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Life in 3-D
Scientists at EMBL Heidelberg and Stanford University have shed new light on certain genetic variants can 'switch' on or off the regulatory elements which control the expression of genes and ultimately the manifestation of an individual's characteristics and disease predispositions. The work is published today in Cell. (2015-08-20)

Long distance travelers likely contributing to antibiotic resistance's spread
Swedish exchange students who studied in India and in central Africa returned from their sojourns with an increased diversity of antibiotic resistance genes in their gut microbiomes. The research is published 10 August in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. (2015-08-20)

Molecular machine, not assembly line, assembles microtubules
When they think about how cells put together the molecules that make life work, biologists have tended to think of assembly lines: Add A to B, tack on C, and so on. But the reality might be more like a molecular version of a 3-D printer, where a single mechanism assembles the molecule in one go. (2015-08-19)

Is nature mostly a tinkerer or an inventor?
By closely examining the genomes of 48 species, biologists from the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences have revealed the timing and mechanisms underlying the expansion and diversification of the KLF/SP gene family, which is known to regulate the maintenance of stem cells. (2015-08-18)

Loss of altruism (and a body plan) without a loss of genes
An international team of researchers found that the evolutionary loss of the 'altruistic' worker caste in ants is not accompanied by a loss of genes. (2015-08-11)

Polyglutamine repeats play key role in functional development of cells
Scientists at VIB and KU Leuven have revealed that variable polyglutamine repeats in the DNA tune the function of the protein in which they reside. To date, these repeats were known only to cause severe neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's. These findings now show that polyglutamine repeats may be more than just harmful elements. The study was published in the leading molecular biology journal Molecular Cell. (2015-08-11)

Scientists discover how key proteins segregate vital genetic information during mitosis
Chromosomes are responsible for carrying our genes and essentially protecting the information that helps ensure normal growth, with vital instructions being passed on by mitosis. While this copying mechanism has been well understood for decades, scientists have been unable to describe exactly how genetic information is protected and properly segregated as mitosis is happening. New research from the Wistar Institute has identified an interaction between proteins that provides a pivotal role in organizing chromosomes so that vital genetic information gets passed on safely. (2015-08-06)

Genetic tug of war in the brain influences behavior
Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine report on a version of genetic parental control that is more nuanced, and specialized, than classic genomic imprinting. Published in Cell Reports, so-called noncanonical imprinting is particularly prevalent in the brain, and skews the genetic message in subpopulations of cells so that mom, or dad, has a stronger say. The mechanism can influence offspring behavior, and because it is observed more frequently than classic imprinting, appears to be preferred. (2015-07-30)

Study of birds' sense of smell reveals important clues for behavior and adaptation
A large comparative genomic study of the olfactory genes tied to a bird's sense of smell has revealed important differences that correlate with their ecological niches and specific behaviors. (2015-07-29)

A way to predict whether children with DiGeorge syndrome will develop autism or psychosis
New findings by researchers at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh are the first to suggest a potential way to predict whether children with DiGeorge syndrome will develop one of two mental impairments. In a study published in PLOS ONE, the researchers report having isolated specific genetic differences between people with the syndrome who have autism and those who have psychosis. (2015-07-24)

Opening the door to the cause of myeloid leukemia: Finding the targets of common mutation
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have made a breakthrough in understanding how mutated genes in leukemia reprogram blood stem cells and send them spiraling out of control. (2015-07-23)

One night of sleep loss can alter clock genes in your tissues
Swedish researchers at Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute have found that genes that control the biological clocks in cells throughout the body are altered after losing a single night of sleep, in a study that is to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. (2015-07-21)

Yeast cells optimize their genomes in response to the environment
Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth. Changing behavior in response to nutrients can occur at many levels: by varying protein activity or modifying gene expression. Research published in PNAS reveals that yeast go one step further and actually modify their genomes to act optimally in the current environment. (2015-07-21)

Keystone species: Which are the most important functional genes in an ecosystem?
Microbial ecosystems such as biological wastewater treatment plants and the human gastrointestinal tract are home to a vast diversity of bacterial species. Scientists of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine and the Life Science Research Unit of the University of Luxembourg, in collaboration with US researchers, have now succeeded for the first time in determining key functional genes and the organisms encoding these in such ecological systems, working from extensive data of bacterial genetics and bacterial metabolism. (2015-07-20)

Research finds ovarian hormones play genes like a fiddle
A complex relationship between genes, hormones and social factors can lead to eating disorders in women. Kelly Klump, Michigan State University eating disorder expert, has made monumental strides in deciphering how these factors interact. In her latest discovery, she has found that during the menstrual cycle, ovarian hormones act like a master conductor -- they turn genetic risk on and off in the body. (2015-07-15)

Brain study reveals insights into genetic basis of autism
UNSW Australia scientists have discovered a link between autism and genetic changes in some segments of DNA that are responsible for switching on genes in the brain. The finding is the result of a world-first study of the human brain that identified more than 100 of these DNA segments, known as enhancers, which are thought to play a vital role in normal development by controlling gene activity in the brain. (2015-07-13)

USC Stem Cell researchers poke around for blood genes
Even though the transplantation of blood stem cells, also known as bone marrow, has saved many lives over many decades, the genes that control the number or function of blood stem cells are not fully understood. In a study published in June in Stem Cell Reports, the USC Stem Cell labs of Hooman Allayee and Gregor Adams uncovered new genes that affect blood stem cell development and maintenance. (2015-07-10)

New research: Coffee not associated with lifestyle diseases
Danish researchers are the first in the world to have used our genes to investigate the impact of coffee on the body. The new study shows that coffee neither increases nor decreases the risk of lifestyle diseases. (2015-07-09)

DNA protection, inch by inch
DNA within reproductive cells is protected through a clever system of find and destroy: new research published in Cell Reports today lifts the veil on how this is done. (2015-07-09)

Hippo dances with hormones
In fruit flies, the abnormal growth induced by Hippo pathway disruption depends on genes involved in responding to the steroid hormone ecdysone. This has potential implications for human biology, since the Hippo pathway is involved in suppressing cancer growth and forming embryonic stem cells. (2015-07-02)

Should scientists be allowed to genetically alter human embryos?
Scientists have at their disposal a way to explore the possible prevention of genetic diseases before birth. But should they? Currently, the most promising path forward involves editing the genes of human embryos, a procedure rife with controversy. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, parses the explosive issue. (2015-07-01)

Attractive female flies harmed by male sexual attention
Too much male sexual attention harms attractive females, according to a new Australian and Canadian study on fruit flies. Associate Professor Steve Chenoweth from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences said the study showed that male harassment of females hampered the species' ability to adapt to new environmental conditions. (2015-06-26)

Waging war on Australia's nastiest parasite: scientists map blowfly genome
Researchers have decoded the Australian sheep blowfly genome, adding ammunition to the battle against one of the nation's most insidious pests. (2015-06-25)

Cancer and vampires: An evolutionary approach
A Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientist has developed a new Internet tool that will allow any investigator, physician or patient to analyze genes according to their evolutionary profile and find associated genes. The tool combines genomics and informatics to enables the rapid, cost-free identification of genes responsible for diseases, by inputting results from genetic mapping studies concerning suspected genes, and identifying connections to known genes with association to diseases. (2015-06-25)

Researchers uncover epigenetic switches that turn stem cells into blood vessel cells
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have identified a molecular mechanism that directs embryonic stem cells to mature into endothelial cells -- the specialized cells that form blood vessels. Understanding the processes initiated by this mechanism could help scientists more efficiently convert stem cells into endothelial cells for use in tissue repair, or for engineering blood vessels to bypass blockages in the heart. (2015-06-25)

PolyU develops big data analysis platform to unveil gene interactions in cancer
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has achieved a breakthrough in the cancer genomics by developing a novel big data analysis platform for analyzing the interactions among genes. The analysis platform unveils the unregulated patterns of gene network in cancer and discovers potential diagnostic and therapeutic target genes, Nucleophosmin (NPM1) and its associated genes, in chronic myelogenous leukemia. (2015-06-23)

Single gene controls fish brain size and intelligence
A single gene called Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) drives brain size and intelligence in fish according to a new study by researchers at UCL, Stockholm University and University of Helsinki. (2015-06-23)

New biomarker identified in women with mental illness
Psychiatric disorders can be difficult to diagnose because clinicians must rely upon interpreted clues, such as a patient's behaviors and feelings. For the first time, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report identifying a biological marker: the over-production of specific genes that could be a diagnostic indicator of mental illness in female psychiatric patients. (2015-06-19)

BioMed Central to publish Genes and Environment
BioMed Central is pleased to partner with the Japanese Environmental Mutagen Society in publishing the open-access journal Genes and Environment. (2015-06-16)

Toothed whales have survived millions of years without key antiviral proteins
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have determined that toothed whales lack functional Mx genes -- a surprising discovery, since all 56 other sequenced mammals in the study possess these genes to fight off viruses like HIV, measles and flu. (2015-06-15)

Fruit fly genetics reveal pesticide resistance and insight into cancer
Thomas Werner at Michigan Technological University has bridged the miniscule and the massive in an effort to better understand the mechanisms behind several unique features of fruit fly genes. (2015-06-05)

Do cheaters have an evolutionary advantage?
What is it with cheating? Cheaters seem to have an immediate advantage over cooperators, but do they have an evolutionary advantage? A study published in Current Biology suggests the benefits of cheating change with its prevalence,in a population. Cheaters may succeed, for example, only when they are rare, and fail when they become so numerous they push out cooperators. (2015-06-04)

DNA which only females have
In many animal species, the chromosomes differ between the sexes. The male has a Y chromosome. In some animals, however, for example birds, it is the other way round. In birds, the females have their own sex chromosome, the W chromosome. For the first, researchers in Uppsala have mapped the genetic structure and evolution of the W chromosome. (2015-06-04)

DNA breakage underlies both learning, age-related damage
MIT researchers have found that the process that allows brains to learn also leads to degeneration with age. (2015-06-04)

How Salmonella synchronizes its invasion plan
A new study from the Institute of Food Research has uncovered a mechanism by which Salmonella bacteria organize the expression of genes required for infection. (2015-06-04)

Social networking against cancer
Research published in International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics shows how social network analysis can be used to understand and identify the biomarkers in our bodies for diseases, including different types of cancer. (2015-06-04)

Reprogramming of DNA observed in human germ cells for first time
A team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge has described for the first time in humans how the epigenome -- the suite of molecules attached to our DNA that switch our genes on and off -- is comprehensively erased in early primordial germ cells prior to the generation of egg and sperm. However, the study, published today in the journal Cell, shows some regions of our DNA -- including those associated with conditions such as obesity and schizophrenia -- resist complete reprogramming. (2015-06-04)

Understanding how cells follow electric fields
Weak electric fields may be important in guiding cells into wounds to heal them. Researchers at UC Davis and Johns Hopkins have developed a screen to search for genes linked to electrotaxis, the ability to move in response to electric fields. (2015-05-28)

UMN research identifies potential proteins to target in osteosarcoma treatment
New models developed at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota reveal the genes and pathways that, when altered, can cause osteosarcoma. The information could be used to better target treatments for the often-deadly type of cancer. The new research is published in Nature Genetics. (2015-05-27)

Sex chromosomes -- why the Y genes matter
Several genes have been lost from the Y chromosome in humans and other mammals, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study shows that essential Y genes are rescued by relocating to other chromosomes, and it identifies a potentially important genetic factor in male infertility. (2015-05-27)

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