Tag Archives: molecular mechanism

Earthquakes, Glue and Grappling Hooks: Scientists Dissect the Movement of Bacteria

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has discovered that microscopic bacteria have a lot in common with earthquakes — when it comes to their jolting movements.

In a new study published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists also report that a molecular “glue” produced by the bacteria to help them adhere to surfaces also acts as a sort of transportation lubricant, helping them move and organize into rudimentary social structures. These discoveries, they say, could lead to new ways to combat harmful microbes in the long term. (more…)

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New Key to Organism Complexity Identified

Berkeley Scientists Find that a Critical Transcription Factor Co-exists in Two Distinct States

The enormously diverse complexity seen amongst individual species within the animal kingdom evolved from a surprisingly small gene pool. For example, mice effectively serve as medical research models because humans and mice share 80-percent of the same protein-coding genes. The key to morphological and behavioral complexity, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests, is the regulation of gene expression by a family of DNA-binding proteins called “transcription factors.” Now, a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has discovered the secret behind how one these critical transcription factors is able to perform – a split personality. (more…)

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Why Some Pain Drugs Become Less Effective Over Time

Researchers at the University of Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital have identified how neural cells are able to build up resistance to opioid pain drugs within hours. “A better understanding of these mechanisms will enable us to design drugs that avoid body resistance to these drugs and produce longer therapeutic responses, including longer-acting opioid analgesics”, lead author Dr. Graciela Pineyro said.

Humans have known about the usefulness of opioids, which are often harvested from poppy plants, for centuries, but we have very little insight into how they lose their effectiveness in the hours, days and weeks following the first dose. “Our study revealed cellular and molecular mechanisms within our bodies that enable us to develop resistance to this medication, or what scientists call drug tolerance,” she added. (more…)

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Seed Size is Controlled by Maternally Produced Small Rnas, Scientists Find

AUSTIN, Texas — Seed size is controlled by small RNA molecules inherited from a plant’s mother, a discovery from scientists at The University of Texas at Austin that has implications for agriculture and understanding plant evolution.

“Crop seeds provide nearly 70 to 80 percent of calories and 60 to 70 percent of all proteins consumed by the human population,” said Z. Jeff Chen, the D.J. Sibley Centennial Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics at The University of Texas at Austin. “Seed production is obviously very important for agriculture and plant evolution.” (more…)

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Slow Snails, Fast Genes: Predatory Snails Refine Venoms Through Continuous Gene Duplication

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— When tropical marine cone snails sink their harpoon-like teeth into their prey, they inject paralyzing venoms made from a potent mix of more than 100 different neurotoxins.

Biologists have known for more than a decade that the genes which provide the recipes for cone snail toxins are among the fastest-evolving genes in the animal kingdom, enabling these predatory gastropods to constantly refine their venoms to more precisely target the neuromuscular systems of their prey. (more…)

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Diabetes Drug Shows Promise in Reducing Risk of Cancer

EAST LANSING, Mich. — An inexpensive drug that treats Type-2 diabetes has been shown to prevent a number of natural and man-made chemicals from stimulating the growth of breast cancer cells, according to a newly published study by a Michigan State University researcher.

The research, led by pediatrics professor James Trosko and colleagues from South Korea’s Seoul National University, provides biological evidence for previously reported epidemiological surveys that long-term use of the drug metformin for Type-2 diabetes reduces the risk of diabetes-associated cancers, such as breast cancers. (more…)

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Physicist Detects Movement of Macromolecules Engineered into Our Food

Toxin proteins are genetically engineered into our food because they kill insects by perforating body cell walls, and Professor Rikard Blunck of the University of Montreal’s Group for the study of membrane proteins (GÉPROM) has detected the molecular mechanism involved. In recognition of his breakthrough, he received the Traditional Paul F. Cranefield Award of the Society of General Physiologists yesterday evening. “This study is about gaining a better understanding of the basic functioning of the toxin proteins in order to judge the risks of using them as pesticides for our nutrition,” Dr. Blunck explained. (more…)

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Why Coffee Protects Against Diabetes

*Researchers discover molecular mechanism behind drink’s prophylactic effect*

Coffee, that morning elixir, may give us an early jump-start to the day, but numerous studies have shown that it also may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Yet no one has really understood why.

Now, researchers at UCLA have discovered a possible molecular mechanism behind coffee’s protective effect. A protein called sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, it turns out, increases plasma levels of SHBG.  (more…)

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