Epigenetics Are Important To Evolutionary Success

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Credit:  Daves BirdingPix

Genetic diversity and long periods of time are things that are crucial for evolutionary adaptation. This made scientists wonder why invasive species, lacking genetic diversity, succeed quickly. And some ecologists are beginning to think that epigenetic factors might be modifying genes while leaving the genome intact.

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Enzyme’s Essential Role in Long-Term Memory Refuted

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The enzyme protein kinase M-ζ (PKM-ζ) was thought to be a fixture of long-term memory, as its inhibition could erase old memories, whilst adding it could strengthen faded ones. Two independent groups have challenged the role of this memory molecule by developing mice that completely lack it and show no detectable memory problems.

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Lab-Made Gel Mimics Molecular Motors Inside Living Cells


Researchers have developed a lab-made material that can move itself using the building blocks found inside of cells.

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Sequencing DNA from Individual Cells Yields Dramatic New Information


Nicolas Navin wanted to work out the sequence from individual cancer cells to see how they had mutated and diverged as the cancer grew. Back in 2010, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and exploring the genetic changes that occur during breast cancer.

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Priapulid Worms Highlight Need to Rename A Group of Animals


A new study on the development of priapulids, known colloquially as penis worms, throws doubt on a feature that has been thought to define one of the largest groups of animals for more than a century.

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“Arsenic-Life” Bacterium Prefers Phosphate Over Arsenate


Researchers that claimed that the GFAJ-1 bacterium had a preference for arsenic instead of phosphorous in its DNA have been somewhat refuted. A new study shows that the GFAJ-1 microbe actually goes to extreme lengths to grab any traces of phosphorous it can find.

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Proteins from Black Mamba Venom Could Yield New Painkillers


The venom of the black mamba snake can kill humans within 20 minutes, but among those deadly compounds are two snake proteins, called mambalgins, that can block pain in mice as effectively as morphine and with fewer side effects.

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New Genetic Modifications Result in Cows with Allergen-Free Milk


New genetic modification techniques have allowed geneticists to engineer cows that secrete allergen-free milk and pigs that can serve as models for atherosclerosis. The cows lack an allergy-inducing protein, which was blocked accurately using RNA interference. In the pigs, scientists used the TALEN enzyme to scramble a gene that would normally help remove cholesterol.

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Sirtuin Protein SIRT6 Linked to Longevity in Mammals


A member of the sirtuin family of proteins, SIRT6, has been shown to extend lifespans in mammals. Researchers studying the aging process have long been intrigued by the sirtuin genes and their associated proteins. Recent results published in the journal Nature suggest that the overexpression of this one gene can lengthen lifespan in male mice by up to 15.8%.

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