Posts tagged DNA

DNA Seen Through the Eyes of a Coder

With a background in computer programming and an undergraduate degree in molecular genetics, its interesting to see the comparisons at multiple levels – and it looks fairly accurate to me at quick glance. There are some other interesting things that could be covered such as methylation patterns and supercoiled DNA (from a genetics point of view), but hopefully the author will keep updating his page — check it out:
DNA seen through the eyes of a coder.

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Bioengineering Gene Expression

A recent article at Sciencedaily called Bioengineers Devise ‘Dimmer Swith’ To Regulate Gene Expression In Mammal Cells discusses new technology being developed that combined a targeted DNA repressor protein, and a custom-designed RNAi strand. The repressor is thought to prevent most transcription, but in the event not all genes are repressed, the RNAi is thought to hunt out those transcripts, and destroy them.

Another chemical called Isopropyl-â-thiogalactopyranoside acts as a “dimmer” that can block the repressor protein. Thus by altering the amount of this chemical, repressor and RNAi, they can regulate a gene’s expression. Cool.

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Metagenomics – Emerging Field

Metagenomics is defined as the study of genomes recovered from environmental samples as opposed to from clonal cultures (wikipedia). The National Research Council says that these new capabilities in genomics will revolutionize understanding of the microbial world.

The Research Council report was requested by several federal agencies interested in the potential of metagenomics and how best to encourage its success. In particular, the committee was asked to recommend promising directions for future studies. It concluded that the most efficient way to boost the field of metagenomics overall would be to establish a Global Metagenomics Initiative that includes a few large-scale, internationally coordinated projects and numerous medium- and small-size studies.

Metagenomics studies begin by extracting DNA from all the microbes living in a particular environmental sample; there could be thousands or even millions of organisms in one sample.

Please see the article at Science Daily for more information.

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Chicken McNuggets

Okay, this may not have to do with biotech, but since there was mention of mutations, mutagens and tumorigenic additives, I figured it “could fit”. In any case, I loved McD’s Chicken McNuggets (notice the past tense there…) until I read this article, that got its founding from the book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

Apparently McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are composed of 38 ingredients, and are 56% corn! The book goes into each in detail, but I want to concentrate on the genetics aspect of this. Here is a list of chemical additives that are harmful to your DNA:

dimethylpolysiloxene: suspected carcinogen, established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector. It is also flammable.

tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): antioxidant derived from petroleum. TBHQ is a form of butane (lighter fluid). FDA limits addition of TBHQ to less than 0.02% percent of the oil per nugget [Suggestion: choose hotdogs over chicken mcnuggets in a spur of the moment eating contest.]

So, what are you eating next time you go out to McDonald’s?

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