Genetics & Molecular Biology

A study in mice reveals that hormones that dictate a female's attraction towards males do so in part by controlling her sense of smell. 

The investigators analyzed female mice at various stages of the ovulation cycle and found that when a female is not ready for reproduction, her hormones (specifically progesterone) block her ability to sense the smell of male pheromones.

These hormones diminish during ovulation, eventually allowing a female mouse to smell a potential partner. When ovulation ends, the cycle repeats, and she is again rendered "odor-blind" to males.

In many animal species, the chromosomes differ between the sexes - the male has a Y chromosome. This contains genes which result in the development of male characters and reproductive organs. If there is no Y chromosome, the organism will be a female.

But in birds and some other animals, it is the other way round and females have their own sex chromosome, the W chromosome. 

Until now, de novo genetic mutations, alterations in a gene found for the first time in one family member, were believed to be mainly the result of new mutations in the sperm or eggs (germline) of one of the parents and passed on to their child.

Researchers from The Netherlands have now succeeded in determining that at least 6.5% of de novo mutations occur during the development of the child (post-zygotic) rather than from the germline of a parent.  

Researchers have identified individual stem cells that can regenerate tissue, cartilage and bone.

The stem cells are mixed within human bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) but are similar in appearance and previously, scientists had difficulty in distinguishing between them. The researchers isolated individual MSCs and analyzed their different properties.

This allowed researchers to identify those stem cells which are capable of repairing damaged cartilage or joint tissue opening the way for improved treatment for arthritis.

In the animal kingdom, predators use a full range of strategies, such as camouflage, speed and optical illusions, to catch their prey. Meanwhile, prey species resort to the same tactics to escape from their predators. Such tricks are also used at the molecular level, as discovered by researchers from the CNRS, INRA, CEA and INSERM in one of the most devastating bacterial plant pathogens in the world, which bypasses plant cell defenses by preventing an immune signaling from being triggered.

Even more surprising is the fact that plant cells have developed a receptor incorporating a decoy intended to catch the invader in its own trap. 

A long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), which might give an impact on tyrosine kinase-targeted leukemia therapy, was found to be expressed in a leukemia cell line.

The function of the lncRNA CCDC26 is not fully understood; however, researchers found the mechanisms by which CCDC26 controls the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT expression. Recent transcriptomic studies have revealed the existence of numerous RNAs that are relatively long but not translated into proteins. Some of such lncRNAs are suggested to regulate the expression of other genes. Mutations or imbalances in the noncoding RNA repertoire within the body can therefore cause a variety of diseases such as cancer. However, the molecular functions of lncRNAs remain to be fully elucidated.

Researchers have unraveled one of the mysteries of how a small group of immune cells work: That some inflammation-fighting immune cells may actually convert into cells that trigger disease. 

White blood cells, called T-cells, iare one of the body's critical disease fighters. Regulatory immune cells, called "Tregs," direct T-cells and control unwanted immune reactions that cause inflammation. They are known to produce only anti-inflammatory proteins to keep inflammation caused by disease in check.

Some flavorings used in electronic cigarette liquid may alter important cellular functions in lung tissue, according to a presentation at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

The changes in cell viability, cell proliferation, and calcium signaling are flavor-dependent so coupling these results with chemicals identified in each flavor could prove useful in identifying flavors or chemical constituents that might produce adverse effects in users.

A new study suggests that bread from certain wheat varieties have differentiated sensory properties and that could mean customized breeding for more personalized food in the future.

A research group at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) has developed the sensory profile of five different wheat varieties -three bread wheat (Triticum aestivum ssp. vulgare L.) and two spelt wheat (T. aestivum ssp. spelta) and has found significant differences among them. 

Transposable elements are DNA sequences that are capable of changing their genome position by cut and paste or copy and paste through the enzyme transposase.

This ability can be harmful for hosts if transposable elements destroy functioning genes, but it can also bring advantages. From an evolutionary point of view, transposable elements diversify the genome and open up chances for adaptation.