An international team of biologists has discovered how specialized enzymes remodel the extremely condensed genetic material in the nucleus of cells in order to control which genes can be used. It was known that the DNA in cells is wrapped around proteins in structures called nucleosomes that resemble beads on a string, which allow the genetic material to be folded and compacted into a structure called chromatin.
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de Dieuleveult, M., Yen, K., Hmitou, I., Depaux, A., Boussouar, F., Dargham, D., Jounier, S., Humbertclaude, H., Ribierre, F., Baulard, C.... (2016) Genome-wide nucleosome specificity and function of chromatin remodellers in ES cells. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature16505
Think about the last time you stood squinting in front of a full-length mirror, trying to decide whether the colors in your outfit went together. Now imagine you're a reptile, and you wouldn't even understand a mirror if you saw one, but somehow you need to find a rock that matches your skin color. Otherwise you might get eaten by a bird today. Oh, and the skin color you need to match is on your back.
Certain lizards in Greece manage to pull this off every day, though how they do it is a ... Read more »
Marshall, K., Philpot, K., & Stevens, M. (2016) Microhabitat choice in island lizards enhances camouflage against avian predators. Scientific Reports, 19815. DOI: 10.1038/srep19815
Pedestrians feel safer while walking, if the streets are illuminated with white light.
Researchers from the University of Granada surveyed 275 pedestrians in “nocturnal urban environment”, i.e. participants of the study were given a test after walking in illuminated streets in a city.
Researchers were trying to know the thoughts of pedestrians about different kinds of public lights on streets, i.e. color of lig........ Read more »
Peña-García, A., Hurtado, A., & Aguilar-Luzón, M. (2015) Impact of public lighting on pedestrians’ perception of safety and well-being. Safety Science, 142-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2015.04.009
I often blog about viruses because, well, I work on viruses. Here's a quick summary of things I've blogged about that I find absolutely mind-blowing:1. About 10% of the human genome is made of genes we inherited from viruses that had replicated in our ancestors millions of years ago. 2. Viruses evolve as their hosts evolve (The Red Queen Effect), and in fact we can retrace their evolution in parallel with that of their hosts. The same is true within a single host, enabling us to retrace the evol........ Read more »
Lee, Y., & Bieniasz, P. (2007) Reconstitution of an Infectious Human Endogenous Retrovirus. PLoS Pathogens, 3(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.0030010
A commentary in Nature proposes a complete overhaul of how we treat our wastewater. Among the benefits would be new energy-producing industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions!... Read more »
Emotions can easily move down from mother to her daughter, i.e. daughters have more chances of getting from their mother a brain structure that is involved in emotion, especially depression.
Journal of Neuroscience
Researchers from University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) studied the brains of 35 families by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They found that the corticolimbic system, a structure of the brain circuitry, can........ Read more »
Yamagata, B., Murayama, K., Black, J., Hancock, R., Mimura, M., Yang, T., Reiss, A., & Hoeft, F. (2016) Female-Specific Intergenerational Transmission Patterns of the Human Corticolimbic Circuitry. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(4), 1254-1260. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4974-14.2016
It’s a basic tenet of the reptile theory that you want to frighten your jurors to make them vote for your client in deliberation. [The ABA has put out an open-access primer on the reptile theory and you can see that here.] It is also been shown repeatedly that conservatives are more fearful than liberals, […]
The evidence is mounting: The brains of liberals and conservatives differ
Are conservatives happier than liberals? Research says: No.
Mean-spirited blog comments........ Read more »
Van de Vyver, J., Houston, D., Abrams, D., & Vasiljevic, M. (2015) Boosting Belligerence: How the July 7, 2005, London Bombings Affected Liberals Moral Foundations and Prejudice. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615615584
Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome was initially described as a heritable dermatological condition based on the presence of multiple fibrofolliculomas, trichodiscomas and acrochordons in a Canadian kindred (Birt et al., 1977). Now it is known that BHD patients can also develop pulmonary cysts, with an associated risk of pneumothorax, and bilateral, multifocal renal tumours. Due to the risk of tumour development it is important that patients are diagnosed early, enabling them to access regular ........ Read more »
People who score highly in the Dark Triad personality traits – narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism – are vain, selfish, callous and manipulative. They're not the kind of people you want to spend much time with. This raises the obvious question – to put it bluntly, why over evolutionary timescales haven't these people died out? One possibility is that their traits actually confer short-term advantages in the mating game. Dark Triad people are obnoxious once you get to know them, su........ Read more »
Jauk, E., Neubauer, A., Mairunteregger, T., Pemp, S., Sieber, K., & Rauthmann, J. (2016) How Alluring Are Dark Personalities? The Dark Triad and Attractiveness in Speed Dating. European Journal of Personality. DOI: 10.1002/per.2040
I don't enjoy talking about mortality and autism on this blog but once again I'm drawn to discuss this important topic based on some recent findings published by Diana Schendel and colleagues . I say these are important findings on the basis of how researchers took into account the possible role played by psychiatric and neurological comorbidity occurring alongside autism when it comes to the quite alarming mortality statistics.Drawing on the findings reported in their paper and an interview ........ Read more »
Schendel, D., Overgaard, M., Christensen, J., Hjort, L., Jørgensen, M., Vestergaard, M., & Parner, E. (2016) Association of Psychiatric and Neurologic Comorbidity With Mortality Among Persons With Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Danish Population. JAMA Pediatrics, 1. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3935
Able to strip a tree in mere hours, leaf cutter ants are both marvels of nature and formidable pests. And that’s why researchers at University of Oregon decided to take a closer look. Armed with several cameras, the team captured never-before seen footage proving that these critters have an amazing set of skills.... Read more »
Garrett, R., Carlson, K., Goggans, M., Nesson, M., Shepard, C., & Schofield, R. (2016) Leaf processing behaviour in leafcutter ants: 90% of leaf cutting takes place inside the nest, and ants select pieces that require less cutting . Royal Society Open Science, 3(1), 150111. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150111
Immunotherapy to ameliorate neurodegeneration by targeting brain protein aggregates with antibodies is an area of intense investigation. A new study examines seemingly contradictory earlier results of targeting the prion protein and proposes a cautionary way forward to further test related therapeutic approaches.
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Reimann, R., Sonati, T., Hornemann, S., Herrmann, U., Arand, M., Hawke, S., & Aguzzi, A. (2016) Differential Toxicity of Antibodies to the Prion Protein. PLOS Pathogens, 12(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005401
Escherichia coli is a two-faced little slimeball.As is often the case with bacteria, it comes in many varieties. Some, such as the infamous O157:H7 serotype, can make people very ill. Once inside us (usually via contaminated food or water), they do harmful things like pump out toxins and feast upon the walls of our intestines. We're talking lots of bloody diarrhea.Yet other strains of E. coli have done us a lot of good. For decades now, research laboratories have been using strain K12 and i........ Read more »
Toloza L, Giménez R, Fábrega MJ, Alvarez CS, Aguilera L, Cañas MA, Martín-Venegas R, Badia J, & Baldomà L. (2015) The secreted autotransporter toxin (Sat) does not act as a virulence factor in the probiotic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917. BMC Microbiology, 250. PMID: 26518156
We all have neighbors who help us in our hour of need. Some go out of the way as well. In enzymes too, it seems, that neighbors play a crucial role. Lafond et al in their recent publication in the Journal of Biological Chemistry report the invovlement of neighboring chains of the same enzyme, lichenase. Apart from the role of stabilizing the quarternary structure (a trimer), they are also invovled in the enzymatic activity.... Read more »
Lafond M, Sulzenbacher G, Freyd T, Henrissat B, Berrin JG, & Garron ML. (2016) the quaternary structure of a glycoside hydrolase dictates specificity towards beta-glucans. The Journal of biological chemistry. PMID: 26755730
Students of political sciences show higher level of overconfidence, whereas students from humanities are on the inverse side.
In a study, researchers from the University of St. Gallen and the University of Zurich in Switzerland surveyed over 700 first-year students. They also asked them to go through various experiments during a session lasting about an hour and a half. In the experiments, there was a simple task of guessing the ye........ Read more »
One criticism levelled at positive psychology is that it takes an overly Western-centric view of the lighter side of human experience. Addressing that problem, Tim Lomas at the University of East London has begun a deep investigation into all the non-English words for positive emotions and concepts that don't have a direct translation in English.Publishing his initial findings in the The Journal of Positive Psychology, Lomas' hope is not only that we might learn more about the positive psyc........ Read more »
Lomas, T. (2016) Towards a positive cross-cultural lexicography: Enriching our emotional landscape through 216 ‘untranslatable’ words pertaining to well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1127993
Meat industry is responsible for irreversible environmental damages, from deforestation to water shortage.... Read more »
Herrero, M., Havlik, P., Valin, H., Notenbaert, A., Rufino, M., Thornton, P., Blummel, M., Weiss, F., Grace, D., & Obersteiner, M. (2013) Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(52), 20888-20893. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308149110
White, D., Zhao, S., Sudler, R., Ayers, S., Friedman, S., Chen, S., McDermott, P., McDermott, S., Wagner, D., & Meng, J. (2001) The Isolation of Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella from Retail Ground Meats. New England Journal of Medicine, 345(16), 1147-1154. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa010315
Tilman, D., Cassman, K., Matson, P., Naylor, R., & Polasky, S. (2002) Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices. Nature, 418(6898), 671-677. DOI: 10.1038/nature01014
Donovan, C. (2015) If FDA Does Not Regulate Food, Who Will? A Study of Hormones and Antibiotics in Meat Production. American Journal of Law , 41(2-3), 459-482. DOI: 10.1177/0098858815591528
Consider this post an extension of a previous discussion thread (see here) continuing the voyage of developing "International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF; and Children and Youth version, ICF(-CY)) Core Sets for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)."This time around it is another paper by Elles de Schipper and colleagues  (open-access available here) providing the blogging fodder and specifically the stage two of their four stage project building up those core sets........ Read more »
de Schipper E, Mahdi S, de Vries P, Granlund M, Holtmann M, Karande S, Almodayfer O, Shulman C, Tonge B, Wong VV.... (2016) Functioning and disability in autism spectrum disorder: A worldwide survey of experts. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 26749373
For the next couple of months, Jeffrey Peacock is visiting Moffitt. He’s a 4th year medical student at the University of Central Florida with a background in microbiology and genetic engineering of bacteria and yeast. Together with Andriy Marusyk and Jacob Scott, he will move to human cells and run some in vitro experiments with […]... Read more »
Archetti, M., Ferraro, D.A., & Christofori, G. (2015) Heterogeneity for IGF-II production maintained by public goods dynamics in neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(6), 1833-8. PMID: 25624490
I remember years ago being required to write math problems containing unnecessary information so that students would have to choose the information that they needed. But just making kids do something is not the same thing as teaching them something. It is, rather, a total cave to assessment obsession—we just found a way to call assessment "instruction".... Read more »
Merkley, R., Thompson, J., & Scerif, G. (2016) Of Huge Mice and Tiny Elephants: Exploring the Relationship Between Inhibitory Processes and Preschool Math Skills. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01903
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