Scientists Identify Antivirus System in Host Cells

Scientists have discovered a new anti-virus system

Viruses have led scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to the discovery of a security system in host cells. Viruses that cause disease in animals beat the security system millennia ago.

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Unexpected Viral ‘Fossils’ Found in Vertebrate Genomes


Colorized negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicts a number of Marburg virus virions.

Over millions of years, retroviruses, which insert their genetic material into the host genome as part of their replication, have left behind bits of their genetic material in vertebrate genomes. In a recent study, published July 29 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens, a team of researchers have now found that human and other vertebrate genomes also contain many ancient sequences from Ebola/Marburgviruses and Bornaviruses — two deadly virus families.

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What Makes You Unique? Not Genes So Much as Surrounding Sequences, Study Finds


Researchers have found that the unique, specific changes among individuals in the sequence of DNA affect the ability of “control proteins” called transcription factors to bind to the regions that control gene expression.

The key to human individuality may lie not in our genes, but in the sequences that surround and control them, according to new research by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Yale University. The interaction of those sequences with a class of key proteins, called transcription factors, can vary significantly between two people and are likely to affect our appearance, our development and even our predisposition to certain diseases, the study found.

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Minor Variations in One Gene May Be Associated With Endurance Running


Elite endurance athletes were more likely to have variations of the NRF2 gene than elite sprinters.

A few minor variations in one gene may make a difference in athletic endurance, according to a new study from Physiological Genomics.

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Southern African Genomes Sequenced: Benefits for Human Health Expected


This image shows a group of hunters from the Ju/’hoansi tribe in the Namibian Bush.

Human genomes from Southern African Bushmen and Bantu individuals have been sequenced by a team of scientists seeking a greater understanding of human genetic variation and its effect on human health. The study’s findings will be published in the journal Nature on 18 February 2010. The research was completed by scientists from American, African, and Australian research institutions, with support from Penn State University in the United States and from several U.S. companies that market DNA-sequencing instruments.

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How Do Salamanders Grow a New Leg? Protein Mechanisms Behind Limb Regeneration


A female wild-type axolotl

The most comprehensive study to date of the proteins in a species of salamander that can regrow appendages may provide important clues to how similar regeneration could be induced in humans.

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Biological Basis of ‘Bacterial Immune System’ Discovered


Bacteria and archaea (first discovered in extreme environments such as deep-sea volcanic vents, such as the one shown above) manage to survive thanks in part to a built-in defense system that helps protect them from many viruses and other invaders.

Bacteria don’t have easy lives. In addition to mammalian immune systems that besiege the bugs, they have natural enemies called bacteriophages, viruses that kill half the bacteria on Earth every two days.

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Gene Therapy Can Improve Muscle Mass and Strength in Monkeys, Research Suggests


Cynomolgus macaque. New research in these primates suggests that a gene delivery strategy that produces follistatin can improve muscle mass and function.

A study appearing in Science Translational Medicine puts scientists one step closer to clinical trials to test a gene delivery strategy to improve muscle mass and function in patients with certain degenerative muscle disorders.

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Domestic Horse Genome Sequenced


Twilight, a Thoroughbred horse from Cornell University.

An international team of researchers has decoded the genome of the domestic horse Equus caballus, revealing a genome structure with remarkable similarities to humans and more than one million genetic differences across a variety of horse breeds. In addition to shedding light on a key part of the mammalian branch of the evolutionary tree, the work also provides a critical starting point for mapping disease genes in horses.

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HIV Tamed By Designer ‘Leash’


This thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted the ultrastructural details of a number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus particles, or virions.

Researchers have shown how an antiviral protein produced by the immune system, dubbed tetherin, tames HIV and other viruses by literally putting them on a leash, to prevent their escape from infected cells. The insights, reported in the October 30th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, allowed the research team to design a completely artificial protein — one that did not resemble native tetherin in its sequence at all — that could nonetheless put a similar stop to the virus.

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‘Junk’ DNA Cut-and-paste Protein: Discovery May Prove Invaluable In Quest For Gene Therapies


New research sheds light on how a protein enables sections of so-called junk DNA to be cut out and reinserted elsewhere in the genome.

Scientists have identified how a protein enables sections of so-called junk DNA to be cut and pasted within genetic code – a finding which could speed development of gene therapies. Continue reading… “‘Junk’ DNA Cut-and-paste Protein: Discovery May Prove Invaluable In Quest For Gene Therapies”


How Stem Cells Make Skin


In normal skin (left), the stem cells at the base, shown in green, differentiate into skin cells, shown in red.

Stem cells have a unique ability: when they divide, they can either give rise to more stem cells, or to a variety of specialised cell types. In both mice and humans, a layer of cells at the base of the skin contains stem cells that can develop into the specialised cells in the layers above. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, in collaboration with colleagues at the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnologicas (CIEMAT) in Madrid, have discovered two proteins that control when and how these stem cells switch to being skin cells. Continue reading… “How Stem Cells Make Skin”