Biology News

Protein secrets of Ebola virus

Biology News - Mon, 2014-09-15 18:20


This is a ribbon diagram showing the tertiary structure with secondary-structure elements identified and labeled. The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in the development of vaccines or antiviral drugs to treat or prevent Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Now, a team at the University of Virginia (UVA), USA – under the leadership of Dr Dan Engel, a virologist, and Dr Zygmunt Derewenda, a structural biologist – has obtained the crystal structure of a key protein involved in Ebola virus replication, the C-terminal domain of the Zaire Ebola virus nucleoprotein (NP) [Dziubanska et al. (2014). Acta Cryst. D70, 2420-2429; doi:10.1107/S1399004714014710].

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Gut bacteria tire out T cells

Biology News - Mon, 2014-09-15 18:20

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine on September 15, may explain why these patients suffer from recurrent bacterial infections.

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Researchers develop improved means of detecting mismatched DNA

Biology News - Mon, 2014-09-15 18:20

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified a highly sensitive means of analyzing very tiny amounts of DNA. The discovery, they say, could increase the ability of forensic scientists to match genetic material in some criminal investigations. It could also prevent the need for a painful, invasive test given to transplant patients at risk of rejecting their donor organs and replace it with a blood test that reveals traces of donor DNA.

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Decoding virus-host interactions in the oxygen-starved ocean

Biology News - Mon, 2014-09-15 18:20

For multicellular life—plants and animals—to thrive in the oceans, there must be enough dissolved oxygen in the water. In certain coastal areas, extreme oxygen-starvation produces "dead zones" that decimate marine fisheries and destroy food web structure. As dissolved oxygen levels decline, energy is increasingly diverted away from multicellular life into microbial community metabolism resulting in impacts on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the ocean.

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Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene

Biology News - Mon, 2014-09-15 18:20

Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans' unique ability to produce and understand speech.

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