It's hard sometimes when you're out of synch with the rest of the world. While my fellow ScienceBloggers have been obsessing about breasts, I've been really amused by the genetics of ear wax.
Eh, what's that you say?
Yes, it's true. Back in March, when Nature Genetics published this paper from Yoshiura (and friends), this bit of fun just went in one ear and out the other. But then I read this really funny blog ... Read more
One of the commenters on a previous post, pointed out that proteases have pretty diverse structures, even though they also share a common function.
What else could I do? I had to take a look. I found structures for chymotrypsin (from a cow) and subtilisin (from a soil bacteria, Bacillus lentus) and used Cn3D to see how they compare (below the fold).
Both enzymes are proteases - that is they cut the peptide bonds in proteins that hold amino acids together. Many of you use ... Read more
Last week, we decided to compare a human mitochondrial DNA sequence with the mitochondrial sequences of our cousins, the apes, and find out how similar these sequences really are.
The answer is: really, really, similar.
And you can see that, in the BLAST graph, below the fold.
A quick glance shows that the ape with the most similar mitochondrial sequence is Pan paniscus, the pigmy chimpanzee. Next, is Pan troglodytes, the chimp that we see in movies, and last we have Gorilla ... Read more
It seems kind of funny to be thinking of anti-freeze at the moment, with heat waves blanketing the U.S., but all this hot weather makes me miss winter. And so I decided it was time to re-post this from the original DigitalBio.
Winter is coming soon, my bike ride to work was pretty chilly, and it seems like a good time to be thinking about antifreeze. Antifreeze proteins, that is. Antifreeze proteins help keep pudgy yellow meal worms from turning into frozen wormsicles and artic flounder from becoming frozen flat fish.
We've had a good time in the past few last weeks, identifying unknown sequences and learning our way around a GenBank nucleotide record. To some people, it seems that this is all there is to doing digital biology. They would, of course, be wrong.
We can do much, much more than identifying DNA sequences and obtaining crucial information, like who left their DNA behind on that little blue dress.
Today, we're going to a deeper question about who we are and who are our relatives.
Drumroll, okay, here it comes:
How similar are DNA sequences between humans and apes? ... Read more
Trade publications; such as catalogs, technical bulletins, and web sites; are a valuable source of information for students in biotechnology-related courses. Not only do catalogs and technical publications provide current information, but they also contain a wealth of useful facts and physical constants that biologists need on-the-job. Further, using catalogs in the classroom mimics the way that science is carried out in the real world. In the research lab, scientists and technicians often rely on catalogs, technical bulletins, and web sites, for quick and useful information.
I probably ... Read more
A few years ago, the General Biology students at the Johns Hopkins University began to interrogate the unseen world. During this semester-long project, they study the ecosystems of the Homewood campus, and engage in novel research by exploring the microbial ecosystems in different sections of the campus. Biology lab students gather environmental samples from different campus ... Read more
Last week, we embarked on an adventure with BLAST.
BLAST, short for Basic Alignment Search Tool, is a collection of programs, written by scientists at the NCBI (1) that are used to compare sequences of proteins or nucleic acids. BLAST is used in multiple ways, but last week my challenge to you, dear readers, was to a pick a sequence, any sequence, from a set of 16 unknown sequences and use BLAST to identify that sequence.
This ... Read more
Although, I certainly didn't believe it. Truly in nature, it can be described as nonpareil.
With all the years that I've heard (or taught) that all DNA is antiparallel, it was hard to believe my own eyes when I saw this structure.
Yet here is, on the screen, parallel DNA.
The image that I posted a couple of days ago came from this same structure. In that image ... Read more