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Posts Tagged "proteins"

Lab Rat

Shooting the messenger: small RNA as a target for antibiotics

A single strand of RNA. "ARNm-Rasmol" by Corentin Le Reun - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ARNm-Rasmol.gif#mediaviewer/File:ARNm-Rasmol.gif

All living cells contain DNA; the code for producing every protein needed by the cell. As DNA is important it needs to be kept safe. Plants and animals keep their DNA tightly twisted and organised inside a double-membrane bound nucleus while bacteria keep their DNA coiled up in a big circle, with the occasional loop [...]

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Lab Rat

Arctic creepy-crawlies part I: the ice worms

Ice ridges in the Beaufort Sea off the northern coast of Alaska

Following my previous post on wildlife diseases, I’ve been in a fairly multicellular mood. Rather than try and turn my mind back to bacteria I decided to get it out of my system by finishing the month with a two part mini-series on creepy-crawlies that survive in some of the harshest conditions on earth; the [...]

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Lab Rat

From the archives: life at 90°C

Bacteria in a toga! Image (c) me.

I’m on holiday this week so this is an old post that appeared on my previous blog “Life of a Lab Rat” on July 1st 2010. Prokaryotes are by far the most successful superkingdom in terms of both biochemical diversity and the variety of environments conquered. Bacteria can be found living in all kinds of [...]

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Lab Rat

Speeding up reactions: biological vs. chemical catalysts

The process of catalysis. X and Y are reactants (input) while Z is the final product. C is the catalyst.

Most chemical reactions go pretty slowly at room temperature. This is good news most of the time, otherwise random parts of the environment would be exploding at regular intervals, but bad news for industrial processes which need reactions to occur. In order to speed them up, catalysts are used. A catalyst is any substance that [...]

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Lab Rat

Evolving proteins – no DNA required

Light photomicrograph of brain tissue (magnified 100X) suffering from vCJD. Image from Public Health Image Library (PHIL) ID#: 10131

Prions are the infective agents that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow Disease in humans. All prions affect the brain or neural tissues and are currently untreatable. What makes them particularly fascinating is that unlike other infective agents such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, they don’t contain any genetic material. No DNA or [...]

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Lab Rat

Clever microbes: bacterial sensors and signals

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If anyone is around in London over the weekend, there’s an awesome looking summer science exhibition at the Royal Society focusing on bacterial signal transduction: how bacteria work together to sense and respond to their environment. The exhibit runs from the 2-7th July and is free to attend. You can find out more about it, [...]

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Lab Rat

Toxic Little Molecules

The rod shaped Clostridium Difficile bacteria, image from the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

There are various different ways that pathogenic bacteria can damage and kill human cells, but one of the most common is by the production of toxic molecules. These small molecules are made inside the bacterial cell, the protein chain built using the DNA template and then often modified within the cell before being secreted directly [...]

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Lab Rat

How the animals lost their sensors

The components of the two-component signalling system. Picture (c) me.

For free-living organisms, the ability to sense and respond to the outside environment is crucial for survival. Eukaryotes, such as animals and plants, often have highly complex network systems in place to monitor their surroundings and respond effectively, but bacteria have developed a remarkably simple system. It’s called the ‘Two Component System’ because it literally [...]

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Lab Rat

The Bacteria that Commit Honourable Suicide

A simple diagram of the interactions between the two. The entire story is more complex, and can be found in the references

In multicellular organisms it is essential that every cell behaves and does the job it was produced to perform. The survival of a multicellular organism depends on this  - every cell in your body is tightly controlled in terms of how big it can grow (fairly big), when it can reproduce (almost never) and what [...]

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Lab Rat

The mainstream fronts of Synthetic Biology: Guest post

The iGEM logo

This is a guest post from M. A. Loera Sánchez from the iGEM team UANL 2012. I have carried out a few small grammar edits but otherwise the essay is all his work, and I would like to thank him for the opportunity to host it on my blog. All references are below the main [...]

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Observations

Scientists observe protein folding in living cells for the first time

protein folding in vivo cells

Even in sleep, the human body is rarely still—and within it, there is the constant motion of the contents of our cells and the proteins within. Until now, scientists have had to estimate the speed of complex but common actions such as protein folding (which turns an unorganized polypeptide strand into a complex and useful [...]

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