Tag Archives: genetics

Epigenetics ‘leaks’ into trans-generational inheritance

One of the bigger and most important ‘debates’ in biology – both now and in the past – is whether adaptations made for the environment of a single individual can be inherited by its offspring. This is not about genetic inheritance, mutation, and the reproduction of the genes in DNA. This is about epigenetics, the […]
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lincRNA: A recently discovered RNA organizes stem cell differentiation

What makes a scientist’s heart go pitter-patter? Something like this: When the Broad team discovered more than 3,500 unique lincRNAs in the human and mouse genomes in 2009, “the potential was enormous, and we wanted to know what they could be doing.” [Source: Technology Review] Here’s the scenario: A team of researchers at the Broad […]
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Epigenetic memory: Another path for genetic inheritance

As we have all been schooled, DNA determines what is inherited. If it isn’t encoded in the genes, it won’t be passed on. Except it is becoming ever more apparent this isn’t completely true. There is another way that characteristics can be passed to the next generations; it’s called epigenetic memory. Or at least it’s […]
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Human genetics: The mysterious unequal mutation by sex

By the numbers, geneticists thought about mutations like this: There are six billion pieces (nucleotides) of genetic information in the genome. Three billion provided by the mother and three billion from the father. Based on evolutionary studies, previous estimates reckoned about 100-200 mutations would be passed on to each child. It was assumed that because […]
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Protein complexity could be our demise

Did you know that badly folded proteins could be the cause of our species’ destruction? Neither did I. I know about nuclear bombs, climate change, asteroid strike and even pandemic as possible doomsday scenarios. I’m aware of predictions that in the not too distant future mankind might be overpowered by or merge with artificial intelligence […]
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Part of what makes us human may be what’s missing

Here’s one of those scientific questions that contains a highly suggestive fact: Why is it that the tiny water flea (Daphnia pulex) has a record 31,000 genes and the human – the infinitely more complex human – has only 23,000 genes? Here’s another similar question: How is it that the human species is so different […]
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Reprogramming cells: The post stem cell future?

Sixth in a series of posts inspired by ten topics in ‘Insights of the Decade’ from the December 17, 2010 special issue of Science Magazine The topics are: Inflammation, climatology, tricks of light, alien planets, the microbiome, cell reprogramming, Martian water, the DNA time machine, cosmology and epigenetics. The original articles are now behind a […]
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Oh Daphnia, why so many genes?

Ms. Water flea, Daphnia pulex…..credit: Wiki Commons This equal sign, =, is about as big the known champion of the gene-filled genome. Little Daphnia pulex, variously labeled a crustacean (like shrimp) or ‘the water flea,’ is the first of its subphylum to have its genome sequenced. Lo and behold: Daphnia’s genome has more genes – […]
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Hoogsteen base pairs: An alternate structure in DNA

Reverse Hoogsteen base pairing…..Wikipedia Commons I know some of my biases. One of them is knee-jerk skepticism about taking little-tested scientific results and blowing them up to “…a cure for cancer” or “…revolutionize the electronics industry.” However, like most people I also have a bias to be curious about interesting, if somewhat unusual scientific findings. […]
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The microbiome: Our life in common with microorganisms

Fifth in a series of posts inspired by ten topics in ‘Insights of the Decade’ from the December 17, 2010 special issue of Science Magazine The topics are: Inflammation, climatology, tricks of light, alien planets, the microbiome, cell development, Martian water, the DNA time machine, cosmology and epigenetics. The original articles are now behind a […]
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