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Updated: 32 min 39 sec ago

How a single molecule turns one immune cell into another

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:07


Stills from time-lapse video showing transdifferentiation of pre-B cells into yeast-eating macrophages. All it takes is one molecule to reprogram an antibody-producing B cell into a scavenging macrophage. This transformation is possible, new evidence shows, because the molecule (C/EBPa, a transcription factor) "short-circuits" the cells so that they re-express genes reserved for embryonic development. The findings appear July 30 in Stem Cell Reports, the journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Bering Sea hotspot for corals and sponges

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:07


Coral habitats in the Bering Sea are home to a plethora of fish and marine mammals. North of the Aleutian Islands, submarine canyons in the cold waters of the eastern Bering Sea contain a highly productive "green belt" that is home to deep-water corals as well as a plethora of fish and marine mammals.

'Golden jackals' of East Africa are actually 'golden wolves'

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:07


A golden jackal (Canis aureus) from Israel. Based on genomic results, the researchers suggest this animal, the Eurasian golden jackal, is distinct from Canis anthus Despite their remarkably similar appearance, the "golden jackals" of East Africa and Eurasia are actually two entirely different species. The discovery, based on DNA evidence and reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 30, increases the overall biodiversity of the Canidae--the group including dogs, wolves, foxes, and jackals--from 35 living species to 36.

Scientists create functional liver cells from stem cells

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:06


This image shows stem cell-derived hepatocytes emerging. The liver plays a critical role in human metabolism. As the gatekeeper of the digestive track, this massive organ is responsible for drug breakdown and is therefore the first to be injured due to overdose or misuse. Evaluating this drug-induced liver injury is a critical part of pharmaceutical drug discovery and must be carried out on human liver cells. Regretfully, human liver cells, called hepatocytes, are in scarce supply as they can only be isolated from donated organs.

Robotic insect mimics Nature's extreme moves

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:06

The concept of walking on water might sound supernatural, but in fact it is a quite natural phenomenon. Many small living creatures leverage water's surface tension to maneuver themselves around. One of the most complex maneuvers, jumping on water, is achieved by a species of semi-aquatic insects called water striders that not only skim along water's surface but also generate enough upward thrust with their legs to launch themselves airborne from it.

Kicking latent HIV: New strategies to reactivate reservoirs of latent infection

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:06

In cells with latent HIV infection, the virus is dormant, and such cells are therefore not attacked by the immune system or by standard antiretroviral therapy. To eradicate the virus from the human body and truly cure a patient, reservoirs of latently infected cells need to be activated and eliminated "the so-called "kick-and-kill" approach. Two studies published on July 30th in PLOS Pathogens report encouraging results on the use of a combination of several drugs to efficiently reactivate HIV in cells with latent infection.

Research could lead to protective probiotics for frogs

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 11:06

In research that could lead to protective probiotics to fight the "chytrid" fungus that has been decimating amphibian populations worldwide, Jenifer Walke, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and her collaborators have grown bacterial species from the skin microbiome of four species of amphibians. The research appears July 10 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Where memory is encoded and retrieved: New findings in a long-standing debate

Tue, 28/07/2015 - 23:13

Are the same regions and even the same cells of the brain area called hippocampus involved in encoding and retrieving memories or are different areas of this structure engaged? This question has kept neuroscientists busy for a long time. Researchers at the Mercator Research Group "Structure of Memory" at RUB have now found out that the same brain cells exhibit activity in both processes. They have published their results in the journal "Hippocampus".

Major European mouse study reveals the role of genes in disease

Tue, 28/07/2015 - 23:13

Since mice share 90 percent of our genes they play an important role in understanding human genetics. The European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC) brought together scientists from across Europe to investigate the functions of 320 genes in mice. Over half of these genes had no previously known role, and the remaining genes were poorly understood.

Pitt study: Ancient proteins involved in DNA repair could shed light on tumor development

Tue, 28/07/2015 - 23:13

By studying the yeast used in beer- and bread-making, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have uncovered the mechanism by which ancient proteins repair DNA damage and how their dysfunction could lead to the development of tumors. The findings, published online today in Nature Communications, could lead to new ways to tailor cancer therapies.

Past and present genomes tell the story of Native American biological origins

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 22:22


Associate Professor of Anthropology Ripan Malhi was a senior coauthor among an international team of researchers, who clarified the history of early migration to the Americas The first human inhabitants of the Americas lived in a time thousands of years before the first written records, and the story of their transcontinental migration is the subject of ongoing debate and active research. A study by multi-institutional, international collaboration of researchers, published this week in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3884) presents strong evidence, gleaned from ancient and modern DNA samples, that the ancestry of all Native Americans can be traced back to a single migration event, with subsequent gene flow between some groups and populations that are currently located in East Asia and Australia.

Malaria's key to the liver uncovered

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 22:22


This illustration shows how the protein receptor CD68 acts as a gateway for a malaria parasite (sporozoite) to enter the liver through a Kupffer cell, as revealed by Cha et... Scientists uncover a port of liver entry for malaria parasites in a report published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. If these results hold up in humans, drugs that target this entry protein might help prevent the spread of disease.

Study finds non-genetic cancer mechanism

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 22:22

Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.

Yale study identifies 'major player' in skin cancer genes

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 22:22

A multidisciplinary team at Yale, led by Yale Cancer Center members, has defined a subgroup of genetic mutations that are present in a significant number of melanoma skin cancer cases. Their findings shed light on an important mutation in this deadly disease, and may lead to more targeted anti-cancer therapies.

Simple technology makes CRISPR gene editing cheaper

Fri, 24/07/2015 - 00:30


Some DNA sequences appear multiple times in the genome. Here, an RNA guide probe labels repetitive regions in the nucleus of a Xenopus laevis sperm. University of California, Berkeley, researchers have discovered a much cheaper and easier way to target a hot new gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, to cut or label DNA.

The mystery of the instant noodle chromosomes

Fri, 24/07/2015 - 00:30


This is an example of hierarchical folded package of globule. A group of researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University tried to address one of the least understood issues in the modern molecular biology, namely, how do strands of DNA pack themselves into the cell nucleus. Scientists concluded that packing of the genome in a special state called "fractal globule", apart from other known advantages of this state, allows the genetic machinery of the cell to operate with maximum speed due to comperatively rapid thermal diffusion. The article describing their results was published in Physical Review Letters.

Researchers discover new role for protein in cell division

Fri, 24/07/2015 - 00:30

Pharmaceutical sciences researchers at Washington State University have discovered a protein's previously unknown role in cell division.

Yeast cells optimize their genomes in response to the environment

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 00:49

Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth.

One night of sleep loss can alter clock genes in your tissues

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 00:49

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.

Biomarkers in blood shown to be highly selective indicators of brain damage

Wed, 22/07/2015 - 00:49

Researchers have shown that the levels of two proteins present in blood and cerebrospinal fluid increase significantly at different time points following traumatic brain injury (TBI), confirming their potential value as biomarkers of trauma-related brain damage. The researchers linked the changes in circulating UCH-L1 and GFAP proteins in rats to brain tissue damage and neuronal degeneration seen on examination of the rat brains and present their findings in an article published in Journal of Neurotrauma, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Neurotrauma website.