions of living beings.

In the early 1980s, the four "classic" bases of DNA sort of got a fifth - methyl-cytosine (mC), derived from cytosine, which was later linked to epigenetic mechanisms because it is able to switch genes on or off depending on the physiological needs of each tissue.

Producing sperm is necessary to procreate and but procreation only happens the first time in those birth control public awareness films. In most cases, sperm must be produced continuously, and for an extended period of time, to insure reproduction.

A new study reveals that there are differences in reactivity to retinoic acid in spermatogonial stem cells, and these differences are a key factor to the persistence of sperm production with inexhaustible stem cells. 

A protein that normally fosters tissue repair instead acts to inhibit healing when sugar levels are high, according to a new study, and that role reversal helps explain why wounds heal slowly in people with diabetes.

Olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil largely consist of unsaturated fatty acids, whereas animal fat is richer in the saturated ones. After a meal, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy production by the heart but under fasting conditions, free fatty acids become the major energy producer. 

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone -- at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole.

One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture. These WDR proteins fold into a three-dimensional structure resembling a doughnut -- an unusual shape that allows WDR proteins to act as stable platforms on which large protein complexes can assemble or disassemble.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited, life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system. It is most commonly caused by a mutation in the cystic fibrosis gene known as F508del. The disorder has no cure, and treatment typically consists of symptom management. Previous attempts to treat the disease through gene therapy have been unsuccessful.

When we think of genetically modified organisms, we usually picture the modern legal definition and a controversy related to how science can aid in herbicide tolerance and insect resistance, but there are other applications of such engineered plants, such as the incorporation of genes for specific nutrients.  Golden Rice is a famous example. Though it is protested by environmental groups, it has been shown to be able to help prevent blindness and death for millions of children.

A new paper suggests that similar bio-fortification of rice with a gene to produce more folate (vitamin B9) could significantly reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defect conditions caused by deficiency of this nutrient.

Bees play an invaluable role in maintaining biodiversity and in pollinating the crops that feed the world, so it is essential to improve our understanding of their biology and to investigate how they respond to environmental threats. Despite their often slow and apparently bumbling flights from flower to flower, bumblebees are anything but lazy. With over 250 bumblebee species globally, these important insects perform the laborious task of pollinating flowers in both wild and agricultural settings. A large number of fruits and vegetables would be missing from our plates had a bumblebee not done its job.