Genetics & Molecular Biology
Researchers at the University of Iowa and Kansas State University say a deafness-causing gene defect in mice helped identify a new protein that protects sensory cells in the ear, according to findings in PLoS Genetics.
In humans, hereditary deafness is one of the most common birth defects, yet most genes involved in hearing are unidentified. Mice are used as research models because mouse and human auditory genetics are very similar.
Using a deaf mouse model generated at The Jackson Laboratory, the team identified the deafness-causing defect in the claudin-9 gene. The mutated gene fails to produce normal claudin-9 protein, which, the UI team showed, is needed to maintain the proper distribution of potassium in the inner ear.
I'm not sure what Freeman Dyson has been smoking when he argues that cutting-edge genome science is ripe for hobbyists:
Today, I was met by a science-debunker (laugh a little, you know you want to.) He didn't know that I work in the field of biotechnology, or that I am a scientist. I am often met with the, "you're too pretty to have a high IQ," mentality, so I tend to take the route of listening to the blather before I correct them. It makes their judgment of my level of intelligence seem so much more embarrassing. Cruel? Perhaps a little.
He had heard through friends that I am an atheist (according to him, this is synonymous with devil worship, and he wished only to save me from an eternity in hell.) We proceeded to have a half-religious-half-philosophical conversation discussing the bible, stoicism and how misguided I am, but that's a story for another entry.
It is a start. The first version of the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) was published for the process diagram, the entity relationship diagram, and the activity flow diagram. The figure caption below is copied from the August 8 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, unfortunately, without its figure.
Biology has just gotten a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information, biology's equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics.
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and their colleagues say this visual language should make it easier to exchange complex information, so that models are accurate, efficient and readily understandable. The new standard, called the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), is published today in Nature Biotechnology.
A group of University of Utah scientists say they developed a "molecular condom" that could help protect women against AIDS in Africa and other impoverished areas.
It's a vaginal gel that turns semisolid in the presence of semen, trapping AIDS virus particles in a microscopic mesh so they can't infect vaginal cells.
A study testing the behavior of the new gel and showing how it traps AIDS-causing HIV particles will be published online later this week in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
The sex hormone estrogen tempers the killing activity of immune cells called cytotoxic T cells (CTLs), which are known to attack tumor cells and cells infected by viruses.
Estrogen plays a critical role in the regulation of growth and the development of cells and is also crucial for cell-type-specific gene expression in various tissues. Deregulation of this system results in breast and ovarian cancer. The key player in this process is a cytotoxic T cell molecule known as EBAG9.
Breast and ovarian tumors are treated with drugs such as tamoxifen. Researchers suggest that this drug inhibits tumor growth by blocking the estrogen receptors of the tumor cells. However, up to now it has been unclear what effect this inhibition has on the immune system.
We may not like to admit it, human beings engage in "like with like" mating, what population geneticists call assortative mating
. Individuals are more likely to mate with other individuals with characteristics like their own (i.e., Brangelina
). Humans practice assortative mating based on many characteristics, such as height, IQ, skin color, social status, and religion. And, according to this Hot or NotTM
study, humans also practice assortative dating based on looks
Tangential Science: it's not necessarily science, but it's still funny.
Researchers at the University of California Riverside (UCR) have developed a new mid-season maturing variety of tangerine. They call it DaisySL, for for Daisy seedless. It is made from an irradiated bud of the seedy diploid mandarin cultivar 'Daisy,' that is a hybrid of the mandarins Fortune and Fremont
Supervised by staff scientist Timothy Williams, the planting of the trees and performed evaluations and selections of promising varieties were meticulously monitored. It was 'DaisySL' that had the right characteristics he and Mikeal Roose, a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UCR, were looking for in a new variety: beautiful appearance, exceptional flavor, and hardly any seeds.