Molecular Biology

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for Molecular Biology

This three-dimensional reconstruction of an amyloid fibril (found at Discover) was created by Nikolaus Grigorieff and his colleagues at Brandeis University, by computer processing of a transmission electron cryomicroscopy image. It is the most detailed image yet of the abnormally folded protein which accumulates to form the senile plaques that are a pathological hallmark of…

Synapse proteomics & brain evolution

When it comes to human brain evolution, it is often said that size matters. The human cerebral cortex is much larger than that of other primates, and therefore its expansion must have been a vital feature of human evolution. Researchers have therefore emphasized the importance of encephalization, the process by which brain mass increased dramatically…

Gene Genie 33

Logo by Ricardo at My Biotech Life Welcome to the 33rd edition of Gene Genie, the blog carnival devoted to genes and genetic diseases. In this edition, there is a strong emphasis on cancer. There’s also a focus on leukodystrophy, and a special section on personalized genetics.

Rabid brain circuits

The brain is an organ of staggering complexity, consisting of hundreds of billions of cells (and tens of thousands of different cell types) which form millions of specialized circuits that are organized into thousands of discrete areas. Neuroscientists have a number of methods for investigating brain circuitry and the connectivity of neurons within circuits. One…

What with the current debate about the use of “smart” drugs by academics, I thought it pertinent to republish this old piece from January of last year, about a bacterial toxin which has been shown to enhance fear conditioning and spatial memory in mice.

The mouse brain gene atlas

Researchers from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have produced an “atlas” of the activity of nearly 17,000 genes in 5 different regions of the mouse central nervous system. Using microarrays, the NIA team measured the levels of mRNA transcripts in the cortex, hippocampus, striatum, cerebellum and spinal cord. Samples were taken from young,…

The 100 colours of the Brainbow

Researchers from Harvard University have developed a remarkable genetic technique that enabled them to visualize complete neuronal circuits in unprecedented detail, by using multiple distinct colours to label individual neurons. The technique, called Brainbow, works in much the same way as a television uses the three primary colours to generate all the colour hues. With…

Craig Venter creates synthetic chromosome

The Guardian reports that Craig Venter has created a synthetic chromosome: [We] can reveal that a team of 20 top scientists assembled by Mr Venter, led by the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, has already constructed a synthetic chromosome, a feat of virtuoso bio-engineering never previously achieved. Using lab-made chemicals, they have painstakingly stitched together a…

Gene Genie Number 16

(Gene Genie logo created by by Ricardo Vidal) Welcome to the 16th edition of Gene Genie, the carnival of genes and genetic diseases. In this edition, genetics gets personal. The recent publication of Craig Venter’s genome (and, before that, James Watson’s) was big news. It ushered in the new era of personal genomics, to which…

Diet & brain evolution: another item on the menu

At some point in the distant past, there was a dramatic increase in brain size in our hominid ancestors. From approximately 2 million years ago, to the present day, brain volume in the hominid lineage has increased by a factor of 3.5: the brain of Homo erectus had a volume of about 400 milliliters, while…