Cognitive Daily

My picks from ResearchBlogging.org

In case you missed them, here are the posts I chose as “Editor’s Selections” yesterday for ResearchBlogging.org.

Also, my column is up today on SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. Today I’m discussing unheralded research from the field of molecular biology. Here’s a taste:

A July study led by Stephen McMahon describes another less-heralded type of mimicry, a biochemical forgery that can have potentially deadly consequences even for humans. “Dr. Jim,” a research scientist whose blog, Mental Indigestion, strives to “make science more digestible,” explained the research in a blog post last month. This mimicry takes place at the molecular level, when a bacteriophage (a virus that preys on bacteria) known as Tn916 attacks its victims. Normally bacteria are able to defend against the foreign DNA of bacteriophages by attacking and breaking it into pieces. But Tn916 creates a protein that has a similar structure to the bacterium’s own DNA, which means the unlucky microbe cannot mount a defense without damaging itself in the process.

The protein mimic is strikingly compact and elongated, unlike most proteins. It even possesses a hint of a helical structure, just like DNA. When the invading protein’s acidic groups … are superimposed on the bacteria’s DNA … they match the DNA structure almost perfectly. This clever disguise allows the Tn916 bacteriophage to exploit bacteria’s reproductive systems for its own reproduction.

The rest is here.

Comments

  1. #1 Jim
    October 2, 2009

    Thanks for the kind feature. I’m glad the subject matter piqued your interest sufficiently to warrant a column in Seed Magazine ;-)

    Best,

    Jim