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Bacterial networking

By | November 19, 2001

Conjugation has classically been considered a bacterium-to-bacterium DNA transfer driven by the donor cell and is typically plasmid-encoded. Theoretically it is possible that any type of cell can serve as the recipient. In December Nature Genetics, Virginia Waters from the University of California, San Diego shows the first evidence for bacterial conjugation to mammalian cells.Waters used the RK2 'shuttle vector' plasmid system to determine if Escherichia coli can transfer a fluorescent DNA sign

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Genetic protection from axon injury

By | November 19, 2001

Axons and their synapses distal to the site of an injury undergo rapid degeneration, but axons in the mutant C57BL/WldS mouse are protected by a mechanism that remains unclear. In December Nature Neuroscience Till Mack and colleagues from University of Cologne, Germany, identified the Wld gene and the mutant protein involved in protecting the nerve fibers of these mice from degeneration.Mack et al. found that the protection in C57BL/WldS mice is due to a Ube4b/Nmnat chimeric gene that encodes an

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Resistance to vCJD

By | November 19, 2001

The Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a much-publicized prion disease that is linked to infection with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) prions and is distinct from sporadic or inherited CJD forms. In the November 15 Nature, Graham Jackson and colleagues report that resistance to vCJD is associated with a particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type (Nature 2001, 414:269-270).They compared the HLA types of vCJD sufferers, sporadic CJD patients and unaffected individuals; they typ

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Genetics of social behaviour

By | November 16, 2001

Social behaviour can be pretty complex at the best of times, and defining the underlying genetic events has provided a formidable challenge. In the November 15 Sciencexpress, Michael Krieger and Kenneth Ross, from the University of Georgia, describe the first clear example of a single gene affecting complex social behaviour (ScienceXpress 10.1126/science.1065247).Colony queen number in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta is associated with variations in the Gp-9 gene, such that worker ants with the

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The fluid structure of Golgi

By | November 16, 2001

The intracellular Golgi apparatus was believed to be a fixed structure that processed proteins for secretion in an assembly-line fashion. But two papers in November 12 Journal of Cell Biology, show that the entire Golgi apparatus is a dynamic structure and suggest that most, if not all, Golgi protein elements cycle through endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in interphase cells.Suzanne Miles and colleagues at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, US, compared the effect of protein inhibition and ER exit blocking on

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Human endogenous retroviruses

By | November 15, 2001

Our genomes are scattered with large numbers of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs), presumed left-overs from early retroviral infections. In the Advanced Online Publication of Nature Genetics, Jennifer Hughes and John Coffin, from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, describe 23 new members of the HERV-K (HML-2) group of sequences and examine their rearrangement during evolution (Nature Gen 2001, DOI: 10.1038/ng775).They analysed the 5' and 3' LTR sequences of 35 provirus HERV-K

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Mus81 is a eukaryotic resolvase

By | November 15, 2001

Mus81, a fission yeast protein related to a repair endonuclease, enables chromosomes to cross over during meiosis.

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National Collaboration on Ageing launched

By | November 15, 2001

A conference in Birmingham, UK sets out a model of how disparate agencies can be brought together to focus their efforts more efficiently.

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Endogenous cannabinoids could treat multiple sclerosis

By | November 14, 2001

Cannabinoid research could circumvent the economic debate over the use of beta interferon in the treatment of MS.

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Genomic workout in Parkinson disease

By | November 14, 2001

Idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative condition in which the involvement of genes and the environment is still controversial. Two papers in November 14 JAMA from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, US suggest that the parkin gene is important in early-onset PD and that multiple genetic factors are important in the development of late-onset PD. Scott et al. performed a complete genomic screening in 174 families (870 individuals) with multiple individuals diagnosed as having

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