Researchers report that they have made a breakthrough in understanding how a powerful antibiotic agent is made in nature. Their discovery solves a decades-old mystery, and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules, many of which are likely to be medically useful.
The scientists have made proteins with central cavities, or channels, running through them. The team believes that these will be useful in designing new protein functions, such as catalysts for breaking down fats, or molecules that span cell membranes to allow new communications between cells.
How did life originate? And can scientists create life? These questions not only occupy the minds of scientists interested in the origin of life, but also researchers working with technology of the future. If we can create artificial living systems, we may not only understand the origin of life - we can also revolutionize the future of technology.
Scientists hope a major breakthrough could lead to more effective methods for detoxifying dangerous pollutants like PCBs and dioxins. The result is a culmination of 15 years of research and has been published in Nature. It details how certain organisms manage to lower the toxicity of pollutants.
Organisms require flexible genomes in order to adapt to changes in the environment. Scientists have studied genomes of entire populations. They want to know why individuals differ from each other and how these differences are encoded in the DNA. In two review papers they discuss why DNA sequencing of entire groups can be an efficient and cost-effective way to answer these questions.
Researchers have introduced a new approach for achieving a highly selective, recognition of designed nine DNA base pairs. The strategy involves the nickel-promoted assembly of a peptide derived from a transcription factor, and a small molecule equipped with a metal-binding unit that acts as heterodimerizing staple.
Scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a 'smart' material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. The work could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow valves and controlled drug release systems.
A new paper examines security risks and policy questions related to the growing field of synthetic biology. While the author doesn't think the field is ripe for exploitation by terrorists, it does highlight significant gaps in our understanding of the nuts and bolts of lab work in synthetic biology that can contribute to security risks.