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65 posts tagged DNA

How spit protects us from poison in coffee -Johns Hopkins University Original Study -
Saliva and common proteins from blood and muscle appear to protect human cells from powerful DNA-destroying toxins in tea, coffee, and liquid smoke flavoring, new research shows. The findings suggest that our bodies naturally launch multiple defenses against these toxins—plant chemicals called pyrogallol-like polyphenols (PLPs)—and could explain why they don’t cripple cells and cause the illness that would be expected from their presence in human diets. Last year, researchers demonstrated that PLPs could do significant damage by breaking strands of DNA, the carrier of genetic information. The effect of the toxins was so strong—in some cases producing 20 times the damage of chemotherapy drugs delivered to cancer patients—that the researchers immediately thought to find out why there wasn’t more damage, and to look for ways that cells might be fighting back. “If these chemicals are so widespread—they’re in flavorings, tea, coffee—and they damage DNA to such a high degree,” says Scott Kern, professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “we thought there must be defense mechanisms that protect us on a daily basis from plants we choose to eat.” In the new study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, Kern and colleagues found that an enzyme in saliva called alpha-amylase, the blood protein albumin, and the muscle protein myoglobin all protect cells from DNA breakage by tea, coffee, and isolated PLPs. (via How spit protects us from poison in coffee | Futurity)

How spit protects us from poison in coffee
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Johns Hopkins University Original Study
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Saliva and common proteins from blood and muscle appear to protect human cells from powerful DNA-destroying toxins in tea, coffee, and liquid smoke flavoring, new research shows. The findings suggest that our bodies naturally launch multiple defenses against these toxins—plant chemicals called pyrogallol-like polyphenols (PLPs)—and could explain why they don’t cripple cells and cause the illness that would be expected from their presence in human diets. Last year, researchers demonstrated that PLPs could do significant damage by breaking strands of DNA, the carrier of genetic information. The effect of the toxins was so strong—in some cases producing 20 times the damage of chemotherapy drugs delivered to cancer patients—that the researchers immediately thought to find out why there wasn’t more damage, and to look for ways that cells might be fighting back. “If these chemicals are so widespread—they’re in flavorings, tea, coffee—and they damage DNA to such a high degree,” says Scott Kern, professor of oncology and pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “we thought there must be defense mechanisms that protect us on a daily basis from plants we choose to eat.” In the new study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, Kern and colleagues found that an enzyme in saliva called alpha-amylase, the blood protein albumin, and the muscle protein myoglobin all protect cells from DNA breakage by tea, coffee, and isolated PLPs. (via How spit protects us from poison in coffee | Futurity)

First lifeforms to pass on artificial DNA engineered by US scientists -Organisms carrying beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that could otherwise not be made - The first living organism to carry and pass down to future generations an expanded genetic code has been created by American scientists, paving the way for a host of new life forms whose cells carry synthetic DNA that looks nothing like the normal genetic code of natural organisms. Researchers say the work challenges the dogma that the molecules of life making up DNA are “special”. Organisms that carry the beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that otherwise could not be made, they have claimed. “This has very important implications for our understanding of life,” said Floyd Romesberg, whose team created the organism at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “For so long people have thought that DNA was the way it was because it had to be, that it was somehow the perfect molecule.” From the moment life gained a foothold on Earth the diversity of organisms has been written in a DNA code of four letters. The latest study moves life beyond G, T, C and A – the molecules or bases that pair up in the DNA helix – and introduces two new letters of life: X and Y. Romesberg started out with E coli, a bug normally found in soil and carried by people. Into this he inserted a loop of genetic material that carried normal DNA and two synthetic DNA bases. Though known as X and Y for simplicity, the artificial DNA bases have much longer chemical names, which themselves abbreviate to d5SICS and dNaM. In living organisms, G, T, C and A come together to form two base pairs, G-C and T-A. The extra synthetic DNA forms a third base pair, X-Y, according to the study in Nature. These base pairs are used to make genes, which cells use as templates for making proteins. Romesberg found that when the modified bacteria divided they passed on the natural DNA as expected. But they also replicated the synthetic code and passed that on to the next generation. That generation of bugs did the same. (via First lifeforms to pass on artificial DNA engineered by US scientists | World news | The Guardian)

First lifeforms to pass on artificial DNA engineered by US scientists
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Organisms carrying beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that could otherwise not be made
-
The first living organism to carry and pass down to future generations an expanded genetic code has been created by American scientists, paving the way for a host of new life forms whose cells carry synthetic DNA that looks nothing like the normal genetic code of natural organisms. Researchers say the work challenges the dogma that the molecules of life making up DNA are “special”. Organisms that carry the beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that otherwise could not be made, they have claimed. “This has very important implications for our understanding of life,” said Floyd Romesberg, whose team created the organism at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “For so long people have thought that DNA was the way it was because it had to be, that it was somehow the perfect molecule.” From the moment life gained a foothold on Earth the diversity of organisms has been written in a DNA code of four letters. The latest study moves life beyond G, T, C and A – the molecules or bases that pair up in the DNA helix – and introduces two new letters of life: X and Y. Romesberg started out with E coli, a bug normally found in soil and carried by people. Into this he inserted a loop of genetic material that carried normal DNA and two synthetic DNA bases. Though known as X and Y for simplicity, the artificial DNA bases have much longer chemical names, which themselves abbreviate to d5SICS and dNaM. In living organisms, G, T, C and A come together to form two base pairs, G-C and T-A. The extra synthetic DNA forms a third base pair, X-Y, according to the study in Nature. These base pairs are used to make genes, which cells use as templates for making proteins. Romesberg found that when the modified bacteria divided they passed on the natural DNA as expected. But they also replicated the synthetic code and passed that on to the next generation. That generation of bugs did the same. (via First lifeforms to pass on artificial DNA engineered by US scientists | World news | The Guardian)

Scientists hail synthetic chromosome advance
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Scientists have created the first synthetic chromosome for yeast in a landmark for biological engineering. Previously synthetic DNA has been designed and made for simpler organisms such as bacteria. As a form of life whose cells contain a nucleus, yeast is related to plants and animals and shares 2,000 genes with us. So the creation of the first of yeast’s 16 chromosomes has been hailed as “a massive deal” in the emerging science of synthetic biology. The genes in the original chromosome were replaced with synthetic versions and the finished manmade chromosome was then successfully integrated into a yeast cell. The new cell was then observed to reproduce, passing a key test of viability. Yeast is a favoured target for this research because of its well-established use in key industries such as brewing and baking and its potential for future industrial applications. One company in California has already used synthetic biology to create a strain of yeast that can produce artemisinin, an ingredient for an anti-malarial drug. The synthesis of chromosome III in yeast was undertaken by an international team and the findings are published in the journal Science (yeast chromosomes are normally designated by Roman numerals). (via BBC News - Scientists hail synthetic chromosome advance)

Eventually, the researchers think that they might approximate the image of a parent from the DNA of children or better visualize some of Homo sapiens’ ancestors by looking at DNA. On a more practical level, law enforcement groups might be able to create a “mug shot” from DNA to identify both victims and criminals.  -3D models connect DNA to facial features
Penn State, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania -> Original Study
-Using 3D models, researchers are closer to connecting genetics with facial features. Eventually, they hope the findings will lead to predicting facial features from DNA evidence.
“By jointly modeling sex, genomic ancestry, and genotype, the independent effects of particular alleles on facial features can be uncovered,” the researchers state in PLOS Genetics. They add “by simultaneously modeling facial shape variation as a function of sex and genomic ancestry along with genetic markers in craniofacial candidate genes, the effects of sex and ancestry can be removed from the model thereby providing the ability to extract the effects of individual genes.”
In essence, by including sex and racial admixture, researchers can learn about how certain genes and their variations influence the shape of the face and its features.
“We use DNA to match to an individual or identify an individual, but you can get so much more from DNA,” says Mark D. Shriver, professor of anthropology at Penn State. “Currently we can’t go from DNA to a face or from a face to DNA, but it should be possible.”
(via 3D models connect DNA to facial features | Futurity)

Eventually, the researchers think that they might approximate the image of a parent from the DNA of children or better visualize some of Homo sapiens’ ancestors by looking at DNA. On a more practical level, law enforcement groups might be able to create a “mug shot” from DNA to identify both victims and criminals.
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3D models connect DNA to facial features

Penn State, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania -> Original Study

-Using 3D models, researchers are closer to connecting genetics with facial features. Eventually, they hope the findings will lead to predicting facial features from DNA evidence.

“By jointly modeling sex, genomic ancestry, and genotype, the independent effects of particular alleles on facial features can be uncovered,” the researchers state in PLOS Genetics.
They add “by simultaneously modeling facial shape variation as a function of sex and genomic ancestry along with genetic markers in craniofacial candidate genes, the effects of sex and ancestry can be removed from the model thereby providing the ability to extract the effects of individual genes.”

In essence, by including sex and racial admixture, researchers can learn about how certain genes and their variations influence the shape of the face and its features.

“We use DNA to match to an individual or identify an individual, but you can get so much more from DNA,” says Mark D. Shriver, professor of anthropology at Penn State. “Currently we can’t go from DNA to a face or from a face to DNA, but it should be possible.”

(via 3D models connect DNA to facial features | Futurity)

Probably the best BBC Knowledge Explainer about DNA ..

BBC Knowledge and Learning is exploring a wide variety of topics from social history to science in a series of three-minute online Explainer documentaries, and commissioned Territory (territorystudio.com) to produce an animated film on the subject of DNA.

As Will Samuel, lead designer and animator on the project explains, the approach taken wasn’t just to look into a scientific future. “We needed to find a graphic style to communicate the beauty and intricacy of DNA. We wanted to create nostalgia; taking the audience back to the days of textbook diagrams and old science documentaries, such as Carl Sagan’s COSMOS and IBM’s POWER OF TEN (1977). Using the double helix circular theme as a core design we focused on form, movement and colour to create a consistent flow to the animation, drawing on references from nature, illustrating how DNA is the core to everything around us.”

Three minutes is a short time to explore a subject where most doctorates only scratch the surface, so writer Andrew S. Walsh teamed up with molecular biologist Dr Matthew Adams to distil the script down to the most fundamental elements required to understand not only DNA’s form and function but how our understanding of these discoveries has affected the wider world. While this length may feel restrictive, the team found that this limitation acted as a lens, focusing the piece on the essentials.

The Explainer series is designed to intrigue and inform, encouraging those who discover the documentaries to further explore through links to additional information found on the BBC website.
(by Territory)