Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hybrid sterility in fruit flies, regulating the mammalian circadian clock and more, in my Picks of the Week from RB

Another week has gone by and some very interesting molbio blog posts have been aggregated to Researchblogging.org. 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], briefly describe them and list them here for you to check out.

Note that I'm only taking into consideration the molbio-related blog posts aggregated under "Biology".

Congratulations to everyone who got their post selected.

1) In his 1942 book “Systematics and the Origin of Species”, Ernst Mayr argued that species are best defined by the Biological Species Concept: “species are groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups”.

“Intrinsic postzygotic isolation” (one of the many mechanisms of reproductive isolation), results in the sterility or lethality of hybrid offspring following a successful fertilization event and the formation of the zygote. Lucas Brouwers at Thoughtomics discusses a new article addressing the molecular basis of hybrid sterility in Drosophila using two species as a study model, D. simulans and D. mauritiana, between which the crosses produce sterile F1 hybrid males and fertile females.

The authors propose that a protein called OdsH acts as a “sterilizing factor” and suggest that in this system hybrid sterility results from defective heterochromatin packaging and condensation.

2) Circadian clocks control a variety of processes in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. In eukaryotes, the basic architecture and the molecular organization of the central oscillator is conserved: interconnected positive and negative feedback loops give rise to a robust oscillator which drives rhythms in biochemistry, physiology and behavior with a period close to 24 hrs.

Protein phosphorylation is a common regulatory element in circadian systems and a variety of kinases have been identified as regulators of core clock components in different (circadian) model organisms. LabRat comments on a recent article reporting that the well-studied Akt-GSK3β signaling pathway regulates the stability and function of BMAL1, a core clock component of the mammalian oscillator.

3) A few months ago, Laura Bonetta published a paper in Cell discussing Twitter and the potential benefits this microblogging service can have for scientists.
Allyson Lister at “The mind wobbles” now discusses Friendfeed as another social networking tool that can be of aid to scientists:
“We find that Friendfeed shares all of the features of Twitter but few of its limitations and provides many additional features valuable for scientists”.
As both a Twitter and Friendfeed user myself, I found both the article and the blog post particularly interesting, mainly because discussing science is really what I use this services for.

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

ResearchBlogging.orgSome of the articles discussed in this week's selected posts:

Bayes, J., & Malik, H. (2009). Altered Heterochromatin Binding by a Hybrid Sterility Protein in Drosophila Sibling Species Science, 326 (5959), 1538-1541 DOI: 10.1126/science.1181756

Sahar, S., Zocchi, L., Kinoshita, C., Borrelli, E., & Sassone-Corsi, P. (2010). Regulation of BMAL1 Protein Stability and Circadian Function by GSK3β-Mediated Phosphorylation PLoS ONE, 5 (1) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008561

Bonetta, L. (2009). Should You Be Tweeting? Cell, 139 (3), 452-453 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.10.017

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