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The rewards of a good joke

By | February 26, 2001

Separate systems in the brain underlie the cognitive processing of different types of joke, whereas the pleasurable effect associated with 'getting' a joke involves shared circuitry known to process rewards.

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Editing the immune system

By | February 23, 2001

B lymphocytes that produce antibodies recognizing self antigens are tolerized by a process of clonal selection, which involves clonal deletion, anergy and a gene-recombination event called receptor editing. In the February 23 Science, Casellas et al. describe a model mouse system for investigating the importance of receptor editing (Science 2001, 291:1541-1544). They generated a polymorphic immunoglobulin kappa allele by replacing the mouse kappa constant (mCkappa) region with the human sequenc

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Germany's biotechnology industry takes off

By | February 23, 2001

The German government has just announced a $425 million, three-year genome research funding program. This type of government support, and the revision of federal laws are promoting a growth spurt in the German biotechnology industry.

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Protein coding by both DNA strands

By | February 23, 2001

gene encode protein, overturning a fundamental doctrine of molecular biology and suggesting another possibility for genomic analysis.

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Decay in the leprosy genome

By | February 22, 2001

Leprosy, which has been described since biblical times, is caused by the obligate intracellular pathogen Mycobacterium leprae. In the February 22 Nature, Cole et al. report the sequencing of the entire M. leprae genome (Nature 2001, 409:1007-1011). Pairwise comparison with the genome sequence of the closely related M. tuberculosis revealed that the M. leprae genome has undergone considerable reduction during evolution. The 3.27 megabase M. leprae genome contains less than half the number of g

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massive for research too?

By | February 22, 2001

. The decay of its genome mirrors an unfortunate collapse in interest in leprosy research, while disease incidence stays stubbornly high.

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Cloning big sheep

By | February 21, 2001

Cloning and in vitro culture of sheep embryos have been associated with bigger livestock and 'large offspring syndrome' (LOS). In the February Nature Genetics Young et al. provide a molecular explanation for the observed fetal overgrowth (Nat Genet 2001, 27:153-154). They developed a culture system that consistently results in large offspring (LO) in 25% of births. Young et al. measured the levels of several imprinted genes that are associated with fetal overgrowth syndromes in man. The levels o

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Mitochondrial mutation associated with hearing loss

By | February 21, 2001

The identification of alleles associated with complex hearing defects, such as presbyacusis (age-related hearing loss, AHL), presents a formidable challenge to geneticists. In the February Nature Genetics Johnson et al. describe their use of elegant mouse breeding experiments to identify the first example of a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutation that acts as a modifier of a nuclear AHL locus (Nat Genet 2001, 27:191-194). They performed a series of reciprocal backcrosses between three hearing-impa

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Neurogenin works in two ways

By | February 21, 2001

The transcription factor neurogenin induces neurogenesis and inhibits the differentiation of neural stem cells into astrocytes using distinct mechanisms.

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The joint gene

By | February 21, 2001

The locations at which joints arise during foetal development are essential for determining the final skeletal pattern and are also strongly implicated in a number of joint diseases. At present little is known about the complicated molecular mechanisms involved in joint formation. In the February Cell, researchers from the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School suggest that Wnt-14 is essential in the initial steps of joint formation.Christine Hartmann and Clifford Tabin studied the early

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