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History matters

By | November 28, 2000

A return to ancestral conditions can result in evolutionary reversal, but it is not inevitable.

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Minos mutagenesis

By | November 28, 2000

In the 15 November EMBO Reports Klinakis et al. describe a method for insertional mutagenesis and gene tagging that uses transposon-mediated mutagenesis (TRAMM) (EMBO Reports 2000, 1:416-421). They used two plasmid vectors, one encoding the Minos transposase enzyme from Drosophila hydrei and the other carrying a drug-resistance gene flanked by Minos inverted repeats. The naked DNA plasmids were transfected into human HeLa cells and about 4% of cells gave drug-resistant clones with multiple inser

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Raised haemoglobin levels linked to increased risk of stillbirth

By | November 28, 2000

High levels of haemoglobin during early pregnancy have been linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. Dr Olof Stephansson and colleagues from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute reviewed more than 700 women who had had a stillbirth. Those with haemoglobin levels of 146g/L or higher at their first antenatal appointment appeared to be almost twice as likely to have a stillbirth compared with women who had normal levels. This link seemed to be stronger still after adjusting for stillbirths that occur

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Green is go, red is stop

By | November 27, 2000

A mutant fluorescent protein that changes from green to red over time can indicate when transcription is turned on and off.

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Two for the price of one

By | November 27, 2000

The nuclear-encoded RNA polymerase RpoT;2 from Arabidopsis thaliana differs from the polymerases that transcribe the plant's nuclear genes and resembles RNA polymerases from bacteriophages. In the 15 November EMBO Reports, Hedtke et al. describe the use of GFP (green fluorescent protein) fusion proteins to examine the subcellular localization of RpoT;2 (EMBO Reports 2000, 1:435-440). The RpoT;2 transit peptide targeted GFP fusion proteins to both mitochondrial and chloroplast compartments in tob

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Coiled interactions

By | November 23, 2000

Two-hybrid assays are great for detecting protein-protein interactions, but they scale as the square of the number of candidate interactions. Screening every possible interaction in yeast would require examining approximately 3.6 x 107 pairs, which is why previous large-scale screens by Uetz et al. and Ito et al. have pooled libraries of constructs. In the November 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Newman et al. find that such approaches can miss a great number of valid interac

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Curing diabetes

By | November 23, 2000

The demand for insulin fluctuates with blood glucose levels, presenting a special challenge for would-be gene therapists. In the 23 November Nature, Lee et al. present their solution, which causes remission of autoimmune diabetes in mice for at least 8 months (Nature 2000, 408:483-488). A truncated insulin gene removes the need for proteolytic processing, a hepatocyte-specific, glucose-responsive promoter supplies the correct dosage, and an adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivers the necessary DNA

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FLiP-ing insulators

By | November 23, 2000

Insulators define independent genomic regions that are protected from the influence of distant regulatory sequences. In the 1 November EMBO Journal, Parnell and Geyer describe a novel application of the FLP recombinase to investigate the properties of two Drosophila insulators, called gypsy and scs (EMBO J 2000, 19:5864-5874). Neither insulator affected FLP recombination and protein-protein interactions at adjacent recombination sites, suggesting that gypsy and scs do not act by general inhibiti

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Non-invasive identification of foetal Down's syndrome

By | November 23, 2000

A preliminary study shows pre-natal detection of Down's syndrome from maternal blood.

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Online prescription drugs

November 23, 2000

A new website from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that many online pharmacies provide legitimate prescription services but that some questionable sites may make purchasing medicines online risky.On its website dedicated to this topic, the FDA highlights some of the problems associated with purchasing prescriptions online. These include sub-standard products; little or no quality control; possibility of an incorrect diagnosis by sites that inappropriately diagnose and prescribe o

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