Thursday, September 10, 2009

The multifaceted p53, human mutation rates and more in my MolBio picks of the week from RB

MolBio Editor's pick from ResearchBlogging.orgAnother week has gone by and some very interesting molbio blog posts have been aggregated into Every week [see my inaugural 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], briefly describe them and list them here for you to check out.

This week, I selected 3 blog posts (4 actually, you'll see).

1) This year commemorates the 30th anniversary of the discovery of p53 and the 20th anniversary of its characterization as a tumor suppressor. As you may know, mutations in p53 (particularly in its DNA-binding domain) or alterations in its regulatory network are present in more that half of cancer cases.

p53 functions as a transcription factor and it regulates a wide array of genes in several stress response pathways, however some of its tumor-suppressor effects may be mediated in a transcription-independent way.

Charles Daney at Science and Reason comments on a study revealing one of these transcription-independent effects: p53 appears to enhance the post-transcriptional processing of a series of miRNAs with growth-suppressor functions, by direct interaction with the miRNA biogenesis machinery.

2) In two separate posts, David at the Atavism and Larry Moran over at Sandwalk (who actually published his post last week), discuss a recent article measuring the human Y chromosome base-substitution mutation rate by resequencing it completely (yes, completely using Illumina technology) from two men separated by 13 generations.
The authors arrive at a mutation rate of 3 x 10-8 changes per nucleotide per generation, which is not so different from the error rate of DNA replication. This has nice evolutionary implications discussed at these posts.

3) Induced pluripotent stem cells (or iPS cells, linage-specific cells reprogrammed to a pluripotent state by the overexpression of certain transcription factors) are a hot topic right now.
Jacob Aron at Just a Theory highlights a PNAS article reporting a new method: the generation of iPS cells from adult human adipose stem cells (hASCs). Interestingly, iPS cells can be derived from this tissue without requiring feeder cells. Further, hASCs can be isolated in large quantities and are easy to maintain in culture.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for more MolBio Research Highlights!

Some of the articles discussed in this week's selected posts:
Suzuki, H., Yamagata, K., Sugimoto, K., Iwamoto, T., Kato, S., & Miyazono, K. (2009). Modulation of microRNA processing by p53 Nature, 460 (7254), 529-533 DOI: 10.1038/nature08199

Xue, Y., Wang, Q., Long, Q., Ng, B., Swerdlow, H., Burton, J., Skuce, C., Taylor, R., Abdellah, Z., & Zhao, Y. (2009). Human Y Chromosome Base-Substitution Mutation Rate Measured by Direct Sequencing in a Deep-Rooting Pedigree Current Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.032

Sun, N., Panetta, N., Gupta, D., Wilson, K., Lee, A., Jia, F., Hu, S., Cherry, A., Robbins, R., Longaker, M., & Wu, J. (2009). Feeder-free derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells from adult human adipose stem cells Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0908450106

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