Renegade genes caught red handed

The guardians of the human genome that work to prevent potentially disease-causing gene expression might not be as effective at their jobs as previously thought, according to new University of Arizona research. Human chromosomes are made up of DNA, about half of which includes ancient remnants of a type of virus called transposons. Also known as “jumping genes,” transposons have […]

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Stem cell researchers reactivate ‘back-up genes’ in the lab: Researchers in Belgium present new findings on X chromosome reactivation

Vincent Pasque and his team at KU Leuven have unravelled parts of a mechanism that may one day help to treat Rett syndrome and other genetic disorders linked to the X chromosome. Women and most female mammals have two X chromosomes, but only one of these is active in any given cell. This active X chromosome is selected through a […]

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When should NHS contact patients over faulty genes?

The NHS and health services worldwide need to develop policies on when patients should be “re-contacted” about faulty genes, as the current lack of guidance creates a dilemma for health services, experts have warned. Re-contacting happens when new information about a patient’s genes comes to light—such as when a certain gene mutation is reclassified as a cancer risk. A policy […]

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Typhoid toxin accelerates cell aging to enhance killer infection

Scientists have revealed how the typhoid toxin works to hijack DNA repair machines and accelerate the aging of cells, a breakthrough that could pave the way for new strategies to combat the killer disease. As part of the study, experts from the Department of Biomedical Science with support from the new Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield, infected […]

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Understanding probiotic yeast

Researchers led by Prof. Johan Thevelein (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology) have discovered that Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast with probiotic properties, produces uniquely excessive amounts of acetic acid, the main component of vinegar. They were also able to find the genetic basis for this trait, which allowed them to modify the acetic acid production of the yeast. If this unique […]

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New tool mines scientific texts for fusion protein facts: Computational approach could aid efforts to develop personalized cancer treatments

A new computational tool called ProtFus screens scientific literature to validate predictions about the activity of fusion proteins — proteins encoded by the joining of two genes that previously encoded two separate proteins. Somnath Tagore in the Frenkel-Morgenstern Lab at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and colleagues present ProtFus in PLOS Computational Biology. Different kinds of fusion proteins can arise naturally in […]

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How viruses outsmart their host cells: Scientists decipher protein structure after more than fifty years of research

Viruses depend on host cells for replication, but how does a virus induce its host to transcribe its own genetic information alongside that of the virus, thus producing daughter viruses? For decades, researchers have been studying a type of bacteriophage known as ‘lambda’ to try and find an answer to this question. Using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy, a research group from […]

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A simpler way to choose the sex of offspring by separating X and Y sperm: Differential gene activity by the two sex chromosomes allows X-bearing sperm to be slowed down

A simple, reversible chemical treatment can segregate X-bearing sperm from Y-bearing sperm, allowing dramatic alteration of the normal 50/50 male/female offspring ratio, according to a new study by Masayuki Shimada and colleagues at Hiroshima University, published on August 13 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. The study was performed in mice, but the technique is likely to be widely applicable […]

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Exploring genetic ‘dark matter,’ researchers gain new insights into autism and stroke

With its elegant double helix and voluminous genetic script, DNA has become the of darling of nucleic acids. Yet, it is not all powerful. In order for DNA to realize its potential — for genes to become proteins — it must first be transcribed into RNA, a delicate molecule that requires intense care and guidance. “Gene expression is a lot […]

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Alzheimer’s protein is likely held together with many weak chemical interactions: Model reveals new role for overlooked electron relationships

The chemical interactions that give proteins their shape may be weaker and more numerous than previously recognized. These weak connections provide a new way for researchers to understand proteins that cause disease and help them gain insights into the fundamentals of chemistry. Chemists at the University of Tokyo modeled the building blocks of the protein structure that causes Alzheimer’s disease, […]

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