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Synonymous Codons: Another Gene Expression Regulation Mechanism

Some words in English have alternate spellings, but sound the same.  If the sound is the same, how would a recording device tell them apart?  Would it make any difference?  It shouldn’t, but now scientists are realizing that genetic codons spelled differently can influence the protein formed – even when the spellings, called “synonymous codons”, […]

Nerve Traffic Cop Identified

What makes signals go in one direction in neurons?  It’s important, because a reflex signal from a bump on your knee needs to go in the direction of the controlling muscle and on to the brain, not any which way.  Is there some kind of traffic cop that directs the placement of “one way” signs […]

Embryonic Stem Cell Researchers Reeling from Judge’s Decision

Political conservatives have often been stunned by lone judges overturning the will of the people.  This time, liberals in support of embryonic stem cell research are reeling from the decision of a federal judge that halts funding of such research that was recently energized by the President.     Federal Judge Royce Lamberth’s August 23 […]

Clever Animals Amaze and Inspire

The living world is an endless source of wonder and inspiration.  There’s an octopus that does a convincing imitation of a flatfish (Science Daily, Live Science), and a red crab species that emerges from its lethargic life around Christmas and migrates miles to the sea by the millions (PhysOrg).  There’s a tiny frog that can […]

Specialized Molecules Make Cells Work

Reports continue to show that vital cell processes depend on finely-tuned proteins and RNA molecules.  Most of the papers that discuss these specialized molecules fail to mention how they might have evolved, as shown in three papers in the recent issue of Science. Walker with muscle:  A paper by Kaya and Higuchi from the University […]

Stem Cell News: Adults Still Lead

Stem cells are still hot.  Most of the significant findings are coming from adult stem cells (AS) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) rather than embryonic stem cells (ES).  For example, a PhysOrg article described progress at the University of Michigan in predicting what cell types stem cells will become.  Nothing was said in the […]

Explosion of the Blob

Some scientists are looking into the folds of a sponge for clues about the Cambrian Explosion – the sudden emergence of all the major body plans in the geological blink of an eye.  What they are finding is more complexity than a first glance at the simple creatures would expect.     A draft genome […]

Fine-Tuning Found in Life’s Rotary Engine

The universal energy currency in living things is ATP.  To produce the vast quantities of this molecule required by life 24 x 7, cells employ banks of rotary engines called ATP Synthase, which we have reported on previously in these pages many times.  ATP synthase has become somewhat of a mascot of intelligent design, because […]

Cell Regulation Doesn’t Just Happen

Scientists are finding that it’s not just having the right parts that makes a body go; it’s having those parts controlled by the right regulators.  Recent stories make the case with their headlines: “‘Guardian of the Genome’: Protein Helps Prevent Damaged DNA in Yeast,” announced Science Daily.  “Scientists find gas pedal – and brake – […]

Electricity Forms Your Heart

Did you know your heart is an electrical appliance?  That’s right.  Currents of electrical ions are vital to its function as a contractile organ.  Now, researchers at the University of California have found another thing electricity does for your heart: it guides the developing heart into the proper shape.  This is a key study showing […]

Darwinists Get Sexy

The origin of sex titillates many evolutionary biologists.  On the one hand, animals and plants have such interesting ways of getting together.  But on the other hand, sex seems too costly to have originated by natural selection.  Some recent articles provide new evolutionary speculations on the origin of sex – but simultaneously undermine previous speculations. […]

Bacteria Too Complex To Be Primitive Eukaryote Ancestors

In the search for the most primitive life forms on earth, bacteria would certainly make the list.  They are tiny, one-celled, and have small genomes.  Why, then, did Patrick Forterre and Simonetta Gribaldo of the Pasteur Institute say in PNAS,1 “we should definitely stop thinking of bacteria in terms of simple ‘lower’ organisms”?  For the […]

Proteins Fold Who Knows How

One of the biggest mysteries remaining in cell biology is how proteins fold.  Proteins start out as chains of amino acids (polypeptides) as they exit the ribosome.  Most of them spontaneously fold into their “native” three-dimensional structures, where they will go to work as enzymes, structural materials or other key players in cell life.  About […]

Your Inner Locomotive Revealed

Visualize an old locomotive train roaring down the tracks.  One of the characteristic images that surely comes to mind is the oscillating motion of the coupling rods on the wheels.  The long rods that connected the wheels provided a way to convert heat energy from the steam into mechanical energy (example video on YouTube).  It […]

Heal the Blind with Stem Cells

Have you heard that some cases of corneal blindness can be cured by stem cells #– from the person’s own eyes?  New Scientist recounted some recent successes for victims blinded in one eye by burns or acid.  Stem cells taken from the limbus, a disk surrounding the iris, and transplanted onto the damaged cornea, were […]
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