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molecular biology

Evolving bird
genetics

Beating the Odds for Lucky Mutations

If DNA repair makes useful mutations more likely, it could accelerate cells’ adaptations to harsh environments.

Illustration of bats shedding their genome by Skip Sterling
molecular biology

Shrinking Bat DNA and Elastic Genomes

Species gain and shed startling amounts of DNA as they evolve, and even genomes that look stable churn furiously. What does it mean?

Virus Hamiltonian Path
molecular biology

The Illuminating Geometry of Viruses

Mathematical insights into how RNA helps viruses pull together their protein shells could guide future studies of viral behavior and function.

Missing Mutations Suggest a Reason for Sex
molecular biology

Missing Mutations Suggest a Reason for Sex

Sex might help natural selection purge excessive mistakes from our genes.

GFAP staining in glial cells, neurofilament protein in axons and DNA in cell nuclei
Abstractions blog

Cell Atlases Reveal Biology’s Frontiers

New techniques expose unexpected diversity within seemingly uniform tissues.

Bear melting still
molecular biology

How Heat Kills Cells

The proteins that unravel as the temperature starts to rise turn out to be among the most vital.

Shapeshifting Protein: Still
molecular biology

The Shape-Shifting Army Inside Your Cells

Proteins work like rigid keys to activate cellular functions — or so everyone thought. Scientists are discovering a huge number of proteins that shape-shift to do their work, upending a century-old maxim of biology.

Illustration: Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells
viruses

Viruses Find a New Way to Hijack Cells

A virus that causes crippling birth defects has been shown to do something else: It changes thousands of messages coming from DNA that control normal cellular activities.