Re-think Genes: New Mechanism of Gene Expression Discovered

If I removed once cell at a time from your body, at what point would you not be you? catiestewart.com

If I removed once cell at a time from your body, at what point would you not be you? catiestewart.com

Researchers are on a seemingly endless quest to discover precisely how DNA and RNA function. A great deal remains a mystery in the field of genetics. In fact up until around one year ago, when scientists captured a photo of DNA, no one knew with absolute certainty what it looked like. The double helix idea was always just a theory.

In a recent ground breaking discovery researchers from the University of Chicago witnessed a never before scene mechanism of gene expression. The researchers found a single gene that encodes two separate proteins from the same sequence of messenger RNA. Let me explain.

Related Article: Women Who Give Birth to Men Have Male DNA in Their Brain for Life

This is from a nucleic acid photoshoot. www.tutorvista.com

This is from a nucleic acid photoshoot. http://www.tutorvista.com

DNA and RNA are similar in that they both contain a genetic blueprint of an organism. They do however differ in several ways. First, RNA comes in three forms: messenger, transfer, and ribosomal.

mRNA (messenger)- The function of mRNA is to carry genetic information from the DNA in the nucleus to the ribosomes of a cell.

tRNA (transfer)- The function of tRNA is to bring the correct amino acid to the ribosomes in the cystosol.

rRNA (ribosomal)- The function of rRNA is to create new ribosomes.

They also differ in that they each incorporate a different sugar molecule in their structure. Also, where DNA has two strands of nucleotides, RNA has only one strand. For the sake of simplicity think of RNA as DNA’s co-conspirator in the continuation of life. In fact, some researchers speculate that life originally depended entirely on self-replicating RNA, rather than the DNA, RNA, and proteins that it depends on to proliferate today. 

Related Article: Deep Storage Project

So, up until this point we thought we had a pretty decent, overall idea of how DNA and RNA functioned. This study just came out of left field and whispered into the collective ear of geneticists around the world: “You know nothing…”

This bundle of RNA and proteins is called a Ribisome.www.itsokaytobesmart.com

This bundle of RNA and proteins is called a Ribisome.www.itsokaytobesmart.com

The study is a big deal because it is the first time that scientists have ever viewed anything even remotely similar. According to Christopher Gomez, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Chicago, who led the study,

This is the first example of a mechanism in a higher organism in which one gene creates two proteins from the same mRNA transcript, simultaneously. It represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how genes ultimately encode proteins.

There is a special sequence in the mRNA known as an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), a site that tells ribosomes to create a protein from the mRNA sequence. The IRES is normally found at the beginning of an RNA sequence, however, in the particular mRNA sequence that the researchers viewed the IRES was in the middle of the sequence, alerting ribosomes to initiate the creation of a second protein from the same sequence.

Related Article: Titan’s Atmosphere Can Make DNA

This is especially exciting news since it creates a beacon of hope for further applicable genetic discovery, not just DNA origami. Just think, we only recently learned in the last couple decades that genetic predisposition isn’t set in stone, and that epigenetics allow us to alter our genetic expression and the genetic expression and predisposition of our children.

You can check your ancestry, health risks, and more through a DNA check that costs $99.

 

Sources:

http://www.newscientist.com/special/unknown-human-genome

https://wondergressive.com/news/first-time-photo-captures-double-helix-structure-of-dna/

http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2013/20130703-bifunctional-gene.html

https://wondergressive.com/news/women-who-give-birth-to-men-have-male-dna-in-brain-for-life/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA

http://sequoyahbiology.webs.com/whatisdnaandrna.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/science/space/a-far-flung-possibility-for-the-origin-of-life.html?_r=1&

https://wondergressive.com/news/deep-storage-project/

https://wondergressive.com/news/titans-atmosphere-can-make-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/news/dna-origami-the-art-of-folding-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/news/epigenetics-the-key-to-overcoming-genetic-predisposition

https://wondergressive.com/news/epigenetics-and-altering-your-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/news/dna-ancestry-23andme/

The Great Vitamin D-Ficiency!

Dear Chicagoan,

Stop Getting Sick!

Yours Truly,

Your Immune System.

 

This of course does not solely pertain to Chicagoans; any of you city slickers with those dark and snowy winters, those gloomy and menacing falls, and those extended rainy stormy weeks, are likely ignoring your immune system’s desperate cry for help. What am I doing wrong you may ask? What can I do when there is no sun to power me!? Even Superman was weak without the sun!

Start taking your vitamin D supplements people! Especially in the winter. Vitamin D deficiency is very commonly caused by a lack of sunlight during that dreaded FLU SEASON. A study by R. Edgar Hope-Simpson, a British family practice doctor, found that:

During the summer months in both hemispheres, influenza is virtually nonexistent. Aside from the flu, the common cold, which is actually a variety of more than 200 different viruses, also has a peak during the winter months.

Pish posh! I am 10 times the man I am during the winter period than the hot summertime! Look how efficiently I plow the snow and create icy sculptures with ease! I don’t need any supplements… John J. Cannell, MD, who heads the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, says otherwise:

Ninety-five percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D — that’s how big the problem is

Ahh but there are always critics in the world of modern medicine. Why would anything natural and recurring in nature ever be good for you? All we need is antibiotics and drugs and we can solve the world’s problems! An article titled Trying to Avoid a Cold? Skip the Vitamin D Supplements, goes in detail describing how a study in New Zealand, not America, produced results that leave the reader questioning the validity of vitamin D benefits. Yet it notes that those deficient in vitamin D would still likely benefit from supplements. Look up to statistic… a flurry of brain synapses going off will ensue. For a time there was vitamin D hype, which brought on vitamin D hate, and now it is not even mentioned anymore. We can ride the news roller coaster and listen to the media until we are all completely confused about everything, even ourselves.

So how much should I take? Will I get poisoned from too much vitamin D?

The Vitamin D Council recommends that children take 1,000 IU and adults take 5,000 IU when not exposed to sunlight regularly. In order to reach a state of toxicity with vitamin D, one would have to consume over 40,000 IU in supplements for over two months! I have heard as little as 600 IU should be taken and if taken in excess of 1,000 IU then you risk toxicity. Boy do they steer us wrong about supplements, or as some call it, voodoo magic.

A little late, why didn’t you tell me this earlier!? Well better late then never.. SO! If it’s the summer time or spring time and you are actively soaking in your rays, safely of course without overexposure to damaging UV rays, then don’t sweat the vitamin D supplements as much! But if you do not eat vitamin D rich foods and you are prone to sickness and easily contract a flu during that dreaded FLU SEASON, do your immune system a solid and pop a supplement every now and then. Your body will repay you with longevity, energy, and a solid ‘D’ against that flu enemy!

Before you go off to do what you were going to do, which is of course to read that AWESOME Wondergressive article on how Cannabis Cures Cancer, here is a list of ailments that Jack Challem, the author of more than 20 books on nutrition and a member of the American Society for Nutrition, put together for those deficient in vitamin D:

• Allergies. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a greater risk of allergies, such as to pollens.

• Back pain. Many studies have shown that in patients with chronic lower-back pain, vitamin D supplements led to either a partial or complete elimination of pain.

• Fibromyalgia. Low vitamin D levels are typical in this disease, and boosting vitamin D reduces symptoms.

• Heart disease. Low vitamin D levels are associated with up to a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack.

• Mental health. Low wintertime vitamin D levels may be a factor in seasonal affective disorder (that is, seasonal depression), as well as in schizophrenia.

• Multiple sclerosis. The risk of multiple sclerosis increases progressively in populations living at latitudes farther from the equator. A growing body of research suggests that adequate vitamin D might slow its progression, at least in the early stages of MS.

• Skin cancer. Some research suggests that for certain populations, vitamin D, in combination with sun exposure or calcium supplementation, might offer some protection against skin cancer.

• Type 2 diabetes. Considerable research indicates that vitamin D, often in combination with calcium, helps regulate blood sugar and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

• Vaginal infections. Bacterial vaginosis affects nearly one of every three women. Maintaining normal vitamin D levels might reduce the risk of this type of infection.

Sources:

Jack Challem

Web MD Vitamin D Foods

Web MD Vitamin D Deficiency

CNN Health: Flu Season

Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D

John J. Cannell, MD

Vitamin D Council

Wondergressive: Cannibus Cures Cancer

Anti Vitamin D

The Folly of High Speed Rail in America

 

This transit layout, put together by California Rail Map and Alfred Twu, envisions a future America thoroughly connected via high speed rail. After repeatedly popping up on my Facebook feed like a freakish case of shingles, I decided that I couldn’t allow this quixotic dream and the fevered intentions behind it go unchallenged. The love affair for high speed rail in the US is nothing more than noxious propaganda, seeping fumes that mute rationality in favor of misplaced adoration for antiquated, 19th century technology.

Don’t get me wrong: I love trains. I’ve been living in South Korea for over three years and am fully enamored with its spectacular rail service. I also lived in Germany and was equally impressed with the efficiency of their inter-city mass transit system. The problem with Alfred Twu’s map is simple and profound: America was not designed to be like Europe or Korea. What works for them simply cannot function Stateside, no matter how much people wish it would.

There is one area in America where high speed rail  makes sense: The megalopolis between Boston and Washington D.C., a relatively small stretch of land that supports almost one-sixth of the US population. With the possible exception of a route between San Diego and San Francisco, that is the only place where extensive passenger lines are sensible. It is a hyper population-dense region with a string of cities that enjoy adequate access to public transportation. Every other route on Twu’s map is expensive folly. I should actually say more expensive folly, because in 2011 Amtrak somehow managed to lose about $1.2 billion, despite having better than expected ridership.

The rail system in Korea works so well because of its unique geography and population density. South Korea is home to about 50 million people, all living in an area roughly the size of a mountainous Indiana. Because of its condensed urban nature and high public demand, every city has an orderly and efficient public transit system. This makes it possible to travel to every city, and also within every city without the need for a car. Another simplifying factor is that a trip between Korea’s two largest cities, Seoul and Busan, which are on totally opposite sides of the country, can be made in about two and a half hours.

Most cities in Germany and other European countries are also similarly compressed and friendly to high speed rail. Their narrow, bicycle-spoked street layouts are based on their medieval roots, when expanding city streets were cobbled together for immediate convenience and with an understanding that space was at a premium. This makes the modern cities more conducive to light rail systems than the spacious grids of most American cities. This in turn helps ensure that once a tourist or visitor arrives to a city by train, they can fairly easily travel to wherever they want to go by public transport.

Other than the notable exceptions I mentioned earlier, America simply doesn’t have the population density required to sustain high speed rail. One of the glaringly obvious and defining characteristics of the US is its size, and this geographical reality has helped to fundamentally shape American culture and the design of our cities. Once Americans migrated west of the Appalachian Mountains, they built cities that reflected the new-found abundance of land. They eschewed the congested, radial street plans of Boston and Washington DC in favor of the sprawling grids of cities like St. Louis, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The farther west people traveled  and as railroad and eventually automobile technology advanced, this effect was magnified. For a simplistic example, the Greater Los Angeles Area covers just under 34,000 square miles, compared to just 5,617 sq miles for the Paris aire urbaine.

One area of the country that could theoretically support high speed rail is—at second glance—utterly incapable of doing so: The Midwest triangle between Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Chicago is a large metropolis with a good transit system, and the cities are all economically and culturally intertwined, with a high volume of traffic between the three. However, St. Louis and Indy are decidedly built around the automobile. St. Louis does have two light rail lines, but they largely overlap and aren’t very popular. From personal experience, Indianapolis might as well not have any public transport. It has no light rail and its bus system is notoriously byzantine and tortuously slow. It would be virtually impossible for a businessman to pop into these cities by train and promptly get to where he needed to go. It simply isn’t feasible without a car. And these are major cities; can you imagine how these problems will compound in small towns like Quincy, IL (pop. 40,633) or Cheyenne, WY (pop. 59,466), which are also covered in Twu’s fantasy map?

With the size of the US, any proposed high speed rail lines are going to be prohibitively expensive, especially considering that the country is $16 trillion in the hole. The California High Speed Rail project from San Diego to Sacramento was approved by voters in 2008 and financing for the first leg was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, 2012. The project has already become a massive boondoggle, with the expected cost having greatly expanded from an estimated $45 billion to between $68 and $98 billion. The completion date has also been delayed 13 years to 2033. Incredibly, this is in a region that—on paper—looks like a perfect place to implement high speed rail. How farcically will the process further degrade on a proposed route between Tulsa, OK and Corpus Christi, TX?

Without a car, there is simply no reasonable way to navigate the vast majority of American cities. The infrastructure to travel on mass transit simply isn’t there. And in most respects it shouldn’t be: There just isn’t a big enough demand to justify it. The US system depends on cars and airplanes. The routes can be largely customized by the user and they provide a level of freedom wanting from high speed rail that is expected by the American traveler. They are also cheaper and more efficient in our country of suburbs and interstate travel.

There is no rational reason to support a mass increase in high speed rail projects in the US. America is not structured like South Korea or European countries that make rail a viable and dependable mode of transportation for the majority of inhabitants. They have a system that works, and so do we. We don’t need to abandon organically-driven functionality in a vain and expensive effort to be “more European.” Cars, from the ’67 Ford Mustang to Marty McFly’s DeLorean, are a part of America’s DNA; they symbolize and help grant the liberty that the nation was founded on. It would be a shame to throw that all away on a futile wish that “If we build it, they will ride.”

 

Sources:

Business Insider: Here’s What an American High Speed Rail Network Could Look Like

AMTRAK National Facts

Visit Korea

NationsOnline.org

Princeton.edu- Greate Los Angeles Area

Metro St Louis.org

St. Louis Park Patch

US Census Bureau

US Debt Clock.org

California High Speed Rail Authority

LA Times: Bullet Train’s $98-billion Cost Could Be Its Biggest Obstacle

Huffington Post: California High Speed Rail Still Faces a Lot of Obstacles

The Economist- An age of transformation