Genetics & Molecular Biology

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. 

Centrioles - barrel-shaped structures inside cells- are made up of multiple proteins and since mutations in the proteins that make them up can cause a broad range of diseases, including developmental abnormalities, respiratory conditions, male sterility and cancer, they are the focus of a great deal of research

There may be more a natural way to reduce the use of pesticides but still save plants from attack -  by recreating a natural insect repellent based on smell.

Scientists from Cardiff University and Rothamsted Research have created tiny molecules which mirror a natural occurring smell known to repel insects by providing the enzyme ((S)-germacrene D synthase), which creates the smell, with alternative substrate molecules. 

The effectiveness of the smell or perfume to function as an insect repellent was tested and the team found that the smells repelled insects but in one case a reversal of behavior - an attractant - was observed which raises the prospect of being able to develop a trap-and-kill device. 

Stem cells cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes and it has been thought that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells with essential nutrients.