March 30, 2007

This month’s molecule is…

Filed under: biotech — Duncan Hull @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Space-filling and backbone model of 1HRYThere are a number of “Molecule of the Month” style mini-reviews on the web, which highlight one particular molecule (usually a protein) every month, in an accessible style. Two of my personal favourites are protein spotlight: one month, one protein written by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen of the Swiss-Prot team and Molecule of the Month at the Protein Databank PDB edited by David Goodsell. Both these features are worth a quick read because they can help bio-literate and bio-curious users to increase and reinforce their knowledge relatively quickly.

Part of what makes the PDB one worth reading is the colourful visualisations and short descriptions that go with it. For March 2007, PDBs molecule of the month is Zinc Fingers. Meanwhile, over at swissprot, the molecule is Sex-determining region Y protein (Sry), used to illustrate the tenuous nature of sex.

[This post originally published on nodalpoint with comments]

January 22, 2007

DNA mania

Filed under: bio — Duncan Hull @ 10:29 pm
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What does DNA do when it’s not being transcribed into RNA? It causes DNA mania…

Quote of the Day

“DNA, you know, is Midas’ gold. Everyone who touches it goes mad.”

Maurice Wilkins

Read the rest in [1,2]

Do you or your colleagues ever suffer from DNA mania [3,4]? A biochemist friend of mine once semi-jokingly remarked that people’s manic obsession with DNA is a bit like buying some food and being more interested in the bar-code on the packaging, than the food inside. In his particular area of research, DNA is about as exciting as bar-codes, because it doesn’t even leave the nucleus of the cell, at least in Eukaryotes. I wonder what readers of nodalpoint think of this analogy? Anyway, as a result of this philosophy, most of his community have developed an unhealthy and manic interest in proteins rather than DNA. You could call this particular obsessive-compulsive disorder “protein mania”.

Depending on the scientific obsession(s) of your particular community, you might need to substitute Protein or RNA for DNA in the above quote, as appropriate. And if that is all too molecular for you, substitute any other of your favourite bioinformatics buzzwords.


  1. Horace Freeland Judson (1996) The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology
  2. John Sulston (2006) Won for All: How the Drosophila Genome was sequenced: a book by Michael Ashburner
  3. André Pichot (1999) Histoire de la notion de gène (one of the first documented uses of the phrase “DNA mania”)
  4. Denis Noble (2006) The Music of Life: Biology Beyond the Genome (an antidote to DNA mania and the Dawkinian gene-centric view of Life)
  5. DNA Photograph taken by Unapersona in Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Calatrava building, Valencia, Spain.

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