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So far Oxford has created 21 blog entries.

MicroRNAs as an Experimental Tool: RNAi

MicroRNAs regulate gene expression by knocking down the expression of specific genes.  This knockdown can occur either by targeting an mRNA for degradation or by blocking its translation or both.  Somewhat independently of the identification of microRNAs as a natural cellular process, a laboratory technique called RNA interference (RNAi) was developed that relies on the […]

Tracking Migration with Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA

Wherever we go, we bring along traces of where we have been.  In genetic and genomic terms, this is the process of migration, the leaving of one population and the joining of another, either because of physical movements or because of changes in the reproductive structure of the population.  All parts of the genome can […]

CRISPR applications: In vivo DNA editing and more

The CRISPR/Cas system that evolved to protect bacteria and archaea from foreign DNA has rapidly been used by molecular biologists for a number of purposes.  Recombination in the cell initiates with a double-stranded break in the DNA sequence.  Once that break has been made (and not repaired), the sequences at that site can be altered, […]

Telomeres

Telomeres are the specialized structures at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes.  Like many other fundamental properties of chromosomes, the existence of telomeres was first recognized by genetic experiments using Drosophila, performed by the “Fly Group” led by TH Morgan in the first decades of the 20th Century. The key experiments that recognized telomeres were done […]

Making DNA Visible: DNA Stains and Labels

What does the chemical DNA look like, and how does one see it?  DNA can be precipitated out of solution using alcohol and salt.  The precipitate, which can be spooled out like long pasta, is clear if it is unbroken.  DNA is colorless.  Thus, when DNA molecules are separated by electrophoresis or hybridized with one […]

The Sickle Cell Trait Heterozygote Advantage

According to eastern Nigerian mythology, an Ogbanje is a child who dies within a few months or years of birth and returns to a mythical land, only to re-enter the womb of his or her mother and be born again.  Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart describes an ogbanje that was reborn nine times to […]

The Importance of the DNA Backbone: separating DNA molecules by size

The DNA molecule has a long backbone of phosphate molecules on each strand; the backbone can be compared to the uprights on a ladder.  A number of different important laboratory techniques have been developed based on the physicochemical properties of the phosphate backbone; even more techniques are designed around the base pairs, which we discuss […]

How Toadstools Affect Transcription

One of the most common and widespread mushrooms in Europe is also among the most toxic toadstools.  Amanita phalloides (familiarly known as the death cap mushroom or toadstool) grows throughout European forests, typically at the base of hardwood trees such as oaks, and is frequently encountered by picnickers and hikers in the late summer or […]

The importance of understanding scientific fundamentals

Philip Meneely (Ph.D. University of Minnesota), Rachel Dawes Hoang (Ph.D Cambridge University), Iruka Dawes Okeke (Ph.D Obafemi Awolowo University), and Katherine Heston (M.S. University of Wisconsin) coauthored Genetics: Genes, Genomes, and Evolution. Genetics: Genes, Genomes, and Evolution covers the fundamental principles of genetics and molecular biology in both bacteria and eukaryotes from an evolutionary perspective, […]

The everyday applications and benefits of learning about genetics

Philip Meneely (Ph.D. University of Minnesota), Rachel Dawes Hoang (Ph.D Cambridge University), Iruka Okeke (Ph.D Obafemi Awolowo University), and Katherine Heston (M.S. University of Wisconsin) coauthored Genetics: Genes, Genomes, and Evolution. Genetics: Genes, Genomes, and Evolution covers the fundamental principles of genetics and molecular biology in both bacteria and eukaryotes from an evolutionary perspective, using […]