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Scientists develop novel methodology to study temperature controlled gene function

Genetic research is at a colossal high today, and although we know a lot about our genes, the roles of more than 30% of the functional genes in the human body are not really understood. This number can be even lower for other members of the biotic world. Studies to determine gene function involve combinations of various experimental methods at biochemical, cellular, and organismal levels. One such method, that is popularly employed, uses temperature-sensitive mutant genes that behave differently at different temperatures. The process of identifying and generating mutated genes, however, is laborious, time-consuming and relies heavily on chance. It is at this juncture that Prof. Raghavan Varadarajan and his team from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, suggest an innovative, yet fairly straightforward, technique to study gene functionality, which would make one wonder how no one thought of this earlier!

Synthetic arabinomannans – A novel weapon against the century old mycobacterial threat

Considered as mankind’s greatest killer, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, has indeed become one group of bacteria which has challenged microbiologists and medical researchers for decades. Since the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882, many scientists and researchers have employed different strategies to handle and treat mycobacterial infections. Longtreatment regime, the emergence of multiple drug resistance and chronic infections are the serious challenges associated with tuberculosis control. Now scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore have tried out an interdisciplinary approach for fighting these killer bacteria.

Putting Bacteria to Work: Scientists Design Micro Heat Engine Using Bacterial Reservoirs

Can the omnipresent bacteria work for us, run our cars, refrigerate our food or fuel our aeroplanes? Yes, say scientists from the Indian Institute of Science and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. In a ground-breaking interdisciplinary experiment, the team have built a micro heat engine that works using bacterial reservoirs. This study was the result of a collaborative effort between Prof. Ajay Sood and his graduate student Sudheesh Krishnamoorthy from the Department of Physics, IISc, Dr. Rajesh Ganapathy from JNCASR and Prof. Dipankar Chatterji and his student Subho Ghosh from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, IISc.

Synthetic arabinomannans – A novel weapon against the century old mycobacterial threat

Considered as mankind’s greatest killer, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, has indeed become one group of bacteria which has challenged microbiologists and medical researchers for decades. Since the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 1882, many scientists and researchers have employed different strategies to handle and treat mycobacterial infections. Longtreatment regime, the emergence of multiple drug resistance and chronic infections are the serious challenges associated with tuberculosis control. Now scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore have tried out an interdisciplinary approach for fighting these killer bacteria.

Protein motions can provide clues of their functional roles, say IISc scientists

It is said that our body houses over 25000 different proteins. If we consider the body as a huge factory of sorts, then proteins are like the workers in it; they deal with security, communication, transportation, structural stability, maintenance, and every other role that one can envision. But unlike actual human workers, proteins are molecules, made up of units called amino acids-imagine a long chain of beads (amino acids) of different sizes and shapes strung together; protein sequences are just permutations and combinations of 20 different amino acids.

Can lactate be used for treating stroke?

Stroke is caused when there is restricted flow of blood to some parts of the brain, which starves the brain cells of oxygen and glucose. This leads to death of brain cells, also called neurons, which cannot be fully replaced after they are lost. The oxygen and glucose-starved cells accumulate ‘lactate’ in the spaces between neurons. Lactate is a metabolic substance found in human body, it is a component of the substance, lactic acid that gives a sour taste to curd.

3D Information from just the Protein Sequence

Proteins are all around us in the biological world, like the hidden cogs that turn the hands of a watch; it is primarily proteins that form the structural and functional components of life as we know it. Just like beads on a string, proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids that are joined together in a specific sequence. This specific sequence is unique to a protein, and gives rise to both the shape of the protein and its associated function. While technology has allowed us to easily identify a protein’s sequence i.e. the sequence of amino acids it contains, what biologists are often concerned with is the three dimensional structure of a protein.

Expediting drug development using molecular structure

Crystallography, the study of atomic and molecular structure, has gained widespread recognition lately. Derived from the Greek words “crystallon”, meaning cold or frozen drop, and “graphein”, meaning the experimental science of finding out the arrangement of atoms in solids, it is a technique used to determine the structures of large bio-molecules such as proteins. The valuable contributions of these methods to our understanding of many areas of science even led to 2014 being declared as the International year of Crystallography by the United Nations.

Determination of virus and enzyme structures pave way for drug development

Prof. M. R. N. Murthy from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, IISc has achieved what no other lab in India has been able to so far: by determining the complete structures of not one, but two plant viruses. Less than a dozen labs worldwide have been able to determine the structure of viruses. Determination of the structure of viruses has numerous prospects in the field of vaccine development, drug delivery and imaging. Prof. Murthy was recently awarded the Sir M. Visvesvaraya State Award for Senior Scientists by Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology.

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