Mike Snyder: “It’s naïve to just look at one thing, we have to look at many levels”

Michael Snyder is the director of the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics, as well as Professor at Yale University. He studies protein function and regulatory networks using global approaches and high-throughput technologies, such as genomics and proteomics. During his visit to the PRBB he told us about the latest insights into human variation. What are the pros and cons of high-throughput technologies? There’s no question they are helping us advance in our knowledge. With genomics or proteomics experiments we discover things we would not have discovered by studying individual genes, and we have learned some basic principles out of … Continue reading Mike Snyder: “It’s naïve to just look at one thing, we have to look at many levels”

Effects of cannabis on the hippocampus

Effects of cannabis at the hippocampus In this image provided by Emma Puighermanal (Neuropharmacology lab, UPF) and obtained by Xavier Sanjuan, from the microscopy service of the UPF, shows a cut of the hippocampus of a mouse. It has been labelled against the kinase p-p70S6K (red), the dendritic marker MAP2 (blue) and the cannabinoide receptor CB1 (green). After administering Δ9-tetrahidrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of marijuana, the signalling pathway for mTOR/ p70S6K is activated in the hippocampus. This pathway is responsible for the amnesic effects of cannabis. Continue reading Effects of cannabis on the hippocampus

Regenerating broken hearts

Chris Jopling joined the CMRB as a postdoctoral research scientist in June 2007. Since then, he has been investigating heart regeneration in zebrafish. The technicians M. Carme Fabregat and Guillermo Suñé, as well as Veronika Sander, another postdoctoral researcher, collaborate with the English biochemist in this line of research. They are all trying to find out which genes are involved in heart regeneration in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. “You can cut off up to 20% of a ventricle of an adult fish, and in one month it is completely regenerated”, explains Jopling. Mammals are able to regenerate some tissues, such … Continue reading Regenerating broken hearts

The PRBB consolidates its internationalization

Take a look at the new issue of Ellipse, the monthly bilingual publication of the PRBB. We have now reached 50 editions!!!! Check out how the demography of the PRBB has changed over the last 5 years, to reach 50 different nationalities amongst our 1,345 residents. Actually, currently 41% of the researchers at the park are non-Spanish! How does the biological clock controls skin stem cell activation? And did you know the ‘out-of-Africa’ route was through Arabia, and not Egypt? CRG researchers show how it is possible to predict the phenotype from individual genomes; an international group of scientists ask … Continue reading The PRBB consolidates its internationalization

Positive selection on the insulin signal transduction pathway across human populations

The insulin/TOR signal transduction pathway is involved in metabolic disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. The prevalence of such disorders is dramatically different among human populations. Therefore, applying population genetics analysis to describe how natural selection acted in different populations on the genes involved in this pathway may provide key insight into the etiology of these diseases. A recent paper published in Molecular Biology and Evolution does just that. The authors, from Jaume Bertranpetit’s lab at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF), have combined genotype data from nearly 1,000 individuals from 39 human populations from around the world … Continue reading Positive selection on the insulin signal transduction pathway across human populations

Amyloids: the good, the bad and the ugly

Amyloids – insoluble fibrous protein aggregates that share specific structural traits – are well known for their involvement in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, prions diseases and even diabetes 2 and some cancers. As evil as they seem, however, they also have a kinder side. Stavros Hamodrakas, head of the Biophysics and Bioinformatics laboratory at the Faculty of Biology, University of Athens (Greece), talked today at the PRBB about functional, non-pathogenic amyloids. He actually was the first person to propose that the silk moth eggshell (or chorion) was a natural, protective amyloid. The chorion is a multi-layered structure that protects the egg from … Continue reading Amyloids: the good, the bad and the ugly

Regulation of mucosal IgA responses (review)

Andrea Cerutti (corresponding author) from IMIM-Hospital del Mar has just published a review on the regulation of mucosal IgA responses in the journal Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. The intestinal mucosa has evolved several strategies to control microbic commensals and neutralize pathogens without causing inflammatory damage to the epithelial barrier. One of these strategies involves the production of massive amounts of IgA, the most abundant antibody isotype in our body. The review puts together scientific evidence on  the mechanisms by which mucosal B cells undergo IgA diversification and production and discusses how the study of primary immunodeficiencies facilitates better understanding of … Continue reading Regulation of mucosal IgA responses (review)

CPEB4 activates hundreds of genes associated with tumor growth

It has been highlighted news in the main Spanish TV and newspaper media. A study led by two researchers from Barcelona, Pilar Navarro from IMIM and Raul Mendez from IRB, shows that pancreas tumors are 80% smaller in the absence of the cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein CPEB4. The results published in Nature Medicine, describe the protein CPEB4 as a “cellular orchestra conductor” that “activates” hundreds of genes associated with tumor growth. So far, no direct link between cancers and CPEBs had been found. Nevertheless, CPEB4 is overexpressed in the studied pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) and glioblastoma, as well as 15 … Continue reading CPEB4 activates hundreds of genes associated with tumor growth

Where you live may determine your work-related health

In the context of the current global economic crisis, it escapes nobody how important it is to have a job and the effect of a country’s welfare system on those who don’t have one. But perhaps one doesn’t always think on the effect this can have, specifically, on one’s health. A recent review published in Health Policy shows how country-level welfare regimes may be an important determinant of employment-related health. The authors analysed 104 original articles published between 1988 and 2010 on job insecurity and precarious employment. They classified each study according to a six-regime welfare state typology: Scandinavian, Bismarckian … Continue reading Where you live may determine your work-related health

Protein coding genes exhibit low splicing variability within populations

Despite all having the same DNA content, each cell is different. The phenotypic differences observed between cells depend on the differences in the RNA transcript content of the cell. And this variability of transcript abundance is the result of gene expression variability, which has been studied for many years and is usually measured using DNA arrays, but also of alternative splicing variability. Indeed, changes in splicing ratios, even without changes in overall gene expression, can have important phenotypic effects. However, little is known about the variability of alternative splicing amongst individuals and populations. Taking advantage of the popular use of … Continue reading Protein coding genes exhibit low splicing variability within populations