Dr. Eric J. Nestler, Director of Friedman Brain Institute at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City discussed with Scientific American how environmental stresses that we encounter everyday play a role in our genetic makeup. Dr. Nestler describes throughout the interview how through the process of genetic modifications, the expression of genes in the human genome can be regulated as a result of certain environmental pressures experienced by the individual. In certain cases, these genetic modifications can be passed down to our offspring via epigenetic inheritance. While the idea of epigenetic inheritance may sound daunting to the general population, it is a concept that most people have become familiar with. Dr. Nestler provides a great example in the case of a female mouse who is fed a high-fat diet. The progeny of this mouse, before they are ever exposed to any diet, are likely to be more vulnerable to becoming obese due to the inherited genetic modifications as a result of their mother's high-fat diet. Whether we are discussing an individual who is more prone to becoming obese or has a greater risk to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, through the study of epigenetics, researchers are discovering that it is not Nature or Nurture, but Nature and Nurture that play a vital role in our genetic makeup. But are these changes permanent? Why should I have to pay for the experiences of my parents?
TB or Tuberculosis seems like one of those diseases that should have gone by the wayside years ago with other “old” diseases like polio and diphtheria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 10 Million people were infected worldwide, and more than 9,000 cases were reported in the United States. So why hasn’t TB become one of those diseases we only read about in textbooks? Multidrug resistance. Successful TB treatment is reliant on the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria being susceptible to first-line antibiotics. Unfortunately, a large percentage of new TB cases are antibiotic resistant, and this is one of the leading reasons that Tuberculosis is still a major concern across the globe. The proclivity for TB strains to be multidrug resistance is also why researchers are harnessing technologies such as next-generation sequencing to help find a solution.
DNA in My Garden:What is that bug that keeps eating my cantaloupes?Or maybe you are having issues with some aphids that have been attacking grandma’s blue ribbon county fair roses that seem almost post-apocalyptic in their resistance to every method you have tried to wipe them out, including throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at them. Maybe you have discovered something that needs further elucidating, something slightly different that can either change your approach in your gardening arsenal or something as big that a thesis is begging to be researched and written.
So you have a strange insect that has been poking holes in the bottom of all those luscious cantaloupes you have been tending to. You cut that cantaloupe open and something vibrantly colored and slightly vicious looking locks eyes with you, something that stumps even the precursory Internet search. Instead of calling the fire brigade, pull out some tweezers and drop the little guy into a sterile container. Then take some deep breaths and remind yourself it is all for the good of science.
Fall is here, but the dog days of summer are still hanging around…well in the lab anyways. The power of DNA sequencing is being ‘unleashed’ and continues to bring light to the canine genome. By combining genome sequencing with bioinformatic pipelines that are able to identify SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), researchers are able to elucidate differences in haplotype structure across several breeds and compare these variations against large-scale dog populations. These types of variations are similar to the variations found in human populations, and by understanding these patterns, researchers are able to better design gene mapping experiments for complex diseases.
The variation in dog breeds is extremely wide in physical, behavioral, and disease risk. Overall body size varies 40-fold in large and small breeds. More than 350 inherited diseases have been identified in domesticated dogs. Most of these diseases predominate in a single breed or a small group for breeds. Identifying gene variations that are associated with these diseases makes it possible to reduce their occurrence through selective breeding. For example, Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder is commonly found in Terriers and Shetland Sheep dogs.