Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

What do you get when you cross yeast and first year biology students?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-01-2012

What do you get when you cross a yeast and first year biology students?

Apparently, a very cool undergraduate course and significant scientific innovation!

UC Berkeley students who are lucky enough to be enrolled in the university’s entry-level biology course are being exposed to a discovery-based learning curriculum that gives them hands-on bench experience and has resulted in the discovery of a novel technique published in the current issue of Genetics.

Under the mentorship of University of Massachusetts Amherst geneticist Jacob Mayfield, students devised a technique for testing the consequence of variant human gene alleles by moving them into yeast cells. Once swapped into yeast, colony growth was be compared to reveal functional differences.

The technique was used to compare allelic differences in the Cystathionine-beta-synthase (CBS) gene, created by site-directed mutagenesis. Deficiencies in the gene causes homocystinuria which can be rescued by vitamin B6 treatments. However, only some individuals respond to vitamin B6 treatment while others do not. Using the yeast metabolic profiling technique, researchers were able to ascertain which individuals, (based on their CBS sequence), would respond to the B6 treatment and which would not.

Sounds like a winning program to me!

Citation: Mayfield JA, Davies MW, Dimster-Denk D, Pleskac N, McCarthy S, Boydston EA, Fink L, Lin XX, Narain AS, Meighan M, & Rine J (2012). Surrogate genetics and metabolic profiling for characterization of human disease alleles. Genetics, 190 (4), 1309-23 PMID: 22267502

Source: UMass

Bullying: It’s in your DNA

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-24-2012

In recent years, there have been an increasing amount of media reports of bullying in our schools. Studies have shown that negative effects associated with bullying including loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness. In a new report published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from Duke University have shown that bullying may have a much deeper impact on its victim than previously thought. According to the study, children who experience bullying have been found to have shortened telomeres, which in essence means that its impact reaches deep down into the DNA of its victims.

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CITATION: “Exposure to Violence During Childhood is Associated with Telomere Erosion from 5 to 10 Years of Age: A Longitudinal Study,” Idan Shalev, Terrie Moffitt et al. Molecular Psychiatry, April 24th. doi:10.1038/mp.2012.32

The FUNNIEST Science Video On The Web!

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-19-2012

This is by far one of the funniest scientific-genre videos on the web. You simply must watch.

One of my favourite lines from the video is when he explains that hundreds of pounds of beard hair sample is kept at -80C “not for preservation…just because I don’t like the smell!” What’s your favourite part?

Promiscuity promotes genetic diversity

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-17-2012

Interesting story out of Michigan State University. According to a study published in PLoS ONE, researchers have discovered that the Queen giant honey bee from honey bee colonies on Hainan Island, off the coast of China, maintain their genetic diversity by mating with over 100 males.

The island queens carry around 40 CSD alleles. Since they mate with nearly 100 males – each also harboring around 40 alleles – the high number of healthy genetic combinations keeps the gene pool diverse. By using natural selection to create healthy offspring, the bees perpetuate a healthy colony.

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The Love Drug Gene

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-10-2012

Researchers at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Irvine have shown that a person’s penchant for being kind may be more related to their genetic makeup than previously thought. According to lead author Michel Poulin, individuals with certain genetic forms of the Oxytocin receptor are more prone to pro-social activities such as the urge to give to charity, pay taxes, report crime, give blood or sit on juries.

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