The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Friday Science Review: January 13, 2012

Disruption of Gatekeeper Genes Causes Two-fold Mutation

University of Toronto ♦ Published in EMBO, January 10, 2012

Certain genes have a critical role in maintaining the stability of the genome by exerting a certain control over DNA metabolism. Researchers at the Donnelly Centre in Toronto have discovered that disruption of these so called ‘gatekeeper’ genes has consequences beyond disregulating the direct influence they have on genomic stability. As expected, perturbing gatekeeper genes led to spontaneous DNA damage, however, this damage became amplified downstream. Measurements of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) in budding yeast showed that expression of this enzyme increased as DNA damage occurred, and that RNR activity was associated with an increase in dNTP pools. A second wave of mutation occurred as yeast cells were then capable of synthesizing DNA in the presence of hydroxyurea in the next S phase.

Movement and Breathing, Where’s the Link?

University of Montreal ♦ Published in PNAS, January 10, 2012

As we exercise the rate at which we respire increases, and can do so dramatically. However, there is much to be elucidated in terms of the neural connections that elicit the body’s breathing response to movement. To interrogate this matter, researchers used the lamprey as a model. They first identified the region of the brain that was associated with an increase in respiration. In lampreys, stimulation of the mesencephalic locomotor region (LMR) increased the rate of respiration. Researchers then used a technique called ‘patch-clamp’, that is capable of taking electrophysiological recordings from single neurons, and used it to show that neurons in the dorsal region of the MLR are directly connected to a respiratory generator. To cross-check their findings, an inhibitor of the innervated region of the respiratory generator was used to show that inhibition at this site did indeed reduce respiration.

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