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The Complex Truth About ‘Junk DNA’
Genomes hold immense quantities of noncoding DNA. Some of it is essential for life, some seems useless, and some has its own agenda.
DNA Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth.
The DNA of some viruses doesn’t use the same four nucleotide bases found in all other life. New work shows how this exception is possible and hints that it could be more common than we think.
Secret Workings of Smell Receptors Revealed for First Time
Researchers have finally seen how some smell receptors bind to odor molecules. The work yields new insights into one of the most mysterious and versatile senses.
RNA Brakes May Stabilize a Cellular Symbiosis
In some symbiotic partnerships, an RNA-based mechanism may sabotage the growth of greedy hosts.
Scientists Catch Jumping Genes Rewiring Genomes
Transcription factors that act throughout the genome can arise from mashups of transposable elements inserted into established genes.
DNA’s Histone Spools Hint at How Complex Cells Evolved
New work shows that histones, long treated as boring spools for DNA, sit at the center of the origin story of eukaryotes and continue to play important roles in evolution and disease.
Researchers Read the Sugary ‘Language’ on Cell Surfaces
Glycans, the complex sugars that stud cellular surfaces, are like a language that life uses to mediate vital interactions. Researchers are learning how to read their meaning.
Some Proteins Change Their Folds to Perform Different Jobs
Unusual proteins that can quickly fold into different shapes provide cells with a novel regulatory mechanism.
A Newfound Source of Cellular Order in the Chemistry of Life
Inside cells, droplets of biomolecules called condensates merge, divide and dissolve. Their dance may regulate vital processes.