Sunday, February 9, 2014

Computer models help decode cells that sense light without seeing

Researchers have found that the melanopsin pigment in the eye is potentially more sensitive to light than its more famous counterpart, rhodopsin, the pigment that allows for night vision.
For more than two years, the staff of the Laboratory for Computational Photochemistry and Photobiology (LCPP) at Ohio's Bowling Green State University (BGSU),
have been investigating melanopsin, a retina pigment capable of sensing light changes in the environment, informing the nervous system and synchronizing it with the day/night rhythm. Most of the study's complex computations were carried out on powerful supercomputer clusters at the

New application of physics tools used in biology

Alawrence suffragist National Laboratory scientist and his colleagues have found a replacement application for the tools and arithmetic usually utilized in physics to assist solve issues in biology.

Specifically, the team used physics associate degreed mathematical modeling to shed light-weight on one thing referred to as epigenetic memory -- however an organism will produce a biological memory of some variable condition, like quality of nutrition or temperature.

"The work highlights the knowledge domain nature of contemporary biology, particularly,
how the tools and models from arithmetic and physics will facilitate clarify issues in biology," aforesaid Ken Kim, a LLNL scientist and one in every of the authors of a paper showing within the February. seven issue of Physical Review Letters.
Not all characteristics of living organisms will be explained by their genes alone. Epigenetic processes react with nice sensitivity to genes' immediate organic chemistry surroundings -- and any, they pass those reactions on to future generation.
The team's work on the dynamics of simple {protein} protein modification is central to epigenetics. Like genetic changes, epigenetic changes area unit preserved once a cell divides. simple protein proteins were once thought to be static, structural elements in chromosomes, however recent studies have shown that histones play a vital changing role within the machinery accountable for epigenetic regulation.
When histones endure chemical alterations (histone modification) as a results of some external stimulant, they trigger short biological memory of that stimulant inside a cell, which might be passed all the way down to its girl cells. This memory can also be reversed once a number of organic process cycles.
Epigenetic modifications area unit essential within the development and performance of cells, however conjointly play a key role in cancer, per Jianhua Xing, a former LLNL postdoc and current academic at Virginia technical school. "For example, changes within the epigenome will cause the activation or deactivation of signal pathways that may cause growth formation," Xing other.

The molecular mechanism underlying epigenetic memory involves complicated interactions between histones, DNA and enzymes, that manufacture modification patterns that area unit recognized by the cell. to realize insight into such complicated systems, the team made a mathematical model that captures the essential options of the histone-induced epigenetic memory. The model highlights the "engineering" challenge a cell should perpetually face throughout molecular recognition. it's analogous to restoring an image with missing elements. The molecular properties of a species are evolutionarily chosen to permit them to "reason" what the missing elements area unit supported incomplete data