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Variant of the RANTES cytokine associated with asthma

By | December 12, 2000

A polymorphism within the promoter region of the RANTES chemokine gene is associated with an increased risk of asthma and atopy.

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Disturbed cerebral venous flow can cause amnesia

By | December 11, 2000

Retrograde venous flows in the internal jugular veins during strain are associated with transient global amnesia (TGA), Sander et al report in the 9 December Lancet (Lancet 2000 356:1983-1984). The retrograde flow leads to venous ischaemia and metabolic alterations to bilateral diencephalic or hipocampal structures.Dr Sander and colleagues from the University of Munich examined the blood flow of internal jugular veins in 21 patients with TGA and 21 matched controls. Using duplex ultrasonography

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DNA repair within nucleosomes

By | December 11, 2000

DNA lesions are repaired by a cut-and-remove process called nucleotide excision repair. An in vitro biochemically defined system has been developed in which six repair factors are sufficient to excise damage from naked DNA. In the December Molecular and Cellular Biology, Hara et al. use this system to examine the effect of DNA organization into nucleosome structures on the DNA repair process (Mol Cell Biol 2000, 20:9173-9181). A nucleosome structure was assembled by mixing human histone protein

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Slimy catenins

By | December 11, 2000

A slime mold, like metazoans, has a beta-catenin involved both in signaling and in forming adherens junctions.

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HOUSTON A variety of motives are behind several recent drug company announcements of donations of HIV/AIDS drugs to African countries. Certainly, something needs to be done to control existing cases of HIV/AIDS, in addition to the lifestyle changes that would reduce the number of new AIDS cases. By the end of this year, 36.1 million people will be living with HIV or AIDS, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).WHO and UNAIDS res

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Sequence-specific drugs

By | December 8, 2000

The mechanism by which heterochromatin mediates the epigenetic gene-silencing events that cause position effect variation (PEV) is not understood. Two articles in the November Molecular Cell from Janssen and colleagues explore the role of repetitive heterochromatin sequences in PEV (Mol Cell 2000, 6:999-1011 and 1013-1024). In the first article, Janssen et al. describe the development of satellite-specific DNA minor groove binding drugs containing pyrrole and imidazole amino acids (polyamides).

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Signaling for survival

By | December 8, 2000

Rhodopsin is essential for photoreceptor survival. In the 8 December Science Chang and Ready report that rhodopsin's essential function is to organize actin and thus direct the photoreceptor's morphogenesis (Science 2000, 290:1978-1980). An actin structure separates the photosensitive rhabdomere membranes from the rest of the cell; without this structure the cell collapses in on itself. Chang and Ready find that a dominant-negative Drosophila Rho guanosine triphosphatase, Drac1, mimics these deg

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Benefits from beta-blockers after heart attacks

By | December 7, 2000

Results from a computer simulation indicate that increased use of beta-blockers after a first myocardial infarction (MI) would lead to impressive gains in health and would be potentially cost saving.Kathryn Phillips and colleagues from the Institute of Health Policies Studies at the University of California used a computer simulation Markov model of coronary heart disease in the US population. In a study published in 6 December Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2000 284:2748-2754

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Gypsy at the periphery

By | December 7, 2000

Chromatin insulators protect genomic domains from chromosomal position effects and from enhancer activation, but the mechanisms by which the insulators function are largely unknown. In the November Molecular Cell Gerasimova et al. provide insights by analyzing the behavior of the gypsy insulator in diploid interphasic cells from Drosophila imaginal disks (Mol Cell 2000, 6:1025-1035). They employed three-dimensional constructions of immunofluorescence microscopy images to investigate the nuclear

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Tracking human origins

By | December 7, 2000

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is ideal for evolutionary analysis because of lack of recombination, a high substitution rate, and maternal inheritance. Previous analyses have been limited to short stretches of mtDNA, but in the 7 December Nature Ingman et al. present results based on complete mtDNA sequences of 53 humans of diverse origins (Nature 2000, 408:708-713). The greater detail allows the derivation of a phylogenetic tree for the sequences. Two pieces of data (the genetic distance between hum

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