Genetics

  • A new study shows how dangerous germs travel as stowaways from one continent to another

    Using a special culture, germs from smears can be recognized and identified. Photo: WWU/H. Dornhege

    As scientists from Münster University, in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, have now demonstrated, toilets at airports are also a “transfer point” for germs. These include germs against which traditional antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections are not, or only partially, effective.
    Münster (mfm/sm) – Everyday life at an airport: there’s still time before the jet taking passengers to faraway countries takes off – time enough for a quick visit to the toilet. What awaits passengers there is not always a pleasant sight. However, what they don’t see can be much worse. As scientists from Münster University, in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, have now demonstrated, toilets at airports are also a “transfer point” for germs.

  • Computers Made of Genetic Material? - ZDR researchers conduct electricity using DNA-based nanowires

    Scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf conducted electricity through DNA-based nanowires by placing gold-plated nanoparticles on them.

    Tinier than the AIDS virus – that is currently the circumference of the smallest transistors. The industry has shrunk the central elements of their computer chips to fourteen nanometers in the last sixty years. Conventional methods, however, are hitting physical boundaries. An alternative could be the self-organization of complex components from molecules and atoms. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and Paderborn University have now made an important advance: the physicists conducted a current through gold-plated nanowires, which independently assembled themselves from single DNA strands. Their results have been published in the scientific journal Langmuir.

  • DNA structure influences the function of transcription factors

    Spatial arrangement of the binding site and neighbouring segments modulates gene activity

  • Enough is enough - stem cell factor Nanog knows when to slow down

    STILT generates simulated protein expression of dividing cells based on measured data and a dynamic model. Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    The transcription factor Nanog plays a crucial role in the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells. Previously unclear was how its protein abundance is regulated in the cells. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with colleagues from ETH Zürich, now report in ‘Cell Systems’ that the more Nanog there is on hand, the less reproduction there is. Every stem cell researcher knows the protein Nanog* because it ensures that these all-rounders continue to renew. A controversial debate revolved around how the quantity of Nanog protein in the cell is regulated.

  • Faster diagnosis of sepsis pathogens

    High-throughput sequencing of sepsis pathogens at Fraunhofer IGB. Fraunhofer IGB

    Microbial pathogens can be diagnosed unambiguously and within just 24 hours by means of high-throughput sequencing of their genetic makeup and special bioinformatics evaluation algorithms. Fraunhofer researchers have validated this in a clinical study with sepsis patients. The researchers present the NGS diagnosis platform at Medica in Düsseldorf from November 14–17, 2016. It is estimated that in Germany alone around 150,000 people fall ill with sepsis every year; despite medical advances, between 30 and 50 percent of the patients still die of the consequences. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate: the diagnosis often comes too late for the lifesaving therapy with antibiotics that only combat the specific causative pathogen.

  • High-speed camera snaps bio-switch in action

    The riboswitch 'button' before, during and after coupling of the ligand (green), from left to right. Credit: Yun-Xing Wang and Jason Stagno, National Cancer Institute

    X-ray experiment opens new route to study biochemical reactions. With a powerful X-ray camera, scientists have watched a genetic switch at work for the first time. The study led by Yun-Xing Wang from the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. reveals the ultrafast dynamics of a riboswitch, a gene regulator that can switch individual genes on and off. The innovative technique used for this investigation opens up a completely new avenue for studying numerous fundamental biochemical reactions, as the team reports in a fast-track publication in the journal Nature.

  • Monsanto takeover: Bayer is buying the US American seed company in $66 billion deal

    Bayer is buying Monsanto. © Nanobay

    According to the German weekly news magazine “Stern” Bayer agrees to buy the US American seed company Monsanto. It is the largest company takeover by a Germany-based group.

  • Neu entdeckter Schalter in der Zelle unterstützt globale Umprogrammierung der Genexpression

    Der Mechanismus zur Steuerung des globalen Abbaus von mRNA

    Steuerung des globalen Abbaus von mRNA durch Acetylierung von RNA-abbauenden Enzymen

  • New antibody therapy permanently blocks SIV infection

    Prof. Dr. Lutz Walter is Head of the Primate Genetics Laboratory at the German Primate Center and co-author of the study. Photo: Karin Tilch

    An international research team has developed an effective treatment strategy against the HIV-like Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in rhesus macaques

  • New software helps to find out why “jumping genes” are activated

    Transposons - Jumping genes © Nanobay

    Jumping genes, so-called transposons, reproduce as parasites in the genome. This selfish behaviour can be an evolutionary advantage for the organism or harm it. There is still a debate about the factors controlling the activity of transposons. Comparisons between populations could shed an answer on this but have been biased due to technical problems. The software PoPoolationTE2 developed by the Institute of Population Genetics at Vetmeduni Vienna enables an unbiased analysis for the first time and determines the frequency of transposons. This might also be useful for cancer research and neurology. The software was presented in the renowned journals Molecular Biology and Evolution.

  • Regulatory molecules: third RNA binding protein identified

    The bacterial RNA universe: The structures of the different regulatory RNA molecules are shown left, their preferred protein binding partners on the right. (Picture: Alexandre Smirnov)

    Pathogenic bacteria use small RNA molecules to adapt to their environment. Infection researchers from Würzburg have now pinpointed a protein involved in regulating the activity of these molecules.

  • Use of bacteria to produce valuable substances from carbon dioxide

    Ball-and-stick model of the carbon dioxide molecule, one of the most important chemical compounds in the world - vital for life as we know it, but catastrophic at excess levels. Colour code: Carbon, C: black Oxygen, O: red

    Goethe University Frankfurt coordinates European two million Euro project. Microbes are already used on a wide scale for the production of fuels and base chemicals, but for this most of them have to be “fed” with sugar. However, since sugar-based biotechnology finds itself in competition with food production, it is faced with increasingly fierce criticism. Carbon dioxide has meanwhile become the focus of attention as an alternative raw material for biotechnological processes. Goethe University Frankfurt has now taken charge of a collaborative European project, the aim of which is to advance the development of processes for microbial, CO2-based biotechnology. The project will be funded over the next three years with € 2 million.

  • Watching Molecular Machines at Work

    Watching Molecular Machines at Work | Cryo EM structures of APC/C in three states: Left, off, before cells are ready for chromosome segregation; Middle, in the process of turning on; Right, on, in action, to turn on cell division. Illustration: Masaya Yamaguchi and Nicholas Brown, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

    An international team of scientists from Austria, Germany and the US has combined newly developed techniques in electron microscopy and protein assembly to elucidate how cells regulate one of the most important steps in cell division. The latest paper in a series of four is now published online in Molecular Cell.