Posts Tagged “gene”

Yesterday, I was watching an episode of “The Doctors” where they were talking about a new study that completely amazed me…It was carried out at the Karolinska Institutet & the findings come in favor of men, mostly!! They found a link between a person’s genetic makeup & their relationship status. I have to admit that is pretty interesting.

The gene studied was AVPR1A, which actually has to do with one of the receptors for ADH, predisposes men to make unhealthy decisions, when it comes to relationships, once they have the allele 334. That is how it got its name, which it is pretty much now famous for as “The Commitment Gene”. Presence of two copies makes matter even worse…It is funny once you start thinking hmm..and how did they discover that!! The study was carried out on 550 sets of twins where they had to complete a survey evaluating their life in general & specifically when it comes to relationships..whether they are married, divorced, not ready to commit yet..

Luckily for the ladies, these genes can’t really dictate what a person does because that is all about his choices…but after all, it would be added on to the growing pile of excuses :). I wonder in the future if women would ask their future spouses to first undergo an examination and search for that gene…Who knows what the future might bring us!

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To yet again prove Darwin’s theory, in a new study done in the University of Wisconsin, researchers have discovered that eight hearing-related genes have evolved over a time range of 40,000 years to cope with the ever-changing complex nature of verbal communication between human beings. Some of these changes are as recent as 2000 years ago.

As sound waves enter the ear, stereocilia “shown in orange” move. This movement is converted to electrical signals headed for the brain.

Seven of those genes are concerned with the production of proteins which make up the stereocilia & membranes that surround it. The 8th gene makes up structures which transmit sound waves to the inner ear.

Since communication requires both a talking tongue on one end & an ear capable of hearing on the other, the genetic changes concerning the ear must have favored a portion of the population to become better adapted to the “hearing process”. In any defense, they could have been able to detect on a more precise level, the emotional status of the person behind the spoken words, point out unconfidence in a specific speech, or even seperate out a conversation in the midst of a crowd.

This discovery certainly challenges the idea that languages have emerged from a single mutation which in somehow allowed the tongue to correctly twist, fold up & down, curve around within the buccal cavity & create the familiar sounds we know today.

This shows that not only human evolution has been going on since humans, or even neandertals for that fact, have existed but it continues all for the sake of a more prosperous life on our mother Earth.

Source & Image Credit: Science News

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In a study conducted by researchers in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, physical activity has proved to counteract FTO gene “fat, mass, and obesity-associated gene” in a group of European descendants who resided in the USA, known as Old Order Amish.

FTO gene has recently been linked to obesity & increased BMI “Body Mass Index” in numerous studies. Europeans usually have one or two copies of a variation of this gene. The research has enforced this prior assumption but brought, yet, another advantage since the study was done on 704 men & women of similar descent and thus similar genetic makeup, which what makes them ideal for genetic research. This helped researchers study the effect of physical activity on the expression of this gene.

In subjects, who were physically active throughout their daily routine, having multiple copies of the FTO gene didn’t seem to affect their BMI, despite the fact that in those, who were less active, a link between their BMI and FTO gene was obvious. This suggests that the choices one has to make in everyday life can deeply impact our body’s response to its own genes.

In order to compare the different variations in this gene, subjects were asked to wear accelerometers to measure their body movement on a 24-hour basis for seven days. They were then classified accordingly in order to conduct a comparative analysis. The genetic analysis revealed that 26 SNPs in the FTO gene were linked to BMI.

In the future, this may help tailor methods to prevent obesity in genetically susceptible individuals. So, after all we can’t blame it on our genes. Our decisions might in fact make up who we are & who we will become.

Source: Medical News today

Original research paper: Physical Activity and the Association of Common FTO Gene Variants With Body Mass Index and Obesity. PMID: 18779467 (Vote for the abstract on Biowizard)

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July 2008: Santa Cruz, University of California

A surprising type of gene regulation found in mammals under the influence of RIBOZYME

ribozyme, as the name implies, is an RNA molecule that can catalyze a chemical reaction. Although, RNA is mostly known to play a role in the encoding of genetic info, leaving the catalysis of biological reactions up to enzymes made out of protein. Now, scientists are discovering that RNA might be taking part in both.

The hammerhead ribozyme, previously known to be associated with viroids “plant viruses”, has been found in mice, rats, horses, and other mammals, embedded within certain genes & controlling their expression. Example of such genes are those involved in the body’s immune response & metabolism of bone. In these genes, the mRNA contains sequences that form a hammerhead ribozyme.

The hammerhead ribozyme is a self-cleaving molecule that cuts itself in two. That way, the protein translation is prevented & therefore, no gene expression takes place. To turn the process back on, the self-cleaving action is stopped. Exactly what shuts off the ribozyme action is not known, but assumed to be there.

Two interesting points come up now:

1. The hammerhead ribozyme sequences first appeared in the genomes of rat & mice and then turned up in other mammals but was not found in the corresponding human genes which suggests that a different mechanism DOES exist regulating those genes in humans.

2. The genes, being regulated by a hammerhead ribozyme, are involved in the immune response & in bone metabolism. Such finding can be targeted by the pharmaceutical industry to combat certain autoimmune diseases & bone disorders, which offers potential for better & safter healthcare treatment in the future.

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