SBE's BioReach Issue 01

 SBE's NEWSLETTER: BIOREACH

Issue 01

POST 1

OXIDANTS CAN SLOW DOWN CELL AGEING

Benefits of anti-oxidants are immense; and one of them is the neutralization of oxidants. Oxidants are chemical compounds which in higher concentrations can damage the DNA, cell membrane, proteins and also the normal metabolism of the cell. Although thought to be only harmful, a recent study by Chalmers University of Technology showed how a well-known oxidant called Hydrogen peroxide can slow down the ageing of yeast cells. The researchers studied the enzyme TsaI, a part of peroxiredoxin anti-oxidant group. The study shows how TsaI controls a central signaling pathway in which it oxidises an amino acid in Protein Kinase A, an important enzyme for regulation of metabolism. Tasl reduces the kinase activity by weakening the portion of the enzyme that binds to the other molecules, this in turn downregulates the entire cell division process and stimulates their defence against stress. The study also shows how TsaI does not affect the levels of Hydrogen peroxide activity in aged yeast cells, rather it uses less amounts of peroxide to reduce the activity of a central signaling pathway when the cells are getting fewer calories. This also slows down cell division and stimulates the cell’s defence, which causes them to age slowly. Through this research, scientists hope to come closer to understanding the molecular aspect of various common diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and to also develop peroxiredoxin stimulating drugs to combat ageing in cells.


POST 2

COHESIN: A key player behind parental chromosome matching during meiosis

 

Meiosis is a distinctive cell division type that takes place during gametogenesis, i.e, the formation of sperm and egg in males and females respectively. Here, both the maternal and paternal chromosomes get aligned through Homologous Chromosome Pairing. This recombination results in the partial exchange of genetic information between the two. Without proper recombination, the gamete formation cannot take place. This Homologous Chromosome Pairing process has a mechanism which monitors it and this monitoring mechanism was recently studied by researchers at Kumamoto University’s Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics (IMEG) in collaboration with the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Quantitative Biosciences. Through this study, they found out that the key player in this checking is a protein called Cohesin. Although in previous studies HORMAD1 protein was considered to be the main player, the one which brought the two proteins Cohesin and SYCP2 together during the process of matching of chromosomes, it is now confirmed through gene knockout and genome editing that this entire system works only when Cohesion is involved. It became clear that Cohesin acts as a marker to call HORMAD1 to the chromosome prior to the pairing. Thus, this research could be potentially useful in helping with advances in the field of reproductive medicine and cure of infertility.


POST 3

SCIENTISTS UNRAVEL THE MYSTERY OF AMAZON TREE DEATHS

A study undertaken by the Universities of Birmingham and Leeds in collaboration with more than 100 scientists was the first large-scale study conducted to analyze the cause of tree death in the Amazon. The main finding was that the mean growth rate of the tree-species is the main risk factor behind the Amazon tree mortality, with faster growing trees dying off at a younger age. This helps in predicting and planning the future of the forest which has more than 15,000 different species of trees. It was found out that faster growing trees die more, which means that they have shorter live spans and their services of carbon sequestration is also declining at a faster rate. The huge amount of data for this study was provided by The RAINFOR network which had more than 30 years of contributions from 100 scientists. It included records from 189 one-hectare plots, each visited and monitored every 3 years. In this entire study, more than 124,000 living trees and 18,000 tree deaths were studied and analysed. When the trees died, the researchers followed a fixed protocol to discover the actual cause of their death. This ensured that their study goes in the right path and everybody is on the same page with regards to the planning. Hopefully, this grand research and analysis will prevent the collapsing of the Earth’s lungs.


POST 4

NEW RICKETTSIA SPECIES FOUND IN DOGS

Rickettsia pathogens are categorized into four groups of which the spotted-fever group is the most common and has most of the known species. These are transmitted by ticks and there are more than 25 species of tick-borne, spotted-fever group Rickettsia species worldwide. The R. rickettsii species is the most virulent and dangerous and the only known species to cause clinical disease in dogs in North America. Symptoms of the disease the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) caused by them are similar in dogs and humans, some of which include fever, lethargy, weight loss, inflammation etc. In 2018-19, three dogs from the states of Tennessee, Illinois and Oklahoma with exposure to ticks and showing RMSF associated symptoms were taken, and their blood was collected to test for R. rickettsii. The blood samples reacted positively to antibody tests for R. rickettsii but when researchers at NC State did the PCR analysis of the pathogen, it was found to be only 95% similar to R. rickettsii. Further studying of several different regions of the bacterial DNA and also the creation of a phylogenetic tree confirmed that the pathogen isolated from the samples were a new species altogether. The researchers are now trying to locate its geographical range and they have also asked veterinarians to collect ticks associated with dogs who show RMSF symptoms for testing. The advance studies and analyses of this pathogen will hopefully lead to a cure as well.


POST 5

NEW MUTATION IDENTIFIED IN SARS- COV -2 GENOME

Team of researchers at Nitte university Center for Science Education and Research (NUCSER),  have identified a novel mutation in the genome of covid-19 virus. This mutation affects the E gene which encodes for the viral envelope protein which is important for the structural organization of the virus. The E-gene is the target for detection of virus by RT-PCR technique. Usually the RT-PCR for Covid-19 diagnosis takes place by two steps, first is the screening test which involves the detection of E-gene, and if the result is positive, confirmatory test is followed which involves the detection of RdRp genes encoding for enzyme involved in viral replication or the detection of N gene which encodes for a nucleocapsid protein.  In certain laboratories samples may be negative for E-gene but show positive for RdRp gene or N gene, depending on the confirmatory test used. Since in most of the laboratories the confirmatory test will be done only if the screening test shows positive. So, for those samples that test negative for E gene will not be processed for further confirmatory test and will be reported as negative. Researchers observed that in 34 viral genomes from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi and Odisha, reported a partial deletion in the C- terminal region of the E-gene which would affect the virus assembly, and leads to viruses having lower virulence.

Sarbajit Ray on behalf of SBE-VIT

Author & Editor

Hope you enjoyed the acticle, stay tuned for more such interesting articles and events from SBE-VIT!!

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