Illustration of pink and blue DNA molecules.
Historic Adaptations May Now Make Us Susceptible to Disease
Researchers made the find using an algorithm that purportedly distinguishes between mutations that were selected for and those that came along for the ride by coincidence, a feat that has long eluded scientists.
Historic Adaptations May Now Make Us Susceptible to Disease
Historic Adaptations May Now Make Us Susceptible to Disease

Researchers made the find using an algorithm that purportedly distinguishes between mutations that were selected for and those that came along for the ride by coincidence, a feat that has long eluded scientists.

Researchers made the find using an algorithm that purportedly distinguishes between mutations that were selected for and those that came along for the ride by coincidence, a feat that has long eluded scientists.

mutation
Illustration of a human and Neanderthal skull side by side.
Mutation Linked to Difference Between Human and Neanderthal Brains
Dan Robitzski | Sep 9, 2022
A single amino acid substitution in a protein causes increased neuron production in the frontal lobes of humans compared to Neanderthals—a tiny difference that could have given our species a cognitive edge, researchers say.
Brown coral in shallow water branching upward with blue fish in front. 
Corals Upend Longstanding Idea About Genetic Inheritance
Natalia Mesa | Sep 1, 2022
Most animals can’t pass on mutations that arise spontaneously throughout their lives—but Elkhorn corals can.
The Mosaic Brain
Sejal Davla, PhD
How somatic mutations cause brain diseases
To flag neurons that have experienced genotoxic stress, researchers developed an in vivo sensor using an adeno-associated viral vector, called PRISM. Because a cell’s DNA damage response (DDR)—which activates in response to stressors such as environmental toxins or the buildup of misfolded proteins—also responds to invading pathogens, PRISM has an easier time transfecting cells whose damage response mechanisms are preoccupied with existing DNA damage. Once inside, the virus hijacks the neuron’s DNA replication machinery, which reverts an engineered frameshift mutation in the virus and thereby prompts the production of a fluorescent protein that can be observed via microscopy.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.
Broken DNA
DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new tool called PRISM draws on virus-host interactions and a DNA repair pathway to help researchers visualize how cellular stress may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
The Scientist Speaks Ep. 16 - At the Breaking Point: Mitochondrial Deletions and the Brain
The Scientist Creative Services Team
Researchers characterize large mitochondrial deletions to understand their implications in neurological disorders.
Artist’s rendition of a blue-green DNA double helix, viewed lengthwise from within one end.
Stem Cell Lines Riddled With Undetected Mutations
Dan Robitzski | Aug 12, 2022
Most of the human induced pluripotent stem cells stored at major cell line repositories and used in research harbor thousands of DNA errors, a study finds, highlighting the need for improved quality control measures.
Artist&rsquo;s rendition of multiple <em>Neisseria gonorrhoeae</em>, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea, depicted as two spheres stuck together, each covered in tendrils.
Gonorrhea-Blocking Mutation Also Protects Against Alzheimer’s: Study
Holly Barker | Aug 5, 2022
Research traces the evolution of a gene variant that reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, finding that it originally evolved in response to infectious bacteria.
Mining Coding Regions with Whole-Exome Sequencing
The Scientist Creative Services Team
Multiple next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques offer insights into health and disease.
multicolor DNA sequencing gel
Genetic Mutations Can Be Benign or Cancerous—a New Method to Differentiate Between Them Could Lead to Better Treatments
Ryan Layer, The Conversation | May 27, 2022
Tumors contain thousands of genetic changes, but only a few are actually cancer-causing. A quicker way to identify these driver mutations could lead to more targeted cancer treatments.
Illustration of light blue speckled DNA helix on a dark background
Study Nearly Doubles Known Cancer-Linked Mutational Signatures
Jef Akst | Apr 22, 2022
Analyzing the whole genome sequences of more than 18,000 tumors, researchers catalog nearly 60 new patterns of mutations that could inform cancer treatment.
Microscopy image showing patches of magenta and green
Three Autism-Linked Genes Converge on Tweaks to Cells’ Timing
Angie Voyles Askham, Spectrum | Feb 3, 2022
The genes are involved in pacing the development of inhibitory and excitatory neurons. An imbalance in these two types of signaling is thought to play a role in autism.
A close-up image of pale green seeds inside of a green capsule taken by a scanning electron microscope
Essential Genes Protected from Mutations
Dan Robitzski | Jan 25, 2022
Epigenetic structures appear to reduce the rate of changes in genes essential for survival and reproduction, a study finds, challenging the notion that mutations are evenly distributed throughout the genome prior to selection.
Rapid antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2
Are Rapid Tests Worse at Detecting Omicron—and Does It Matter?
Catherine Offord | Jan 14, 2022
Anecdotal reports and results from small studies on the diagnostics’ accuracy have prompted questions about the devices’ usage with the new variant, but researchers say more data are needed and emphasize the continued importance of SARS-CoV-2 testing.
two quails
Chromosomal Rearrangement Linked to Less Mobile Quail
Chloe Tenn | Dec 7, 2021
The Scientist interviews evolutionary biologist Carles Vilà about how a large genomic inversion detected in common quail affects the birds’ physical characteristics and migratory behaviors.
Isolated Realistic Coronavirus Covid-19 Molecule in a Biological Environment stock photo
Tweak to N Protein Makes Delta Variant More Infectious
Chloe Tenn | Nov 5, 2021
Using a novel lab technique, researchers identified a mutation that allows the virus to insert more genetic material into host cells.
an illustration of the sars-cov-2 spike protein in purple tethered to the viral membrane in dark gray
Spike Protein Deletions Linked to COVID-19 Surges: Preprint
Alejandra Manjarrez | Jun 15, 2021
Researchers find that surges in COVID-19 case numbers are associated with deletions in the SARS-CoV-2 genome in an antigenic site of the spike protein. Some of these mutations are present in vaccine breakthrough infections or reinfections.
No Transgenerational Effects of Chernobyl Radiation Found
Abby Olena | Apr 22, 2021
The genomes of the children of people exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident appear to carry no trace of the incident.
Skin Sheltered from Sunlight Still Gathers UV-Linked Mutations
Abby Olena | Jan 14, 2021
Whole-genome sequencing reveals a wide range of UV-induced DNA changes in human skin cells, and lighter skin collects more mutations, sometimes to “sky high” levels.