Today's Elites

Monday, October 04, 2010

Elasticity, Stem Cells, Telomeres, and Loss of Histones

Two results from separate investigations were announced last week that seem to have a peculiar similarity. One showed that stem cells respond and multiply when their environment causes them to stretch. The other showed that as telomeres shorten, the production of histones declines. These are what wind the DNA tightly in a spool like fashion. As histones are lost the DNA unwinds, causing loss of fidelity in transcription and hence epigenetic changes to the genome. So the positive or negative response to stretching or winding and age appears to be similar here.

One more piece of intriguing research in this vein. The elastic energy of DNA itself has now been measured. And it kinks as it is stretched by a critical amount. This to me appears to point strongly in the direction of the soliton model for DNA.

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