Genetics & Molecular Biology

Proteins are the indispensable catalytic workhorses, carrying out the processes essential to life in today's sophisticated organisms, but long ago ribonucleic acid (RNA) reigned supreme.

Researchers have produced an atomic picture that shows how two of these very old molecules interact with each other and it provides a rare glimpse into the transition from an ancient, RNA-based world to our present, protein-catalyst dominated world. 
'Agouti' is a family of genes previously identified in humans and the first two members are responsible for skin and hair color. Identified by Vanderbilt scientists, AgRP2 the newest member of the family, exclusively found in bony fishes and is claimed to be responsible for the ability of fish to rapidly change color!

AgRP2 in Zebrafish
Can there be a genetic difference between progressives and conservatives?   Certainly we have had the discussion many times about studies, both sociological and biological, seeking to make the case that politics might be nature as well as nurture.
The jokes write themselves, really:

"Ozzy Osbourne's Genome Reveals Some Neandertal Lineage"

The idea itself is fascinating, though, and I am interested to see what more they can mine from the PoD (Prince of Darkness, to the uninitiated). I nominate the full contingent of Mötley Crüe as the next genetic guinea pigs, testing for why people who should by all accounts be dead are still alive and shouting at the devil.
Is alcoholism genetic as well as behavioral?  Studies have suggested it in the past and scientists at Brookhaven National Lab say they have the first experimental evidence of it.

Their study compared the brain's response to long-term alcohol drinking in two genetic variants of mice. One strain lacked the gene for a specific brain receptor dopamine D2, which responds to dopamine, the brain's "feel good" chemical, to produce feelings of pleasure and reward. The other strain was genetically normal.

In the dopamine-receptor-deficient mice (but not the genetically normal strain), long-term alcohol drinking resulted in significant biochemical changes in areas of the brain well know to be involved in alcoholism and addiction.

'Copy Number Variants' (CNVs) are hot. A CNV is a sizeable chunk of DNA that's either missing from your genome or present in extra copies. Chunks of DNA get copied or deleted on a surprisingly frequent basis. We've all got CNVs, most cases they are probably benign, but CNVs are becoming an increasingly appreciated as a significant source of medically important genetic variation. 'Recently appreciated' because we now have the technology to detect CVNVs reliably.
Two women who took part in the world's first controlled study of a genetic screening test before IVF have given birth to healthy babies.

The babies are the first deliveries in a pilot study of comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) by microarray, a new method of screening oocytes, female gametocytes involved in reproduction, before in vitro fertilization (IVF) for a full range of chromosomal disorders. 
The smallest entity of life is the single cell, which exists not only as single cell organisms, but as evolution proceeds, as members of a bigger and more complex living organism. During the progression of life, an organism encounters many experiences, and encodes these experiences as memories or knowledge.
People considered Jatropha some kind of miracle plant which will produce tonnes of oil without nutrition, water and good land and good seed or good climate. Researchers are not needed. Agrotechnology is not to be developed and all one has to do is to find some wasteland and put some seeds and within a year or two open a refinery . This is against the basic principles of biology and plant physiology. All plants including Jatropha need a soil base, which must have some level of organic matter, pH in neutral zone or nearabout, nitrogen and other nutrients in abundance and minerals and growth regulators in proper interactive role. People were very buisy bying lands or acquiring them so that the land will remain and its cost will appreciate let the plants die.
Ever wonder what the smallest protein is? Apparently it's TRP-Cage, a protein with only 20 amino acids derived from the saliva of Gila monsters.

Trp-cage - smallest protein

You can find the structure file and images in the PDB database ( with PDB ID = 1L2Y. This highly stable mini-protein is important for studies of protein stability, protein folding, and 3D structure.

Even with this small size, it displays secondary structural elements, such as an alpha helix, found in many proteins. So far there are no known proteins with less than 20 residues, but we'll see what happens in the future.