News

  • The CRISPR-Cas system is adapted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria and archaea, it is a prokaryotic immune system that confers resistance to foreign genetic elements. This CRISPR-associated system is highly expanded and developed by Dr. Jennifer Doudna in UC, Berkeley (https://doudnalab.org/) and Dr. Feng Zhang at Broad Institute (https://zlab.bio/). Currently, the CRISPR-Cas system offers the eukaryotic genome (DNA level) and epigenome editing (RNA level), which can be repurposed in gene activation or repression via CRISPR-Cas or variants fusion to other modifiers.
  • Orchestrated gene expression is critical in cell differentiation and organ development. Gene transcripts can be controlled in different layers including but not limited to: a) Temporal and spatial expressed transcription factor can binding to certain genes’ promoter region, trigger their expression; b) mRNA-alternative splicing coupled to nonsense-mediated decay of transcripts ensure no toxic truncated protein product; c) 5’ UTR (Untranslated Region) of transcript contains various regulatory elements, play a major role in translation initiation; d) 3’ UTR carrying lots of miRNA binding sites plays a role in mRNAs’ half-life, mRNA stability, in final protein production.
  • Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis is to identify which molecular markers correlate with an observed trait, bridging the gap between genes and the phenotypic traits. Genome-wide association studies using DNA level variants (e.g. single nucleotide polymorphism) is a powerful tool for QTL mapping. However, DNA level variants may not be the causal variants, they might just hitchhike with causal variants, or they function as trans factors, indirectly regulate in a distal genome region. Message RNA is the intermediate level between genetic materials (DNA) and phenotypic traits (protein). Using RNA level variants (i.e. transcript expression level, eQTL) has its unique advantage: they are more associated with traits. One vivid example is that our body has tissue-specific transcript patterns while sharing the same genome sequences.
  • In June, all 50 states in the USA have begun to reopen in some way. Some companies or institutes are providing employee coronavirus testing for returning to the office. Diagnostic capability is always challenging in such a SARS-CoV2 pandemic. We summarized here of three strategies, which used next-generation sequencing, to do high throughput diagnostics of SARs-CoV2.
  • Personal Health Information Management (PHIM) is to stay healthy and combat illness, and it includes sleep, diet, and exercise management. Wearable devices such as a smartwatch, wristband, have been popular as they track our sleeping, heart rate, and activity, provide wearers with health and fitness recommendations. Today, we are going to talk about molecular dynamics (not heart rate, not calories burned) in our acute physical activity.
  • Quick Biology has been posting lots of eukaryotic single cell profiling methods and their applications in biomedical, stem cell field. Bacterial cells, however, have lagged a lot due to the presence of thick prokaryotic cell (lysis challenge) and lack of poly(A) tails mRNA (capture efficiency in reverse transcription). In current Nature Microbiology, Scientists in Columbia University borrow two concepts i) single cell combinatorial indexing ii) cells are themselves as compartments for barcoding, developed prokaryotic expression-profiling by tagging RNA in situ and sequencing (PETRI-seq).
  • Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is an accessible biomarker for cancer detection, molecular stratification, therapeutic monitoring, and post-treatment surveillance. Compared to traditional tissue biopsy, ctDNA as liquid biopsy is minimally invasive and can be performed serially to monitor tumor evolution or response to any drug therapy.  Due to these advantages, ctDNA is being rapidly adopted in precision medicine.  However, ctDNA sequencing assays face major challenges such as cell-free DNA exists as small fragments, and only a small fraction (< 0.01-0.1 %) of cell-free DNA is tumor-derived as we call ctDNA. In addition, ctDNA sequencing assays are also affected by a range of experimental variables and artifacts.
  • T cell receptor (TCR) diversity or heterogeneity is a great measure of immune response to pathogens, cancer, and therapeutic interventions. Identification of exact pair of TCR-alpha and TCR-beta chain interacting with an antigen provides a potential vaccination therapy for cancer. Multiplex PCR amplicon sequencing is a straightforward strategy for analyzing TCR alpha and beta variables. However, non-specific amplification, primer dimers caused by multiple primers in PCR generate lots of NGS reads useless finally.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 endonuclease is a powerful gene-editing technology. Direct editing of cells by delivering Cas9 gene typically triggers an immune response, a big challenge for CRISPR gene editing therapies. While in ex vivo, cells are treated in a dish before transplantation, Cas9 immune response can be circumvented as Cas9 transiently expresses, Cas9 is cleaned up before corrected cells are administered into patients (ref1).
  • The brain is the most complex organ in humans, no matter in anatomy level, cell level, or molecule biology level. It has numerous types of cells that function differently, it also has enriched activity of gene expression, pre-mRNA alternative splicing. Understanding molecule mechanism regulation of the brain is vital both in human mental disorders, in high cognition of humans in primate brain evolution.

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