Biology

Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes the sequencing of the genome of the Iberian ribbed newt, also known as Spanish ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl) (photo © Peter Halasz), a salamander that lives in the Iberian Peninsula and in Morocco. A team of scientists led by Professor András Simon of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, performed the genetic analysis of this animal finding a family of genes that could provide new clues to its ability to regenerate complex tissues. The team also carried out genetic modification experiments.

Structure of the FGF10-FGFR2b complex

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research that identified a genetic mutation that according to the authors may have contributed to the development of certain organs in various species of vertebrates, including humans. This is a very old mutation, which may have occurred more than 700 million years ago and yet it may have had consequences long after, for example in the development of lungs and inner ear but also in forelimbs.

Some results of the CRISPR/dCas9 tests

An article published in the journal “Cell” describes the experimentation on mice of a variant of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic modification system to treat a number of diseases. A team of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies used a version of CRISPR/Cas9 that doesn’t modify the DNA avoiding the risk of causing unexpected mutations but can activate one or more genes creating an epigenetic therapy for diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, acute kidney disease or muscular dystrophy.

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes a research that through a cutting-edge statistical analysis tested evolutionary models commonly used in the field of phylogenetics to understand which is the most ancient group of animals that appeared on Earth. A team of researchers concluded that it’s the group of sponges (photo ©Yoruno), confirming some previous research and contradicting others that indicated ctenophores as the oldest in a dispute that’s been going on for years.

A comparison between magnetic tape and bacteria as tapes (Image courtesy Wang Lab/Columbia University Medical Center)

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the development of a system that uses the CRISPR-Cas genetic manipulation system to store information in living cells transforming them into a biological equivalent of a magnetic tape. A team of researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center modified a bacterium of the Escherichia coli family transforming it into a potential diagnostic or environmental monitoring tool thanks to its ability to record data.