Posts Tagged ‘genetics’

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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New Layer of Genetic Information Discovered

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-28-2012

A hidden and never before recognized layer of information in the genetic code has been uncovered by a team of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) thanks to a technique developed at UCSF called ribosome profiling, which enables the measurement of gene activity inside living cells — including the speed with which proteins are made.

By measuring the rate of protein production in bacteria, the team discovered that slight genetic alterations could have a dramatic effect. This was true even for seemingly insignificant genetic changes known as “silent mutations,” which swap out a single DNA letter without changing the ultimate gene product. To their surprise, the scientists found these changes can slow the protein production process to one-tenth of its normal speed or less.

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Spliceman to the rescue

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-12-2012

In a brief paper in the journal Bioinformatics, Brown University researchers describe a new, freely available Web-based program called Spliceman for predicting whether genetic mutations are likely to disrupt the splicing of messenger RNA, potentially leading to disease.

“Spliceman takes a set of DNA sequences with point mutations and computes how likely these single nucleotide variants alter splicing phenotypes,” write co-authors Kian Huat Lim, a graduate student, and William Fairbrother, assistant professor of biology, in an “application note” published in advance online Feb. 10. It will appear in print in April.

Spliceman can be found at fairbrother.biomed.brown.edu/spliceman.

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New study suggests researchers may be discarding important RNA information

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 02-02-2012

Traditional RNA isolations kits and techniques usually isolate linear RNA transcripts while discarding circular material that are thought to be unimportant. However, a new study at the Stanford School of Medicine suggests that circular RNA may play a more important role in gene expression than previously thought.

In the classical model of gene expression, the genetic script encoded in our genomes is expressed in each cell in the form of RNA molecules, each consisting of a linear string of chemical “bases”. It may be time to revise this traditional understanding of human gene expression, as new research suggests that circular RNA molecules, rather than the classical linear molecules, are a widespread feature of the gene expression program in every human cell. The results are published in the Feb. 1 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

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