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dsRNA can turn off genes

By | October 23, 2000

RNA interference (RNAi) is an elegant technique in which double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can direct the degradation of homologous RNA species leading to post-transcriptional gene silencing. In the October 2 EMBO Journal Mette et al. extend dsRNA applications by showing that dsRNA corresponding to sequences from the nopaline synthase promoter (NOSpro) could disrupt transcriptional activation (EMBO Journal 2000, 19:5194-5201). The dsRNA trans-silencing was accompanied by induced methylation of the tar

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EU directive on clinical trials will cost lives

By | October 23, 2000

The volume of research conducted in Europe will be driven down dramatically and thousands of lives will be lost if a directive developed by the EU becomes law next year, warned leading UK research directors last week.

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Linked evolution

By | October 23, 2000

There is more variation in the rate of protein evolution than is expected by chance, although this variation is not caused by slower evolution of essential genes. In the 19 October Nature Williams and Hurst report that one determinant of evolution rates is gene position: the proteins of linked genes evolve at similar rates (Nature 2000, 407:900-903). The major cause of this phenomenon does not seem to be varying concentrations of mutation-sensitive CpG dinucleotides. The real cause may be the cl

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Mutating mice with oligos

By | October 23, 2000

The results reported by Vasquez et al. in the 20 October Science sound like a dream come true: the induction, after a simple injection of oligonucleotides into adult mice, of site-specific mutations (Science 2000, 290:530-533). The oligonucleotides are designed to form triple helices in polypurine regions with segments of mononucleotide repeats. The triple helix is thought to induce repair processes that often slip, producing short insertions or deletions near the site of the triple helix. Thus

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A study showing that one subunit of an ion channel protein 'fine-tunes' vasoregulation offers a new model for the molecular basis of hypertension.

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Hearts on night shift

October 19, 2000

Rigid circadian rhythms could explain the high incidence of heart disease among shift workers.

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October 19, 2000

Researchers have found a link between sight and sound that could improve awareness of neurological disorders.

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SNP genotyping with arrays

By | October 19, 2000

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are sequence variants in which two alternate bases occur at one position. The SNP Consortium is developing a dense map of SNPs in the hope that certain variants can be associated with disease states. With hundreds of thousands of SNPs identified, the scoring of these SNPs in patient populations has become the limiting factor. Hirschhorn et al. provide a possible solution in the October 24 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by making the existin

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Very old bugs

By | October 19, 2000

In the 19 October Nature Vreeland et al. report that the longevity record for bacteria has been smashed (Nature 2000, 407:897-900). The previous record holder was a Bacillus identified from the abdominal contents of a bee preserved in amber some 25 to 40 million years ago. The newly identified bacterium is also a Bacillus, but comes from a brine inclusion within a 250 million-year-old salt crystal. The crystal was found 569m below the surface, in the wall of an air-intake shaft of a waste isolat

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Daughters keep to themselves

By | October 18, 2000

In the 13 October Science Takizawa et al. use array analysis to identify a transmembrane protein that, combined with a septin barrier, may keep proteins in the daughter cells of budding yeast (Science 2000, 290:341-344). The messenger RNA for transcription factor Ash1p is already known to be transported to the bud tip of the daughter yeast cell by an actomyosin system; once the protein is translated in the daughter cell it represses mating-type switching. Takizawa et al. look for other transport

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