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Fruit Flies Help Scientists Uncover Genes Responsible for Human Communication

June 26, 2014 12:46 pm | News | Comments

The genes involved in learning language skills are far from completely understood. Now, using a gene identified in fruit flies by a University of Missouri researcher, scientists involved in a global consortium have discovered a crucial component of the origin of language in humans.

Brewing Yeasts Reveal Secrets of Chromosomal Warfare and Dysfunction

June 25, 2014 2:13 pm | News | Comments

Using two yeasts that have been used to brew tea and beer for centuries, researchers have revealed how reproductive barriers might rapidly arise to create species boundaries. A team of researchers led by Dr. Sarah Zanders of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, has uncovered why hybrids between the two yeasts (commonly referred to as fission yeasts) are almost completely sterile despite being 99.5 percent identical at the DNA level.

Gene in Brain Linked to Kidney Cancer

June 25, 2014 12:54 pm | Videos | Comments

A gene known to control brain growth and development is heavily involved in promoting clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer, researchers are reporting.                    

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Scientists Use X-rays to Look at How DNA Protects Itself from UV Light

June 24, 2014 1:37 pm | News | Comments

The molecular building blocks that make up DNA absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them—yet it does not. Now scientists have made detailed observations of a “relaxation response” that protects these molecules, and the genetic information they encode, from UV damage.

Schizophrenia and Cannabis Use May Share Common Genes

June 24, 2014 12:44 pm | News | Comments

Genes that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia may also increase the likelihood of using cannabis, according to a new study. Previous studies identified a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia, but it has remained unclear whether this association is due to cannabis directly increasing the risk of the disorder. The new results suggest that part of this association is due to common genes.

Researchers Find Gene Critical for Development of Brain Motor Center

June 23, 2014 3:05 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers describe the role of a specific gene, called Snf2h, in the development of the cerebellum. Snf2h is required for the proper development of a healthy cerebellum, a master control centre in the brain for balance, fine motor control and complex physical movements.

Scientists Break the Genetic Code for Diabetes in Greenland

June 19, 2014 3:35 pm | Videos | Comments

A piece of detective work has mapped a special gene variant among Greenlanders that plays a particularly important role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The results can be used to improve prevention and treatment options for those genetically at-risk.

Genomic "Dark Matter" of Embryonic Lungs Controls Proper Development of Airways

June 19, 2014 3:11 pm | News | Comments

It’s a long way from DNA to RNA to protein, and only about two percent of a person’s genome is eventually converted into proteins. In contrast, a much higher percentage of the genome is transcribed into RNA. What these non-protein-coding RNAs do is still relatively unknown. However, given their vast numbers in the human genome, researchers believe that they likely play important roles in normal human development and response to disease.

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Broken Gene Found to Protect Against Heart Disease

June 19, 2014 2:41 pm | News | Comments

By scouring the DNA of thousands of patients, researchers have discovered four rare gene mutations that not only lower the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, but also significantly reduce a person’s risk of coronary heart disease—dropping it by 40 percent. The mutations all cripple the same gene, called APOC3, suggesting a powerful strategy in developing new drugs against heart disease.

Scientists Pinpoint How Genetic Mutation Causes Early Brain Damage

June 19, 2014 9:32 am | News | Comments

Scientists have shed light on how a specific kind of genetic mutation can cause damage during early brain development that results in lifelong learning and behavioral disabilities. The work suggests new possibilities for therapeutic intervention.

Study Links APC Gene to Learning and Autistic-like Disabilities

June 17, 2014 1:31 pm | News | Comments

Autistic-like behaviors and decreased cognitive ability may be associated with disruption of the function of the Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) gene. When Tufts researchers deleted the gene from select neurons in the developing mouse brain, the mice showed reduced social behavior, increased repetitive behavior, and impaired learning and memory formation, similar to behaviors seen in individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.

A Virus Reveals the Physics of Nanopores

June 17, 2014 1:19 pm | News | Comments

Nanopores may one day lead a revolution in DNA sequencing. By sliding DNA molecules one at a time through tiny holes in a thin membrane, it may be possible to decode long stretches of DNA at lightning speeds. Scientists, however, haven’t quite figured out the physics of how polymer strands like DNA interact with nanopores. Now, with the help of a particular type of virus, researchers have shed new light on this nanoscale physics.

Breaking News: Genes Determine Betting Behavior

June 16, 2014 3:00 pm | News | Comments

Investors and gamblers take note: your betting decisions and strategy are determined, in part, by your genes. Researchers have shown that betting decisions are influenced by the specific variants of dopamine-regulating genes in a person's brain. 

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Protein Anchors Help Keep Embryonic Development “Just Right”

June 16, 2014 2:31 pm | News | Comments

The “Goldilocks effect” in fruit fly embryos may be more intricate than previously thought. It’s been known that specific proteins, called histones, must exist within a certain range—if there are too few, a fruit fly’s DNA is damaged; if there are too many, the cell dies. Now research out of the University of Rochester shows that different types of histone proteins also need to exist in specific proportions.

Severe Scoliosis Linked to Rare Gene Mutations

June 16, 2014 2:29 pm | News | Comments

Children with rare mutations in two genes are about four times more likely to develop severe scoliosis than their peers with normal versions of the genes, scientists have found.                      

Scientists Find Trigger to Decode the Genome

June 13, 2014 1:42 pm | News | Comments

Scientists from The University of Manchester have identified an important trigger that dictates how cells change their identity and gain specialized functions. And the research has brought them a step closer to being able to decode the genome.

ADHD Mothers More Likely to Have Children with ADHD, Autism

June 13, 2014 12:29 pm | News | Comments

A study breaks new ground in the understanding of the link between parents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).                  

American Chemical Society’s Highest Honor Goes to Pioneer of Diagnostic ‘DNA Chips’

June 12, 2014 1:31 pm | News | Comments

Jacqueline K. Barton, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chair of the division of chemistry and chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, has been named winner of the 2015 Priestley Medal by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The award recognizes Barton’s pioneering work to deepen the fundamental understanding of charge transport through DNA.

Scientists Wipe Out Malaria-carrying Mosquitoes in Lab with Male-only Offspring

June 11, 2014 2:18 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have tested a new genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes that bite and pass the disease to humans are no longer produced.

Researchers Discover New Form of Cancer

June 11, 2014 2:01 pm | Videos | Comments

By themselves, PAX3 and MAML3 don’t cause any problems. However, when they combine during an abnormal but recurring chromosomal mismatch, they can be dangerous. The result is a chimera—a gene that is half of each—and that causes biphenotypic sinonasal sarcoma. The tumor usually begins in the nose and may infiltrate the rest of the face, requiring disfiguring surgery to save the individual.

DNA-Linked Nanoparticles Form Switchable "Thin Films" on a Liquid Surface

June 11, 2014 12:03 pm | News | Comments

A new study also offers insight into the mechanism of interactions of nanoparticles and DNA molecules near a lipid membrane. This understanding could inform the emerging use of nanoparticles as vehicles for delivering genes across cellular membranes.

Sequencing of Citrus Genomes Points to Need for More Genetic Diversity to Fight Disease

June 9, 2014 2:37 pm | News | Comments

Sequencing the genomes of domesticated citrus revealed a very limited genetic diversity that could threaten the crop’s survival prospects, according to a research team that analyzed and compared the genome sequences of 10 diverse citrus varieties. The findings provide insight of how citrus has been cultivated and point to how genomics-guided development could help produce crops that better resist environmental stresses and pests.

Phaseolus Genome Lends Insights into Nitrogen Fixation

June 9, 2014 2:25 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science has targeted research into the common bean because of its importance in enhancing nitrogen use efficiency for sustainability of bioenergy crops, and for increasing plant resilience and productivity with fewer inputs, on marginal lands, and in the face of the changing climate and environment.

Researchers Pinpoint New Role for Enzyme in DNA Repair

June 9, 2014 1:23 pm | News | Comments

Twelve years ago, researchers found that a protein called Set2 plays a role in how yeast genes are expressed– specifically how DNA gets transcribed into messenger RNA. Now, it has been discovered that Set2 is also a major player in DNA repair, a complicated and crucial process that can lead to the development of cancer cells.

Longer Telomeres Linked to Brain Cancer Risk

June 9, 2014 1:12 pm | News | Comments

New genomic research revealed that two common gene variants that lead to longer telomeres, the caps on chromosome ends thought by many scientists to confer health by protecting cells from aging, also significantly increase the risk of developing the deadly brain cancers known as gliomas.

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