Genetics & Molecular Biology

We all know how irritating it is to have an inbox flooded with junk mail.

Fortunately email providers these days contain filters to keep the junk mail at bay.

As a result the junk mail folder tends to pile up with never-to-be-read emails.

But, occasionally, an important email is snagged by the filter and is unduly ignored.

We can think of the human genome as a server sending out a constant bombardment of emails. These messages are on average 2,000 letters long, and these “letters” are made up of different types of bases, some of which are packaged in the form of RNA.

A new study has created a cause-and-effect link between chronic high blood sugar and disruption of mitochondria, the energy factories that create the metabolic energy that power most of our cells. 

Previous experiments by other research groups had shown that the high blood sugar of untreated diabetes alters the activity of mitochondria, compartments that process nutrients into useable energy for cells. To find out why, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Partha Banerjee compared the enzymes in mitochondria from the hearts of rats with diabetes to those from healthy rat hearts. He looked for differences in levels of two enzymes that add and remove a molecule called O-GlcNAc to proteins.  

To understand how transposable elements, DNA sequences capable of moving independently,  shape genomes, where they are maintained over generations, it is vital to discover the mechanisms behind their targeted integration.

Researchers from the Laboratoire Pathologie et Virologie Moléculaire (CNRS/Inserm/Université Paris Diderot), Institut de biologie intégrative de la cellule and the University of Minnesota have identified an interaction between two proteins that is essential for the integration of a transposable element into a specific area of the yeast genome. The results emphasize the role of these mobile DNA sequences in the evolution and adaptation of organisms, and their potential value for gene therapy.

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.