While the nucleus of a cell may be its command headquarters, mitochondria are equally vital—they are the power plants of the cell, and without them all cellular activity would quickly and irrevocably come to a halt. Testifying to their origins as once free-living bacteria, mitochondria have their own DNA, comprising 37 genes in humans on a single circular chromosome. However, most of the mitochondrias presumed ancestral genes have been taken into the cells nucleus, where they are under the strict control of their host.
The transplanted mitochondrial genes have been faithfully doing their job under new management since they were first appropriated, probably hundreds of millions of years ago. But in this issue, Miria Ricchetti and colleagues show that the over 200 mitochondrial genetic fragments also integrated into the nuclear genome may not be quite so benign. They have continued to invade the human genome, even into the present day, and a large proportion of them take up residence within nuclear genes, possibly disrupting them and causing human diseases.
Scanning the entire human genome, Ricchetti and colleagues found a total of 211 nuclear sequences of mitochondrial origin (NUMTs). Of these, they selected 42, which appeared to be the most recent integrations, for detailed study. Among several important observations, they found that these NUMTs were much less likely to be found in non-coding "junk" DNA and much more likely to insert themselves within highly active genes. Such insertions can cause disease, as shown by the recent discovery of a hemophilia patient with a NUMT interrupting his clotting factor gene.
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
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02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy