Tag Archives: Genetics

Got Blue Eyes? Better thank that one person that lived 10,000 years ago

Got Blue Eyes?  Better thank that one person that lived 10,000 years ago

As a person whose favorite color is blue and lives in the town where wearing anything but blue in March is equivalent to asking for your friendships to end (Lexington KY), I thought I had to share this with you. Apparently, the mutation in OCA2 gene that resulted in blue eyes can be traced back to a single individual who lived around 10 centuries ago. But, the research also used mitochondrial DNA to determine inheritance patterns (it’s really hard to say anything conclusive with each generation that you go back when working with mtDNA). Still thought it was pretty Fancy. Go Blue!


Did your “stress genes” affect on your SAT scores?


This is an article that I read a while ago which described the effects of COMT gene and its function in clearing dopamine in the brain that is often released as a result of a stress response. There are two variants of the COMT gene: one which clears dopamine at a faster rate and another one which is a slower acting version. Usually, people with the slow variant do better on cognitive tests in the laboratory. However, under surges of stress, such as high-stake tests, when the brain is flooded with dopamine, researchers found that those with the slower variant were at a disadvantage. In Taiwanese national exams, students with the slow variant scored an average of 8 percents lower. “It was as if some of the A students and B students traded places at test time.”
What do you think about the influence of stress on your performance in school and other tests. Personally, I would love to know my COMT polymorphism in addition to ACTN gene. New genetics lab @ rafakoko?

link to the article:


Cancer and Extracellular Matrix DNA

Mina Bissell has been challenging the notion that cancer is solely based on DNA in the nucleus. Here she explains how the environment (not necessarily epigenetic processes) can influence developmental biology. Understandably, for her “radical” belief of ECM DNA and environment, she has been challenged by many biologists. What do you think?

Intronic snoRNAs, Lipid Induced Oxidative Stress, and why the term “Junk DNA” should be BLASPHEMY

schafferLike many of my fellow bloggers, I too attended the talk by Jean Schaefer at the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Research Symposium at the University of Kentucky.  In her talk, she showed that snoRNAs in the intronic regions of fatty acid metabolic genes are important in regulating the oxidative stress and lipidtoxicity which cause cell death.  When they made a…wait for it….fluorescent construct to act as a reporter for the expression of snoRNAs in presence of high lipid levels in cell culture, many of these snoRNAs were shown to accumulate in the cytosol of the cell!  This is fascinating since small nucleolar RNAs are “expected” to be mostly localized to the nucleus.  Furthermore, she was able to show that both intronic microRNAs expressions and lipid linked oxidation change upon mutating specific snoRNAs.  Specifically, mutation of the snoRNAs U32a, U33, and U35a resulted in decrease of apoptosis in cells under metabolic stress conditions (high amounts of lipid).  In addition to the slides upon slides of data that she showed, I enjoyed how her talk showed the importance of intronic sequences and noncoding RNAs (RNAs and DNA sequences that do not directly contribute to making proteins in an organism) that have been traditionally ignored in genetics until recently.  Also I am creepingly stalking her, as I do with most scientists that I like, by directly sitting in front of her while typing this post.  (She was telling one of her colleagues about her path to science as a cardiologist who went to MIT to learn cell biology and ended up spending five years and becoming dedicated to basic research now with little clinical work–creeping clearly makes you find out interesting information).  Anyways, click on her picture to get to her lab’s website and all the interesting projects that go on in there.  She is…Definitely FANCY!

HIV-Vaccine…It Made the Cover!!!

Cover of Science

I know many of us have talked about the potential for the new HIV vaccine (NOT to be confused with the HVTN 505), but I wanted to share the actual journal article that published the findings initially.  It was the cover of this week’s issue of Science.  There is some heavy information packed in there but what I appreciated most was the interaction between the fields of immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and nanoparticle chemistry that took in developing this immunagen that engages B cell receptors and results in an antibody response.  The innovation has the potential to revolutionize not only vaccine methods targeting HIV but also other diseases where highly variable viruses are involved.  Furthermore, it shows how the lines between the traditional established “fields” and “disciplines” are fading and how research is becoming more and more interdisciplinary.