The Deadpool Protein
Deadpool is known for his amazing healing factor and this fictional character has something in common with a small but popular lab model organism; the zebrafish. Zebrafish have also been shown to have super-hero like powers and are able to repair spinal cord injuries. A protein called CTGF (connective tissue growth factor) was found to be crucial in aiding regeneration in zebrafish1. Humans also have CTFG which is 90% similar to the zebrafish protein but it is unlikely that we’ll be turning into super-heroes just yet since healing is a much more complicated process in mammals.
Replicating the origin of life
RNA is thought to be the “mother” molecule that led to the formation of life, this being the most prominent theory presently into what existed in a pre-DNA world. DNA is often considered the ‘blue-print’ of life but since it needs a lot of help from its friends in terms of enzymes and a number of other proteins, it is unlikely that life started in this way. In new experiments, not too dissimilar to those conducted at King’s College London more than 50 years ago to discover the structure of DNA, RNA has been found to be more flexible than previously thought. These crystallographic structures display new base pairings, in addition to the known Watson and Crick pairings in DNA2. The findings suggest that even with fewer friends, replication of RNA molecules was still possible, albeit with more trial and error.
Biochemical and Electronic languages are exchangeable
Biochemical kinetics have been translated into systems used by computers3. This complex exchange of information will enable large networks of biochemical reactions to be modelled that may eventually permit modelling of a whole cell. This would enable a similar revolution as to the aviation industry which was previously dependent on testing in wind tunnels, whereas nowadays the models alone are sufficient.
Written by: Veronica I