Tag Archives: Genetics

Ph.Diddy

10 Apr


Turn it up, dance, and giggle.
Via D&A Lab, a totally awesome blog that every science nerd should check out.

Electrophoresis Love

18 Mar


Electrophoresis is beautiful!
❤ ❤ ❤

Molecular Machines

11 Mar

I love this video, for so many reasons.
I love how he makes a point to talk about the importance of art in scientific research and education. Because of their tiny size, accurate artistic representation is the best tool science currently has to convey how molecule interact and behave.
I love how it gives one of the best scale perspectives of DNA and chromosomes that I’ve ever seen. Simply breathtaking.
And I love how he focuses on the specific fibers and signaling proteins, demonstrating how amazing our adorable little molecular machines are.
It’s a nine minute video, and worth every second of your time.
Enjoy!

Science Quickies: The Ocean In Space, High Tech Cows, and Racism Drugs

10 Mar

The largest, oldest body of water has been discovered. It lives in space. No, seriously. Space has oceans now. Beachfront resorts are coming soon.

My thoughts and support are with Phumeza Tisile, a Doctors Without Borders tuberculosis blogger who received some bad news this week.

NPR reports on Claudia, the high tech cow who produces 75 gallons of milk a day, as opposed to the 30 gallons by a normal cow. Moo.

In blood news, scientists have examined the crystal x-ray structure of full length human plasminogen, which provides insight on activation and conversion to plasmin.

Bellicum Pharmaceuticals raises $20M to progress cell transplant and cancer vaccine products.  Further proof that all a research scientist has to do is walk into a room and say “cancer,” and money will be thrown at them.

The Journal of Microscopy is offering their first issue of 2012 free online.

Propranolol, a beta blocker which has made the news often with its effective anxiety treatment, “abuse” in the musical performance community as a “performance enhancer,” and promise as a memory erasing post-trauma drug, is back in the news again, with claims that it can cure racism.

New Type of Extra Chromosomal DNA Discovered

9 Mar

A team of scientists from the University of Virginia and University of North Carolina in the US have discovered a previously unidentified type of small circular DNA molecule occurring outside the chromosomes in mouse and human cells. The circular DNA is 200-400 base pairs in length and consists of non-repeating sequences. The new type of extra-chromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) has been dubbed microDNA. Unlike other forms of eccDNA, in microDNA the sequences of base pairs are non-repetitive and are usually found associated with particular genes. This suggests they may be produced by micro-deletions of small sections of the chromosomal DNA.
(via PhysOrg)

Science Quickies

9 Mar

And now, a round up of articles that I meant to get around to posting, but forgot about or got distracted, and decided that linking them would be way easier instead.

Creating art with sound and sand. Capturing the beauty of acoustic physics.

MIT students can now become pirates. Yaaaaarg.

6 Terrifying Creatures Science Just Discovered. I personally think the devil worm is amazing. Also, the article has a bit of a misleading statement: Cryptococcus gattii, as fellow mycology nerds will know, is not newly discovered. What they’re referencing is a relatively newly discovered strain of C. gattii, reported in 2010.

The newly discovered 42 foot, 1.3 ton ancient snake is actually pretty damn awesome, and I sorta want one. The picture comparing the vertebrae of it vs. an anaconda really shows you how big this snake was.  

Oldest Organism With Skeleton Discovered in Australia. Can we say d’awww?

Simply possessing an extra gene makes adorable lab mice thinner and cancer-free. Not your average cancer research article.

Lower jaw shape reflects dietary differences between human populations. Excuse me as I gratify my inner anthropology nerd.

Genetic Coffee

7 Mar

I love it when science validates my coffee addiction ^_^

Exercise and Caffeine Change Your DNA in the Same Way, Study Suggests

via Science Daily, March 6th, 2012

You might think that the DNA you inherited is one thing that you absolutely can’t do anything about, but in one sense you’d be wrong. Researchers reporting in the March issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, have found that when healthy but inactive men and women exercise for a matter of minutes, it produces a rather immediate change to their DNA. Perhaps even more tantalizing, the study suggests that the caffeine in your morning coffee might also influence muscle in essentially the same way.

The underlying genetic code in human muscle isn’t changed with exercise, but the DNA molecules within those muscles are chemically and structurally altered in very important ways. Those modifications to the DNA at precise locations appear to be early events in the genetic reprogramming of muscle for strength and, ultimately, in the structural and metabolic benefits of exercise.

“Our muscles are really plastic,” says Juleen Zierath of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “We often say “You are what you eat.” Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don’t use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen.”

The DNA changes in question are known as epigenetic modifications and involve the gain or loss of chemical marks on DNA over and above the familiar sequence of As, Gs, Ts, and Cs. The new study shows that the DNA within skeletal muscle taken from people after a burst of exercise bears fewer chemical marks (specifically methyl groups) than it did before exercise. Those changes take place in stretches of DNA that are involved in turning “on” genes important for muscles’ adaptation to exercise.

When the researchers made muscles contract in lab dishes, they saw a similar loss of DNA methyl groups. Exposure of isolated muscle to caffeine had the same effect.

Zierath explained that caffeine does mimic the muscle contraction that comes with exercise in other ways, too. She doesn’t necessarily recommend anyone drink a cup of joe in place of exercise. It’s nevertheless tempting to think that athletes who enjoy a coffee with their workout might just be on to something.

Broadly speaking, the findings offer more evidence that our genomes are much more dynamic than they are often given credit for. Epigenetic modifications that turn genes on and back off again can be incredibly flexible events. They allow the DNA in our cells to adjust as the environment shifts.

“Exercise is medicine,” Zierath says, and it seems the means to alter our genomes for better health may be only a jog away. And for those who can’t exercise, the new findings might point the way to medicines (caffeinated ones, perhaps?) with similar benefits.

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Further evidence on why coffee is amazing. Exercise is ok too. Just not as awesome as coffee. A related article can be found at Nature, which is also pretty awesome ^_^