The "epigenome" is a parallel to the word "genome", and refers to the overall epigenetic state of a cell. The phrase "genetic code" has also been adapted—the "epigenetic code" has been used to describe the set of epigenetic features that create different phenotypes in different cells. Taken to its extreme, the "epigenetic code" could represent the total state of the cell, with the position of each molecule accounted for in an epigenomic map, a diagrammatic representation of the gene expression, DNA methylation and histone modification status of a particular genomic region. More typically, the term is used in reference to systematic efforts to measure specific, relevant forms of epigenetic information such as the histone code or DNA methylation patterns.



Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence, hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above) -genetics. Examples of such changes might be DNA methylation or histone acetylation, both of which serve to suppress gene expression without altering the sequence of the silenced genes.
These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell's life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.

The molecular basis of epigenetics is complex. It involves modifications of the activation of certain genes, but not the basic structure of DNA. Additionally, the chromatin proteins associated with DNA may be activated or silenced. This accounts for why the differentiated cells in a multi-cellular organism express only the genes that are necessary for their own activity. Epigenetic changes are preserved when cells divide. Most epigenetic changes only occur within the course of one individual organism's lifetime, but, if a mutation in the DNA has been caused in sperm or egg cell that results in fertilization, then some epigenetic changes are inherited from one generation to the next.[9] This raises the question of whether or not epigenetic changes in an organism can alter the basic structure of its DNA (see Evolution, below), a form of Lamarckism.

Specific epigenetic processes include paramutation, bookmarking, imprinting, gene silencing, X chromosome inactivation, position effect, reprogramming, transvection, maternal effects, the progress of carcinogenesis, many effects of teratogens, regulation of histone modifications and heterochromatin, and technical limitations affecting parthenogenesis and cloning.

Epigenetic research uses a wide range of molecular biologic techniques to further our understanding of epigenetic phenomena, including chromatin immunoprecipitation (together with its large-scale variants ChIP-on-chip and ChIP-seq), fluorescent in situ hybridization, methylation-sensitive restriction enzymes, DNA adenine methyltransferase identification (DamID) and bisulfite sequencing. Furthermore, the use of bioinformatic methods is playing an increasing role (computational epigenetics).

Urea Cycle

The urea cycle (also known as the ornithine cycle) is a cycle of biochemical reactions occurring in many animals that produces urea ((NH2)2CO) from ammonia (NH3). This cycle was the first metabolic cycle discovered (Hans Krebs and Kurt Henseleit, 1932). In mammals, the urea cycle takes place primarily in the liver, and to a lesser extent in the kidney.

Organisms that cannot easily and quickly remove ammonia usually have to convert it to some other substance, like urea or uric acid, which are much less toxic. Insufficiency of the urea cycle occurs in some genetic disorders (inborn errors of metabolism), and in liver failure. The result of liver failure is accumulation of nitrogenous waste, mainly ammonia, which leads to hepatic encephalopathy.

Hershey Chase Experiment

The Hershey–Chase experiments were a series of experiments conducted in 1952[1] by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase, which helped to confirm that DNA was the genetic material. While DNA had been known to biologists since 1869[2], a few scientists still assumed at the time that proteins carried the information for inheritance. In their experiments, Hershey and Chase showed that when bacteriophages, which are composed of DNA and protein, infect bacteria, their DNA enters the host bacterial cell, but most of their protein does not. Although the results were not conclusive, and Hershey and Chase were cautious in their interpretation, previous, contemporaneous and subsequent discoveries all served to prove that DNA is the hereditary material. Knowledge of DNA gained from these discoveries has applications in forensics, crime investigation and genealogy.

Hershey shared the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria for their “discoveries concerning the genetic structure of viruses.”

Griffith's experiment

Griffith's experiment, conducted in 1928 by Frederick Griffith, was one of the first experiments suggesting that bacteria are capable of transferring genetic information through a process known as transformation

Griffith used two strains of pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) bacteria which infect mice – a type III-S (smooth) and type II-R (rough) strain. The III-S strain covers itself with a polysaccharide capsule that protects it from the host's immune system, resulting in the death of the host, while the II-R strain doesn't have that protective capsule and is defeated by the host's immune system. A German bacteriologist, Fred Neufeld, had discovered the three pneumococcal types (Types I, II, and III) and discovered the Quellung reaction to identify them in vitro.[3] Until Griffith's experiment, bacteriologists believed that the types were fixed and unchangeable, from one generation to another.

In this experiment, bacteria from the III-S strain were killed by heat, and their remains were added to II-R strain bacteria. While neither alone harmed the mice, the combination was able to kill its host. Griffith was also able to isolate both live II-R and live III-S strains of pneumococcus from the blood of these dead mice. Griffith concluded that the type II-R had been "transformed" into the lethal III-S strain by a "transforming principle" that was somehow part of the dead III-S strain bacteria.

Today, we know that the "transforming principle" Griffith observed was the DNA of the III-S strain bacteria. While the bacteria had been killed, the DNA had survived the heating process and was taken up by the II-R strain bacteria. The III-S strain DNA contains the genes that form the protective polysaccharide capsule. Equipped with this gene, the former II-R strain bacteria were now protected from the host's immune system and could kill the host. The exact nature of the transforming principle (DNA) was verified in the experiments done by Avery, McLeod and McCarty and by Hershey and Chase

Lac Operon Animation

The lac operon is an operon required for the transport and metabolism of lactose in Escherichia coli and some other enteric bacteria. It consists of three adjacent structural genes, a promoter, a terminator, and an operator. The lac operon is regulated by several factors including the availability of glucose and of lactose. Gene regulation of the lac operon was the first genetic regulatory mechanism to be elucidated and is often used as the canonical example of prokaryotic gene regulation.

The lac operon consists of three structural genes, a promoter, a terminator,(author forgot regulator, please edit this) and an operator. The three structural genes are:: lacZ, lacY, and lacA.

* lacZ encodes β-galactosidase (LacZ), an intracellular enzyme that cleaves the disaccharide lactose into glucose and galactose.
* lacY encodes β-galactoside permease (LacY), a membrane bound transport protein that pumps lactose into the cell.
* lacA encodes β-galactoside transacetylase (LacA), an enzyme that transfers an acetyl group from acetyl-CoA to β-galactosides.

Only lacZ and lacY appear to be necessary for lactose catabolism.

Specific control of the lac genes depends on the availability of the substrate lactose to the bacterium. The proteins are not produced by the bacterium when lactose is unavailable as a carbon source. The lac genes are organized into an operon; that is, they are oriented in the same direction immediately adjacent on the chromosome and are co-transcribed into a single polycistronic mRNA molecule. Transcription of all genes starts with the binding of the enzyme RNA polymerase (RNAP), a DNA-binding protein, to a specific DNA binding site immediately upstream of the genes, the promoter. From this position RNAP proceeds to transcribe all three genes (lacZYA) into mRNA. The DNA sequence of the E. coli lac operon, the lacZYA mRNA, and the lacI genes are available from GenBank (view).

The regulatory response to lactose requires an intracellular regulatory protein called the lactose repressor. The lacI gene encoding repressor lies nearby the lac operon and is always expressed (constitutive). If lactose is missing from the growth medium, the repressor binds very tightly to a short DNA sequence just downstream of the promoter near the beginning of lacZ called the lac operator. Repressor bound to the operator interferes with binding of RNAP to the promoter, and therefore mRNA encoding LacZ and LacY is only made at very low levels. When cells are grown in the presence of lactose, a lactose metabolite called allolactose binds to the repressor, causing a change in its shape. Thus altered, the repressor is unable to bind to the operator, allowing RNAP to transcribe the lac genes and thereby leading to high levels of the encoded proteins.

Genetic nomenclature

Three-letter mnemonics are used to describe phenotypes in bacteria including E. coli.

Examples include:

* Lac (the ability to use lactose),
* His (the ability to synthesize the amino acid histidine)
* Mot (swimming motility)
* Str (response to the antibiotic streptomycin)

In the case of Lac, wild type cells are Lac+ and are able to use lactose as a carbon and energy source, while Lac- mutant derivatives cannot use lactose. The same three letters are typically used (lower-case, italicized) to label the genes involved in a particular phenotype, where each different gene is additionally distinguished by an extra letter. The lac genes encoding enzymes are lacZ, lacY, and lacA. The fourth lac gene is lacI, encoding the lactose repressor---I stands for inducibility.

One may distinguish between structural genes encoding enzymes, and regulatory genes encoding proteins that affect gene expression. Current usage expands the phenotypic nomenclature to apply to proteins: thus, LacZ is the protein product of the lacZ gene, β-galactosidase. Various short sequences that are not genes also affect gene expression, including the lac promoter, lac p, and the lac operator, lac o. Although it is not strictly standard usage, mutations affecting lac o are referred to as lac oc, for historical reasons.

Use in molecular biology

The lac gene and its derivatives are amenable to use as a reporter gene in a number of bacterial-based selection techniques such as two hybrid analysis, in which the successful binding of a transcriptional activator to a specific promoter sequence must be determined. In LB plates containing X-gal, the colour change from white colonies to a shade of blue, corresponds to about 20-100 β-galactosidase units, while tetrazolium lactose and MacConkey lactose media have a range of 100-1000 units, being most sensitive in the high and low parts of this range respectively. Since MacConkey lactose and tetrazolium lactose media both rely on the products of lactose breakdown, they require the presence of both lacZ and lacY genes. The many lac fusion techniques which include only the lacZ gene are thus suited to the X-gal plates or ONPG liquid broths

Cell Signals Animation

Cell signaling is part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions. The ability of cells to perceive and correctly respond to their microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity as well as normal tissue homeostasis. Errors in cellular information processing are responsible for diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, and diabetes. By understanding cell signaling, diseases can be treated effectively and, theoretically, artificial tissues could be built.

Traditional work in biology has focused on studying individual parts of cell signaling pathways. Systems biology research helps us understand the underlying structure of cell signaling networks and how changes in these networks can affect the transmission of information.

Cell signaling has been most extensively studied in the context of human diseases and signaling between cells of a single organism. However, cell signaling can also occur between the cells of two different organisms. In many mammals, early embryo cells exchange signals with cells of the uterus. In the human gastrointestinal tract, bacteria exchange signals with each other and with human epithelial and immune system cells. For the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae during mating, some cells send a peptide signal (mating factor) into their environment. The mating factor peptide can bind to a cell surface receptor on other yeast cells and induce them to prepare for mating.

Some cell-to-cell communication requires direct cell-cell contact. Some cells can form gap junctions that connect their cytoplasm to the cytoplasm of adjacent cells. In cardiac muscle, gap junctions between adjacent cells allows for action potential propagation from the cardiac pacemaker region of the heart to spread and coordinately cause contraction of the heart.

The Notch signaling mechanism is an example of juxtacrine signalling in which two adjacent cells must make physical contact in order to communicate. This requirement for direct contact allows for very precise control of cell differentiation during embryonic development. In the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, two cells of the developing gonad each have an equal chance of terminally differentiating or becoming a uterine precursor cell that continues to divide. The choice of which cell continues to divide is controlled by competition of cell surface signals. One cell will happen to produce more of a cell surface protein that activates the Notch receptor on the adjacent cell. This activates a feedback system that reduces Notch expression in the cell that will differentiate and increases Notch on the surface of the cell that continues as a stem cell.

Many cell signals are carried by molecules that are released by one cell and move to make contact with another cell. Endocrine signals are called hormones. Hormones are produced by endocrine cells and they travel through the blood to reach all parts of the body. Specificity of signaling can be controlled if only some cells can respond to a particular hormone. Paracrine signals target only cells in the vicinity of the emitting cell. Neurotransmitters represent an example. Some signaling molecules can function as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. For example, epinephrine and norepinephrine can function as hormones when released from the adrenal gland and are transported to the heart by way of the blood stream. Norepinephrine can also be produced by neurons to function as a neurotransmitter within the brain. Estrogen can be released by the ovary and function as a hormone or act locally via paracrine or autocrine signaling.


DNA Repair

DNA repair refers to a collection of processes by which a cell identifies and corrects damage to the DNA molecules that encode its genome. In human cells, both normal metabolic activities and environmental factors such as UV light can cause DNA damage, resulting in as many as 1 million individual molecular lesions per cell per day.Many of these lesions cause structural damage to the DNA molecule and can alter or eliminate the cell's ability to transcribe the gene that the affected DNA encodes. Other lesions induce potentially harmful mutations in the cell's genome, which affect the survival of its daughter cells after it undergoes mitosis. Consequently, the DNA repair process is constantly active as it responds to damage in the DNA structure.

The rate of DNA repair is dependent on many factors, including the cell type, the age of the cell, and the extracellular environment. A cell that has accumulated a large amount of DNA damage, or one that no longer effectively repairs damage incurred to its DNA, can enter one of three possible states:

1. an irreversible state of dormancy, known as senescence
2. cell suicide, also known as apoptosis or programmed cell death
3. unregulated cell division, which can lead to the formation of a tumor that is cancerous

The DNA repair ability of a cell is vital to the integrity of its genome and thus to its normal functioning and that of the organism. Many genes that were initially shown to influence lifespan have turned out to be involved in DNA damage repair and protection. Failure to correct molecular lesions in cells that form gametes can introduce mutations into the genomes of the offspring and thus influence the rate of evolution.

DNA damage
DNA damage, due to environmental factors and normal metabolic processes inside the cell, occurs at a rate of 1,000 to 1,000,000 molecular lesions per cell per day. While this constitutes only 0.000165% of the human genome's approximately 6 billion bases (3 billion base pairs), unrepaired lesions in critical genes (such as tumor suppressor genes) can impede a cell's ability to carry out its function and appreciably increase the likelihood of tumor formation.

The vast majority of DNA damage affects the primary structure of the double helix; that is, the bases themselves are chemically modified. These modifications can in turn disrupt the molecules' regular helical structure by introducing non-native chemical bonds or bulky adducts that do not fit in the standard double helix. Unlike proteins and RNA, DNA usually lacks tertiary structure and therefore damage or disturbance does not occur at that level. DNA is, however, supercoiled and wound around "packaging" proteins called histones (in eukaryotes), and both superstructures are vulnerable to the effects of DNA damage.

DNA repair mechanisms

Cells cannot function if DNA damage corrupts the integrity and accessibility of essential information in the genome (but cells remain superficially functional when so-called "non-essential" genes are missing or damaged). Depending on the type of damage inflicted on the DNA's double helical structure, a variety of repair strategies restore lost information. If possible, cells use the unmodified complementary strand of the DNA or the sister chromatid as a template to losslessly recover the original information. Without access to a template, cells use an error-prone recovery mechanism known as translesion synthesis as a last resort.

Damage to DNA alters the spatial configuration of the helix and such alterations can be detected by the cell. Once damage is localized, specific DNA repair molecules bind at or near the site of damage, inducing other molecules to bind and form a complex that enables the actual repair to take place. The types of molecules involved and the mechanism of repair that is mobilized depend on the type of damage that has occurred and the phase of the cell cycle that the cell is in.

Direct reversal

Cells are known to eliminate three types of damage to their DNA by chemically reversing it. These mechanisms do not require a template, since the types of damage they counteract can only occur in one of the four bases. Such direct reversal mechanisms are specific to the type of damage incurred and do not involve breakage of the phosphodiester backbone. The formation of thymine dimers (a common type of cyclobutyl dimer) upon irradiation with UV light results in an abnormal covalent bond between adjacent thymidine bases. The photoreactivation process directly reverses this damage by the action of the enzyme photolyase, whose activation is obligately dependent on energy absorbed from blue/UV light (300–500nm wavelength) to promote catalysis. Another type of damage, methylation of guanine bases, is directly reversed by the protein methyl guanine methyl transferase (MGMT), the bacterial equivalent of which is called as ogt. This is an expensive process because each MGMT molecule can only be used once; that is, the reaction is stoichiometric rather than catalytic.A generalized response to methylating agents in bacteria is known as the adaptive response and confers a level of resistance to alkylating agents upon sustained exposure by upregulation of alkylation repair enzymes. The third type of DNA damage reversed by cells is certain methylation of the bases cytosine and adenine.

When only one of the two strands of a double helix has a defect, the other strand can be used as a template to guide the correction of the damaged strand. In order to repair damage to one of the two paired molecules of DNA, there exist a number of excision repair mechanisms that remove the damaged nucleotide and replace it with an undamaged nucleotide complementary to that found in the undamaged DNA strand.

  1. Base excision repair (BER), which repairs damage to a single nucleotide caused by oxidation, alkylation, hydrolysis, or deamination. The base is removed with glycosylase and ultimately replaced by repair synthesis with DNA ligase.
  2. Nucleotide excision repair (NER), which repairs damage affecting longer strands of 2–30 bases. This process recognizes bulky, helix-distorting changes such as thymine dimers as well as single-strand breaks (repaired with enzymes such UvrABC endonuclease). A specialized form of NER known as Transcription-Coupled Repair (TCR) deploys high-priority NER repair enzymes to genes that are being actively transcribed.
  3. Mismatch repair (MMR), which corrects errors of DNA replication and recombination that result in mispaired (but normal, that is non- damaged) nucleotides following DNA replication.

Double-strand breaks

Double-strand breaks (DSBs), in which both strands in the double helix are severed, are particularly hazardous to the cell because they can lead to genome rearrangements. Two mechanisms exist to repair DSBs: non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and recombinational repair

, a specialized DNA Ligase that forms a complex with the cofactor XRCC4, directly joins the two ends. To guide accurate repair, NHEJ relies on short homologous sequences called microhomologies present on the single-stranded tails of the DNA ends to be joined. If these overhangs are compatible, repair is usually accurate. NHEJ can also introduce mutations during repair. Loss of damaged nucleotides at the break site can lead to deletions, and joining of nonmatching termini forms translocations. NHEJ is especially important before the cell has replicated its DNA, since there is no template available for repair by homologous recombination. There are "backup" NHEJ pathways in higher eukaryotes. Besides its role as a genome caretaker, NHEJ is required for joining hairpin-capped double-strand breaks induced during V(D)J recombination, the process that generates diversity in B-cell and T-cell receptors in the vertebrate immune system.

Recombinational repair requires the presence of an identical or nearly identical sequence to be used as a template for repair of the break. The enzymatic machinery responsible for this repair process is nearly identical to the machinery responsible for chromosomal crossover during meiosis. This pathway allows a damaged chromosome to be repaired using a sister chromatid (available in G2 after DNA replication) or a homologous chromosome as a template. DSBs caused by the replication machinery attempting to synthesize across a single-strand break or unrepaired lesion cause collapse of the replication fork and are typically repaired by recombination.

Topoisomerases introduce both single- and double-strand breaks in the course of changing the DNA's state of supercoiling, which is especially common in regions near an open replication fork. Such breaks are not considered DNA damage because they are a natural intermediate in the topoisomerase biochemical mechanism and are immediately repaired by the enzymes that created them.

A team of French researchers bombarded Deinococcus radiodurans to study the mechanism of double-strand break DNA repair in that organism. At least two copies of the genome, with random DNA breaks, can form DNA fragments through annealing. Partially overlapping fragments are then used for synthesis of homologous regions through a moving D-loop that can continue extension until they find complementary partner strands. In the final step there is crossover by means of RecA-dependent homologous recombination.

Translesion synthesis

Translesion synthesis is a DNA damage tolerance process that allows the DNA replication machinery to replicate past DNA lesions such as thymine dimers or AP sites. It involves the switching out of regular DNA polymerases for specialized translesion polymerases, often with larger active sites that can facilitate the insertion of bases opposite damaged nucleotides. The polymerase switching is thought to be mediated by, among other factors, the post-translational modification of the replication processivity factor PCNA. Translesion synthesis polymerases often have low fidelity (high propensity to insert wrong bases) relative to regular polymerases. However, many are extremely efficient at inserting correct bases opposite specific types of damage. For example, Pol η mediates error-free bypass of lesions induced by UV irradiation, whereas Pol ζ introduces mutations at these sites. From a cellular perspective, risking the introduction of point mutations during translesion synthesis may be preferable to resorting to more drastic mechanisms of DNA repair, which may cause gross chromosomal aberrations or cell death.

NER pathway Animation

Nucleotide excision repair is a DNA repair mechanism. DNA constantly requires repair due to damage that can occur to bases from a vast variety of sources including chemicals but also ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is a particularly important mechanism by which the cell can prevent unwanted mutations by removing the vast majority of UV-induced DNA damage (mostly in the form of thymine dimers and 6-4-photoproducts). The importance of this repair mechanism is evidenced by the severe human diseases that result from in-born genetic mutations of NER proteins including Xeroderma pigmentosum and Cockayne's syndrome. While the base excision repair machinery can recognize specific lesions in the DNA and can correct only damaged bases that can be removed by a specific glycosylase, the nucleotide excision repair enzymes recognize bulky distortions in the shape of the DNA double helix. Recognition of these distortions leads to the removal of a short single-stranded DNA segment that includes the lesion, creating a single-strand gap in the DNA, which is subsequently filled in by DNA polymerase, which uses the undamaged strand as a template. NER can be divided into two subpathways (Global genomic NER and Transcription coupled NER) that differ only in their recognition of helix-distorting DNA damage.

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The process of nucleotide excision repair is controlled in E. coli by the UvrABC endonuclease enzyme complex, which consists of four Uvr proteins: UvrA, UvrB, UvrC, and DNA helicase II (sometimes also known as UvrD in this complex). First, a UvrA-UvrB complex scans the DNA, with the UvrA subunit recognizing distortions in the helix, caused for example by thymine dimers and other cyclobutyl dimers. When the complex recognizes such a distortion, UvrA exits and UvrB melts the base pairs between the two DNA strands. UvrB then recruits UvrC, which incises the DNA 8 nucleotides away from the distortion on the 5’ end and 4 nucleotides away on the 3’ end, creating a 12-nucleotide long single-stranded DNA that is excised with the help of the DNA helicase II. The resultant gap is then filled in using DNA polymerase I and DNA ligase. The basic excision process is very similar in higher cells, but these cells usually involve many more proteins – the E.coli example was merely used as a simple example.

Nucleotide Excision Repair in Eukaryotes
Nucleotide excision repair has more complexity in eukaryotes. But the general principles upon which it operates are similar. There are 9 major proteins involved in NER in mammalian cells and their names come from the diseases associated with the deficiencies in those proteins. XPA,XPB XPC,XPD,XPE,XPF, XPG all derive from Xeroderma pigmentosum and CSA and CSB represents proteins linked to Cockayne syndrome. Additionally, proteins, such as ERCCI , RPA , Rad23 and etc also participate in nucleotides excision repair.
As mentioned below, nucleotide excision repair can be categorized into two classes, global genome NER (GG-NER) and Transcription Coupled NER (TC-NER). Two different sets of proteins are involved in the distortion and recognition of the DNA damage in the two types of NER. In GG-NER, XPC-Rad23B complex is responsible for distortion recognition or DDB1 and DDB2 (XPE) can also recognize some damages caused by UV light. Additionally, XPA performs a function in damage recognition that is as yet poorly defined. In TC-NER, CS proteins, CSA and CSB bind DNA damage places instead of XPC-Rad23B.
The subsequent steps in GG-NER and TC-NER are similar to each other and to those in NER in prokaryotes. XPB and XPD, which are subunits in transcription factor TFIIH have helicase activity and unwind the DNA at the sites of damages. XPG protein has a structure-specific endonuclease activity, which makes an incision 3’ to the damaged DNA. Subsequently XPF protein, which is associated with ERCC1 makes the 5' incision during the NER. The dual-incision leads to the removal of a ssDNA with a single strand gap of 25~30 nucleotides.
The resulting gap in DNA is filled by DNA pol δ or ε by copying the undamaged strand. Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) assists the DNA polymerase in the reaction and Replication Protein A (RPA) protects the other DNA strand from degradation during the NER. Finally, DNA ligase seals the nicks to finish NER.
Global genomic NER
Global genomic NER repairs damage in both transcribed and untranscribed DNA strands in active and inactive genes throughout the genome. This pathway employs several 'damage sensing' proteins including the DNA-damage binding (DDB) and XPC-Rad23B complexes that constantly scan the genome and recognize helix distortions. Upon identification of a damaged site, subsequent repair proteins are then recruited to the damaged DNA to verify presence of DNA damage, excise the damaged DNA surrounding the lesion then fill in the repair patch.
Transcription coupled repair
One of the interesting aspects of nucleotide excision repair is the transcription coupled repair mechanism. When RNA polymerase II is transcribing a gene and encounters a helix distorting thymine dimer, for example, it cannot continue transcription and stalls, recruiting nucleotide excision repair proteins to itself. This has two important consequences: (1) the RNA polymerase itself becomes a tool for recognizing DNA damage and (2) genes that are being actively transcribed are given more attention by the repair mechanisms. This is an especially important mechanism as persistently stalled RNA polymerase II results in either arrest of the cell cycle or pre-programmed cell death (apoptosis).

How The Cell Cycle Works

The cell cycle consists of four distinct phases: G1 phase, S phase, G2 phase (collectively known as interphase) and M phase. M phase is itself composed of two tightly coupled processes: mitosis, in which the cell's chromosomes are divided between the two daughter cells, and cytokinesis, in which the cell's cytoplasm divides forming distinct cells. Activation of each phase is dependent on the proper progression and completion of the previous one. Cells that have temporarily or reversibly stopped dividing are said to have entered a state of quiescence called G0 phase.


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M phase

The relatively brief M phase consists of nuclear division (mitosis) and cytoplasmic division (cytokinesis). In plants and algae, cytokinesis is accompanied by the formation of a new cell wall.


After M phase, the daughter cells each begin interphase of a new cycle. Although the various stages of interphase are not usually morphologically distinguishable, each phase of the cell cycle has a distinct set of specialized biochemical processes that prepare the cell for initiation of cell division.
The first phase within interphase, from the end of the previous M phase till the beginning of DNA synthesis is called G1 (G indicating gap or growth). During this phase the biosynthetic activities of the cell, which had been considerably slowed down during M phase, resume at a high rate. This phase is marked by synthesis of various enzymes that are required in S phase, mainly those needed for DNA replication. Duration of G1 is highly variable, even among different cells of the same species.

S phase

The ensuing S phase starts when DNA synthesis commences; when it is complete, all of the chromosomes have been replicated, i.e., each chromosome has two (sister) chromatids. Thus, during this phase, the amount of DNA in the cell has effectively doubled, though the ploidy of the cell remains the same. Rates of RNA transcription and protein synthesis are very low during this phase. An exception to this is histone production, most of which occurs during the S phase.The duration of S phase is relatively constant among cells of the same species.

G2 phase

The cell then enters the G2 phase, which lasts until the cell enters mitosis. Again, significant protein synthesis occurs during this phase, mainly involving the production of microtubules, which are required during the process of mitosis. Inhibition of protein synthesis during G2 phase prevents the cell from undergoing mitosis.

G0 phase
The term "post-mitotic" is sometimes used to refer to both quiescent and senescent cells. Nonproliferative cells in multicellular eukaryotes generally enter the quiescent G0 state from G1 and may remain quiescent for long periods of time, possibly indefinitely (as is often the case for neurons). This is very common for cells that are fully differentiated. Cellular senescence is a state that occurs in response to DNA damage or degradation that would make a cell's progeny nonviable; it is often a biochemical alternative to the self-destruction of such a damaged cell by apoptosis. Some cell types in mature organisms, such as parenchymal cells of the liver and kidney, enter the G0 phase semi-permanently and can only be induced to begin dividing again under very specific circumstances; other types, such as epithelial cells, continue to divide throughout an organism's life.


If you can't smell, you probably can't taste very well either. They are closely related functions.Receptor cells for taste and smell are located in the mouth and nose, respectively.As the receptor cells are stimulated, they send impulses from these organs to the brain's smelling and tasting centers, the cortices.
For taste, impulses stimulated by the chemical compounds in food are sent to the gustatory cortex.For smells impulses stimulated by the chemical compounds in odors are sent to the olfactory cortex.As new compounds stimulate the receptors, the brain forms an odor memory bank so that it can recall the odors the next time they are present.

Secretory Pathway Animation

The secretory pathway is a series of steps a cell uses to move proteins out of the cell; a process known as secretion. The path of a protein destined for secretion has its origins in the rough endoplasmic reticulum, a membrane bound compartment in the cell. The protein then proceeds through the many compartments of the Golgi apparatus and finally ends up in a vesicle that fuses with the plasma membrane, dumping the proteins outside of the cell. At each step along the way there are crucial factors that determine how and if the protein will proceed. Some of these factors include regulation of transportation, selection of particular proteins, the mechanics of proceeding to the next step, and modifications that can occur to the protein along the way. All of these factors contribute to how a protein arrives outside of a cell after being synthesized.

General Regulation

In general, there are two different patterns of secretion. One pattern is called constitutive secretion. Proteins are continuously secreted from the cell regardless of environmental factors. No external signals are needed to initiate this process. Proteins are packaged in vesicles in the Golgi apparatus and are secreted via exocytosis, all around the cell. Cells that secrete constitutively have many Golgi apparatus scattered throughout the cytoplasm. Fibroblasts, osteoblasts and chondrocytes are some of the many cells that perform constitutive secretion.

In regulated secretion, proteins are packaged as described in the constitutive pathway, but they are only secreted in response to a specific signal, such as neural or hormonal stimulation. Cells that use the regulated secretory pathway are usually apical or polarized. The Golgi apparatus are found in a supranuclear position (between the nucleus and the secretory surface). Examples of cells that use regulated pathway are: goblet cells (secrete mucus), beta cells of the pancreas (secrete insulin) and odontoblasts (secrete dentin).

Protein Translocation
The first step in a protein's journey out of the cell is getting into the endoplasmic reticulum. Two methods exist for proteins to accomplish this. One is co-translational translocation and the other is post-translational translocation.

Co-Translational translocation is the action of a protein being fed into the ER as it is synthesized by the ribosome. In this scenario the protein begins to be translated normally. As the N-terminus (the first end of the protein to be synthesized) leaves the ribosome, a short sequence of the nascent protein's amino acids is recognized by a protein complex called SRP, or signal recognition particle. SRP binds to this sequence of amino acids and then subsequently binds to a protein complex embedded in the ER membrane called the SRP receptor. Both the SRP complex and SRP receptor complex hydrolyze a molecule of GTP into GDP. Once this occurs the growing protein chain is moved to a membrane channel called the translocon. It is through this hole in the ER membrane that the protein passes through as it is synthesized. The result of all this is a new protein residing within the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum.

Post-Translational translocation is the action of a protein passing into the ER after being fully synthesized by the ribosome.

Diabetes - Retinal Conditions

Tumor Destruction

Cell Cycle Control

The cell cycle, or cell-division cycle, is the series of events that take place in a eukaryotic cell leading to its replication. These events can be divided in two brief periods: interphase—during which the cell grows, accumulating nutrients needed for mitosis and duplicating its DNA—and the mitotic (M) phase, during which the cell splits itself into two distinct cells, often called "daughter cells". The cell-division cycle is a vital process by which a single-celled fertilized egg develops into a mature organism, as well as the process by which hair, skin, blood cells, and some internal organs are renewed.

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Regulation of the cell cycle involves steps crucial to the cell, including detecting and repairing genetic damage, and provision of various checks to prevent uncontrolled cell division. The molecular events that control the cell cycle are ordered and directional; that is, each process occurs in a sequential fashion and it is impossible to "reverse" the cycle.
Role of Cyclins and CDKs
Two key classes of regulatory molecules, cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), determine a cell's progress through the cell cycle. Leland H. Hartwell, R. Timothy Hunt, and Paul M. Nurse won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of these central molecules. Many of the genes encoding cyclins and CDKs are conserved among all eukaryotes, but in general more complex organisms have more elaborate cell cycle control systems that incorporate more individual components. Many of the relevant genes were first identified by studying yeast, especially Saccharomyces cerevisiae; genetic nomenclature in yeast dubs many of these genes cdc (for "cell division cycle") followed by an identifying number, e.g., cdc25.

Cyclins form the regulatory subunits and CDKs the catalytic subunits of an activated heterodimer; cyclins have no catalytic activity and CDKs are inactive in the absence of a partner cyclin. When activated by a bound cyclin, CDKs perform a common biochemical reaction called phosphorylation that activates or inactivates target proteins to orchestrate coordinated entry into the next phase of the cell cycle. Different cyclin-CDK combinations determine the downstream proteins targeted. CDKs are constitutively expressed in cells whereas cyclins are synthesised at specific stages of the cell cycle, in response to various molecular signals.
General mechanism of cyclin-CDK interaction
Upon receiving a pro-mitotic extracellular signal, G1 cyclin-CDK complexes become active to prepare the cell for S phase, promoting the expression of transcription factors that in turn promote the expression of S cyclins and of enzymes required for DNA replication. The G1 cyclin-CDK complexes also promote the degradation of molecules that function as S phase inhibitors by targeting them for ubiquitination. Once a protein has been ubiquitinated, it is targeted for proteolytic degradation by the proteasome. Active S cyclin-CDK complexes phosphorylate proteins that make up the pre-replication complexes assembled during G1 phase on DNA replication origins. The phosphorylation serves two purposes: to activate each already-assembled pre-replication complex, and to prevent new complexes from forming. This ensures that every portion of the cell's genome will be replicated once and only once. The reason for prevention of gaps in replication is fairly clear, because daughter cells that are missing all or part of crucial genes will die. However, for reasons related to gene copy number effects, possession of extra copies of certain genes would also prove deleterious to the daughter cells.
Mitotic cyclin-CDK complexes, which are synthesized but inactivated during S and G2 phases, promote the initiation of mitosis by stimulating downstream proteins involved in chromosome condensation and mitotic spindle assembly. A critical complex activated during this process is a ubiquitin ligase known as the anaphase-promoting complex (APC), which promotes degradation of structural proteins associated with the chromosomal kinetochore. APC also targets the mitotic cyclins for degradation, ensuring that telophase and cytokinesis can proceed.

Specific action of cyclin-CDK complexes
Cyclin D is the first cyclin produced in the cell cycle, in response to extracellular signals (eg. growth factors). Cyclin D binds to existing CDK4, forming the active cyclin D-CDK4 complex. Cyclin D-CDK4 complex in turn phosphorylates the retinoblastoma susceptibility protein (RB). The hyperphosphorylated RB dissociates from the E2F/DP1/RB complex (which was bound to the E2F responsive genes, effectively "blocking" them from transcription), activating E2F. Activation of E2F results in transcription of various genes like cyclin E, cyclin A, DNA polymerase, thymidine kinase, etc. Cyclin E thus produced binds to CDK2, forming the cyclin E-CDK2 complex, which pushes the cell from G1 to S phase (G1/S transition). Cyclin A along with CDK2 forms the cyclin A-CDK2 complex, which initiates the G2/M transition. Cyclin B-CDK1 complex activation causes breakdown of nuclear envelope and initiation of prophase, and subsequently, its deactivation causes the cell to exit mitosis.
Cell cycle inhibitors
Two families of genes, the cip/kip family and the INK4a/ARF (Inhibitor of Kinase 4/Alternative Reading Frame) prevent the progression of the cell cycle. Because these genes are instrumental in prevention of tumor formation, they are known as tumor suppressors.
The cip/kip family includes the genes p21, p27 and p57. They halt cell cycle in G1 phase, by binding to, and inactivating, cyclin-CDK complexes. p21 is activated by p53 (which, in turn, is triggered by DNA damage eg. due to radiation). p27 is activated by Transforming Growth Factor β (TGF β), a growth inhibitor.
The INK4a/ARF family includes p16INK4a, which binds to CDK4 and arrests the cell cycle in G1 phase, and p14arf which prevents p53 degradation. And the amount of chromosomes are able to double at the same rate as in phase 2

Monoclonal Antibodies-Lecture

Ronald Levy is an American medical doctor and scientist at Stanford University. He specializes in lymphoma, including Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Burkitt's Lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease His research investigates how the immune system can be harnessed to fight lymphoma. His work has led to the concept that antibodies can be used as personalized anticancer drugs and to the development of an antibody-based drug, Rituxan, that is widely used to treat lymphoma

Human Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a bilateral region of the brain, located in the hypothalamus, that is responsible for controlling endogenous circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions over a 24-hour period.
The SCN contains several cell types and several different peptides (including vasopressin and vasoactive intestinal peptide) and neurotransmitters, and interacts with many other regions of the brain.
The SCN is situated in the anterior hypothalamus immediately dorsal to the optic chiasm (CHO) bilateral to (on either side of) the third ventricle.

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Circadian effects
The SCN receives inputs from specialized photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells, via the retinohypothalamic tract.
Destruction of the SCN leads to a complete loss of circadian rhythm. Rats with damage to the SCN have no circadian rhythms, i.e., they sleep the same total amount, but polyphasically for random lengths at a time.
The SCN also controls 'slave oscillators' in the peripheral tissues, which exhibit their own ~24 hour rhythms, but are crucially synchronized by the SCN.
The importance of entraining our bodies to an exogenous cue, such as daylight, is reflected by several circadian rhythm sleep disorders, where this process does not function normally.
Neurons in the ventrolateral SCN (vlSCN) have the ability for light-induced gene expression. If light is turned on at night, the vlSCN relays this information throughout the SCN, in a process called entrainment.

Neurons in the dorsomedial SCN (dmSCN) are believed to make an endogenous 24-hour rhythm that can persist under constant darkness (in humans averaging about 24h 11min). Melanopsin-containing ganglion cells in the retina have a direct connection to the SCN via the retinohypothalamic tract.
The SCN sends information to other hypothalamic nuclei and the pineal gland to modulate body temperature and production of hormones such as cortisol and melatonin.
Other signals from the retina
  • The SCN is one of four nuclei that receive nerve signals directly from the retina.
  • The other three are the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), the superior colliculus, and the pretectum:
  • The LGN passes information about color, contrast, shape, and movement on to the visual cortex and itself signals to the SCN.
  • The superior colliculus controls the movement and orientation of the eyeball.
  • The pretectum controls the size of the pupil.
Gene expression
The circadian rhythm in the SCN is generated by a gene expression cycle in individual SCN neurons. This cycle has been well conserved through evolution, and is essentially similar in cells from many widely different organisms that show circadian rhythms.
Neurons in the SCN fire action potentials in a 24-hour rhythm. At mid-day, the firing rate reaches a maximum, and, during the night, it falls again. How the gene expression cycle (so-called the core clock) connects to the neural firing remains unknown.
Many SCN neurons are sensitive to light stimulation via the retina, and sustainedly firing action potentials during a light pulse (~30 seconds) in rodents. The photic response is likely linked to effects of light on circadian rhythms. In addition, focal application of melatonin can decrease firing activity of these neurons, suggesting that melatonin receptors present in the SCN mediate phase-shifting effects through the SCN.

Which Molecule Holds the Code

Neutrophil Adhesion Migration and Phagocytosis

A neutrophil travels along the capillary endothelial layer. Endothelial cells are triggered to express selectins on their surface for neutrophil integrin-mediated adherence. Transendothelial migration allows the neutrophil to traverse the blood endothelial layer. Squeezing into the extra-capillary space where migration towards a chemotactic gradient (chemotaxis) helps it to locate the pathogen. Subsequent phagocytosis ensues.