Friday, February 25, 2011

qPCR: quicker and easier but don't be sloppy

(Image credit)
Quick post just to direct your attention to a new article in Nature Methods, under the "Technology Feature" section, discussing qPCR. This is a very powerful technique, but care must be taken when setting it up in order to arrive to the right conclusions.


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Thursday, February 10, 2011

You know you’re a biologist when…

Hop over to the GE Global Research site and check John Nelson's full list...

Just a sample:

You know you’re a biologist when…

-You use the word “aliquot” in regular sentences.
-You’ve made dry ice grenades.


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Monday, February 7, 2011

The MolBio Carnival #7

It’s our turn to host the 7th issue of The MolBio Carnival and as usual, we have great posts to discuss and highlight. This is actually my first time hosting it, as last time, for the 1st issue of this Carnival, Alejandro did all the work, and a fine one, I might add.

Although I´ve been absent from posting for a very long time (mainly because of the revision of a manuscript I'm involved in), I hope to be more productive in the near future ("bloggistically" speaking at least) so that I can continue discussing articles from the cancer field.

Anyway, let's get straight down to business:

1. The host of the past issue of The MolBio Carnival, Michael Scott Long, discusses a recent publication in PLoS ONE in which the authors explore the synthetic biology world by testing de novo designed proteins for their ability to compensate for conditional mutations in bacteria. Interestingly, some of these proteins (which have no known function), were able to partially rescue mutant phenotypes! Further, apparently this had nothing to do with restoring the endogenous mutation.

Design of a collection of novel proteins and rescue of E. coli auxotrophs. From the paper discussed by Michael. 
Dormant bacteria (source)
2. Considering how treatments based on antibiotics that target biosynthetic processes in growing cells are less than helpful when dealing with persistent infections involving slow-growing or non-growing bacteria, S.E. Gould at Lab Rat comments on the strategies used to target these “dormant bacteria”.

I must say that the (hand-made) diagram she uses in her post is awesome; it takes me back to my college biochemistry courses! Go check it out

3. Hepatitis viruses are a major health issue in the world, affecting millions of people every year. James Byrne at Disease Prone blogs about the Hepatitis B Virus, the health problems it can lead to, and it’s "close connection" to Australia.

4. On her first submission to this issue of The MolBio Carnival, Becky Ward at It Takes 30,  discusses a recent PNAS paper studying some of the biophysical properties of bacterial biofilms, particulary its low “wettability” (which appears to be lower than that of Teflon).

The authors report that “the nonwetting properties are a synergistic result of extracellular matrix composition, multiscale roughness, reentrant topography, and possibly yet other factors related to the dynamic nature of the biofilm surface”.This opens a whole new area of antimicrobial research.

Inositol pyrophosphates inhibit
Akt signaling (Source
5. Dave Bridges over at Dave´s Blog comments on a paper in Cell in which the authors show that IP7 (an inositol pyrophosphate) appears to inhibit Akt, a “serine/threonine kinase that regulates glucose homeostasis and protein translation”. It is noteworthy that IP3 has been known to act as a second messenger for over two decades, yet the function of the highly related molecules IP6, IP7, etc., are still largely unknown. This article describes the function of at least one of these molecules in the context of insulin signaling, which can have important therapeutic implications for diabetes.

6. Closing this edition of The Carnival, and on her second contribution, Becky Ward discusses a paper analyzing the role of cell division in the non-genetic heterogeneity observed in a population of cells derived from a single cell (clonal populations). This article, published in Nature Genetics, shows that indeed the stochastic distribution of molecules at cell division may have a major role in the intrinsic differences between several members of a population (in this case between cells derived from a single division). Together with the variability resulting from gene expression noise, this just shows how different two cells arising from a single cell division can actually be.

That's it for this month's edition of The MolBio Carnival. You can check future hosts and past editions at the Carnival’s index page or at the blog. Be sure to subscribe to its RSS feed to receive notifications and summaries when new editions of the Carnival are posted. Also, be sure to submit your best molbio blog posts to the next edition of The MolBio Carnival using our carnival submission form. The next issue of the Carnival will be hosted by Lucas Brouwers over at Thoughtomics. More info here


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