what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Metabolism existed before origin of life 

The mystery behind how the first organisms on earth could have become metabolically active has been unlocked.Researchers from University of Cambridge have reconstructed ancient ocean to speculate how primitive cells learned to synthesise their organic components - the molecules that form RNA, lipids and amino acids, reports agencies from London.

Almost four billion years ago, life on earth began in iron-rich oceans that dominated the surface of the planet. "The conditions and molecules found in the earth's ancient oceans assisted and accelerated the interconversion of metabolites that in modern organisms make up glycolysis and the pentose-phosphate pathways — two of the essential and most centrally placed reaction cascades of metabolism," explained Markus Ralser from department of biochemistry at University of Cambridge. 

A reconstruction of earth's earliest ocean in the lab revealed the spontaneous occurrence of the chemical reactions used by modern cells to synthesise many of the crucial organic molecules of metabolism. Previously, it was assumed that these reactions were carried out in modern cells by metabolic enzymes.  Why breast cancer often spreads to lungs revealed

Researchers have why breast cancer often spreads or metastasizes to the lung.In this paper, the researchers developed an innovative ex vivo (outside the living organism) model system that simulates different organ environments.

 They observed that breast CSCs have a particular propensity for migrating towards and growing in the lung, and they identified specific interactions between breast CSCs and lung-derived proteins that could be disrupted to reduce the metastatic behavior of breast cancer.

 Alison Allan, PhD, a scientist at Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute said that in metastasis, there’s a theory called the seed and soil hypothesis. “Analogous to a dandelion, when it goes to seed, the seeds blow all over the place. But they don’t necessarily grow everywhere they land; they grow only in congenial soil that has the right nutrients that support growth of seeds in a foreign environment. In the situation of metastasis, the tumor cells (‘seeds’) have some inherent factors that determine their aggressiveness and ability to metastasize, while the different organs (‘soil’) are believed to provide important factors that attract tumor cells to particular organs and help support their survival and growth into metastatic tumors,” explains Allan, an associate professor in the Departments of Oncology, and Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

 “A lot of research has been done on the cancer cells because they’re easy to study, but not a lot has gone into understanding the ‘soil factor.’ We’ve uncovered some specific proteins that are produced in the lung that seem to interact with cancer stem cells, making the lungs a congenial place for cancer cells to grow.” 
Not keeping fit? Blame it on your genetic cells 

In what could cheer the couch potatoes a bit, researchers have now found that genetic cells in our bodies keep changing and they could influence our health in numerous ways, agencies report from Toronto.

Genomes are changing, not just from generation to generation, but even within our individual cells.

The researchers found an association between the level of modification of RNA and our basal metabolic rate — the rate at which we are able to convert food into energy to power our bodies.

If DNA is the printing press that determines the functions of a living organism, RNA is the print that it leaves behind.

Modifications to the RNA of the mitochondria might be influencing your fitness, discovered the researchers.

“Mitochondria are the power stations of our cells, and the more power a cell needs, such as a muscle cell, the more mitochondria it has,” said Alan Hodgkinson from the University of Montreal, Canada.

“The many mitochondria in the same cell can have different genetic mutations. Our research helps us to understand how variable mitochondrial RNA processing can be and what the possible consequences of that might be on health,” Hodgkinson said.

 The findings add extra layers of complexity to our understanding of how genetics influence our health.The study appeared in the journal, Science.

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