Thursday, August 20, 2009

My weekly picks from Researchblogging #2

Another week has gone by and some very interesting blog posts have been aggregated into Researchblogging. Every week [see my opening post on the matter], I'll select some blog posts I consider particularly interesting in the field of molecular biology [see here to get a sense of the criteria that will be used] and list them here for you to check out.

This week four blog posts made the cut. Let's get down to business:

1) Charles Daney over at Science and Reason nicely (and in very simple terms, which is always appreciated) discusses a recent article on an interesting link between inflammation and cancer (lymphoma) through cytokine-regulated miRNA expression. Charles describes that the authors reported that SHIP1, a phosphatase that has been described as a tumor suppressor, is a target of a miRNA previously associated with cancer. This effect is somehow regulated by the cytokine TNF alpha.
What is not clear is exactly what mechanism connects inflammation with cancer. There's undoubtedly a variety of mechanisms, given how complicated cellular processes turn out to be when you get down to the finer details. (This article) illustrates one such mechanism, in a single type of cancer.
There is just one phrase in his post I don’t quite agree with, but I’m just splitting hairs:
However, non-coding DNA is certainly less critical to cell function than the DNA of actual genes.
With “actual genes”, I’m assuming he refers to protein-coding genes, however it should be noted that independent genes coding for miRNAs or other ncRNAs such as snoRNAs are also “genes”. Further, there is plenty of evidence supporting important roles for non-coding RNAs in different systems, but that’s something to discuss on another time.

Anyway, this is a nice post discussing a very interesting article, so you should check it out.

2) Next up is Joseph Boyle at the Y.O.R.F. discussing part of his research on the “reannotation and analysis of the Carsonella ruddii genome and sequence-based functional analysis of its metabolic enzymes”. C. ruddii, an endosymbiotic bacteria, it’s a fascinating organism as it has the smallest bacterial genome. Although not a discussion of a particular article per se, Joseph presents some nice data modeling metabolic pathways in C. ruddii.

3) Considering how we now explore “through what seems to be never ending stretches of genetic code from several different species” in our computers, Daniel Ocampo-Daza over at Ego Sum Daniel has put forward an interesting idea: are we “naturalists in the new world of genomes?"

4) Do healthy old people (>85 years old), which have never been diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, pulmonary disease, or diabetes, harbor specific and characteristic genetic variants responsible for their well-being? Dan Koboldt from MassGenomics discusses a recent article published in PLoS ONE in which the authors go after the genetic basis of longevity

That's it for this week. I'll be back in 7 days to highlight posts in molecular biology aggregated at

ScienceBlips: vote it up!



Daniel Ocampo Daza said...

Gracias por el enlace!

Charles Daney said...

Thanks for linking to my piece on inflammation and cancer.

Your point about the importance of non-coding DNA is well-taken. All I meant to imply was that without the protein-coding genes you have nothing at all, not even cells. Parts of the remaining DNA undoubtedly perform essential roles, just not quite as essential.