It is tricky enough to get a soccer team of eleven players to cooperate and work as one – but what would it be like if there were 25,000 players on the field? What would the rules be like, and how many referees would it take to make sure that the rules were followed? As it happens, our genomes consist of networks of roughly 25,000 interacting genes, and these networks are obviously very stable and resilient to changed conditions. Out of billions of cells, not a single one falls into chaos. How can order be maintained? A question that scientists have been pondering since the 1960s may now have been answered by theoretical physicists at Lund University, Sweden.
In the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, professor Carsten Peterson and his collaborators Björn Samuelsson and Carl Troein demonstrate how this is possible. The American physician and scientist Stuart Kauffman – a pioneer in the field, who formulated and attempted to solve the problem as early as 1967 – is their co-author.
At any given time, each of the 25,000 genes in a cell may or may not be producing a protein – each gene is on or off, to use language from the world of computers. A gene can affect other genes, turning them on or off. A simple case is that two genes are controlling a third gene. To activate this third gene, both the controlling genes might need to be active, or maybe only one or the other.
Göran Frankel | alfa
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
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21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine