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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New insight into microRNA function can give gene therapy a boost

Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Oxford have shown that small RNA molecules occurring naturally in cells, i.e. microRNAs, are also abundant in cell nuclei. Previously, microRNAs were mainly thought to be found in cytoplasm. The scientists also discovered that microRNA concentrations in cell nuclei change as a result of hypoxia. The findings strongly suggest […]

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New gene linked to healthy aging in worms

People with the same lifespan do not necessarily have the same quality of life. As we live longer, extending quality of life — “healthspan” — is gaining importance. Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have discovered a gene linked with healthy ageing in the roundworm C. elegans, shedding light on the genetics of healthspan. […]

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Ancient epigenetic changes silence cancer-linked genes

An epigenetic change, a form of DNA control, that deactivates some genes linked to cancer late in human development has been conserved for more than 400 million years, new research led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research suggests. Researchers uncovered that genes turned on in some cancers in humans also exist in zebrafish—but are ‘silenced’ within just hours of […]

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Keeping a cell’s powerhouse in shape

A German-Swiss team around Professor Oliver Daumke from the MDC has investigated how a protein of the dynamin family deforms the inner mitochondrial membrane. The results, which also shed light on a hereditary disease of the optic nerve, have been published in Nature. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, generating energy in the form of chemical compounds such as […]

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Mutant bacterial receptor could point to new therapies against opportunistic pathogen

Researchers have developed a new mutant version of a receptor used by a bacterial pathogen for a chemical communication process called quorum sensing, according to a study published June 13 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University, and colleagues. As the authors note, the mutant receptor could be used to identify therapeutic compounds that inhibit […]

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A treasure map to understanding the epigenetic causes of disease

More than 15 years after scientists first mapped the human genome, most diseases still cannot be predicted based on one’s genes, leading researchers to explore epigenetic causes of disease. But the study of epigenetics cannot be approached the same way as genetics, so progress has been slow. Now, researchers at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of […]

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New compounds could be used to treat autoimmune disorders

The immune system is programmed to rid the body of biological bad guys — like viruses and dangerous bacteria — but its precision isn’t guaranteed. In the tens of millions of Americans suffering from autoimmune diseases, the system mistakes normal cells for malicious invaders, prompting the body to engage in self-destructive behavior. This diverse class of conditions, which includes Type […]

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