CRISPR-Cas9 Knowing Neurons

CRISPR-Cas9: Targeted Genome Editing

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Infographic by Jooyeun Lee and Kate Fehlhaber.

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References:

Hsu P. & Feng Zhang (2014). Development and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 for Genome Engineering, Cell, 157 (6) 1262-1278. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.010

Fineran P.C. (2014). Gene regulation by engineered CRISPR-Cas systems, Current Opinion in Microbiology, 18 83-89. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2014.02.007

Doudna J.A. (2014). The new frontier of genome engineering with CRISPR-Cas9, Science, 346 (6213) 1258096-1258096. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1258096

Zinc finger nucleases: genomic scissors via Knowing Neurons

Zinc Finger Nucleases: Genomic Scissors

The potential to manipulate DNA sequences and insert genes with the use of zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) has huge implications for human genetic disease therapeutics.  One exciting example is a clinical trial that is using ZFN technology to disrupt the gene for the HIV co-receptor CCR5 and protect against the progression of HIV to AIDS.  As shown in the infographic below, ZFNs introduce DNA sequence changes into individual genes to create deletions, insertions, or base substitutions.  ZFN technology is a powerful tool that enables scientists to study the effects of these changes on gene function and may one day be used to treat human genetic disorders.Continue reading

Genetic Tricks To Reverse Schizophrenic Symptoms

The human brain continues to develop and form new connections from birth until as late as the mid-20s. During this time, billions of connections are made and broken as the brain develops the architecture required for learning, memory, language, emotion and many other brain functions. Disruptions in how the brain forms connections during infancy and early childhood can severely impair growth and negatively affect brain functions. Continue reading

New Ion Channel Identified for the Neurotransmission of Sweet, Bitter, and Umami Tastes

Take a moment to think about how amazing it is that we can taste so many flavors in the meals we eat!  Approximately ten thousand taste buds located on the surface of your tongue detect the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.  Each taste bud contains three different types of elongated taste cells (Type I, Type II, and Type III).  Each of these sensory neurons has a different mechanism for transducing a specific taste signal to the brain.  Type I glial-like cells detect the salty taste, while Type III presynaptic cells sense the sour taste.  Type II receptor cells recognize sweet, bitter, and umami tastes by expressing different types of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs).Continue reading

Disruption of Circadian Cycles Linked to Weight Gain

Every night during finals week, I studied into the wee hours of the morning and caught only a few hours of sleep. It was exhausting! After finals were over, I felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders, but I also felt a few pounds heavier! Sure, late night studying was paired with late dinners and snacks, but the weight came so quickly and was incredibly difficult to lose. What happened? I blamed my overly self-conscious analysis and the high calorie foods. Now, researchers at Vanderbilt suggest another cause: disruption of the sleep-awake cycle!Continue reading

Love is in the air! Or is that oxytocin?

Have you noticed the chocolates wrapped in bright red paper, teddy bears holding pink hearts in all the stores, and the endless supply of diamond commercials on television? Indeed, this Thursday is Valentine’s Day, which means couples will dote on each other with complete infatuation all day. But what happens after that lovely night out, when the alcohol is gone and the sugar high wears off? Will she notice the hot guys at the beach, and will his eyes wander to the attractive women walking across the street?Continue reading

LTP: When Neurons Make a Long-term Commitment

A few months ago, I got a new smart phone that had a bigger screen and a different operating system. For a while, I was annoyed that I made so many typos when texting and emailing, but now I’m completely competent with my new phone! It even feels strange to use the old one. In neuroscience, an experience like this is called synaptic plasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to change as a result of experience.Continue reading

When Cellular Power Plants Fail

Humans normally have 23 pairs of chromosomes, but sometimes an error during cell division causes there to be an abnormal number of chromosomes. One of the most common chromosome abnormalities in humans is Down syndrome (DS). In most cases, this occurs when there is an extra copy of chromosome 21, which is called Trisomy 21. It is typically associated with distinct facial features, impaired cognitive functions, and stunted physical growth.  Surprisingly, almost all people with DS also exhibit clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) 10-20 years before it usually occurs in the general population. So, what is the link between DS and AD?Continue reading