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Questions tagged [molecular-biology]

The study of the molecular processes underlying life.

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Why are so few foods blue?

Although blue foods exist, they're rare enough compared to other foods for food preparers to use blue plasters as a convention. The natural colour of a given food is due to pigments that have some ...
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4answers
8k views

What is the longest-lasting protein in a human body?

Protein life times are, on average, not particularly long, on a human life timescale. I was wondering, how old is the oldest protein in a human body? Just to clarify, I mean in terms of seconds/...
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Why are amino acids in biology homochiral?

Why are nearly all amino acids in organisms left-handed (exception is glycine which has no isomer) when abiotic samples typical have an even mix of left- and right-handed molecules?
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How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored?

Background I am a computer programmer who is fascinated by artificial intelligence and artificial neural networks, and I am becoming more curious about how biological neural networks work. Context &...
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Why is ATP the preferred choice for energy carriers?

Why is ATP the most prevalent form of chemical energy storage and utilization in most cells?
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3answers
3k views

Does any molecule other than DNA have a double-helical structure?

DNA is known to have a double-helical structure. Do any other molecules have this structure?
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How does RNA transcription determine which half of the DNA to use?

I feel that I might have a complete misunderstanding here. If DNA has two strands, how does the machinery of RNA transcription determine which one to transcribe?
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3answers
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How, on a physical level, does ATP confer energy?

When ATP is used as the energy currency to make, say, reaction X + Y → Z happen, is what happens on a physical level down at the molecular scale that during the reaction ATP + H2O → ADP + Pi  &...
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1answer
2k views

ATP cost for gene expression

How would you estimate the number of ATPs required to transcribe, export and translate a single eukariotic protein?
24
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1answer
4k views

How did scientists discover HIV?

Imagining that we're now in 1983 (when HIV was discovered), there were no modern machines at that time to sequence massive genome extracted from blood. There was a strange disease and no one know what ...
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4answers
1k views

How are the boundaries of a gene determined?

What statistical processes and methods are used by geneticists/molecular biologists to know where one gene starts and one ends?
23
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1answer
529 views

Can a human be made with ovum but without sperm?

This article says that scientists were successful in making a mouse using only a sperm and no egg (ovum). The article also states that this procedure could be applicable to humans. However, I want to ...
21
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3answers
4k views

How long can I store extracted RNA?

If I extract RNA from a (leaf tissue) sample using a one-step phenol:chloroform extraction, how long can those samples be stored at -80°C? And how many times can I defrost and refreeze them before ...
21
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1answer
1k views

Regulation of chromatin structure

Recently, I reviewed the different levels of chromatin structure. The primary level is nucleosomes, where DNA is bound to histones, and has structural similarity to "beads on a string." The secondary ...
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1answer
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Why are sushi proteins called “sushi”? What are the origins of this name?

Does anybody know why complement control proteins (also short consensus repeats) are called "sushi" proteins? Is there any special reason for their name?
18
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1answer
309 views

What is the prehistory of amino acids in cells?

As a followup to Why 20 amino acids instead of 64? and What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?, I am trying to understand the prehistory of amino acids in cells. All living ...
17
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6answers
5k views

Why are some genes dominant over others? What is the mechanism behind it?

If I have a brown eye gene which encodes the protein that is responsible for the brown color and have a blue eye gene as well, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene maintain ...
17
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4answers
24k views

Why do we have no enzyme to digest cellulose?

As we know, cellulose is the most abundant polysaccharide in nature. Why don't we have an enzyme to digest cellulose?
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3answers
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why is DNA antiparallel? Can it be parallel?

My biology textbook mentions that DNA is antiparallel and it got me wondering... Can DNA be parallel? What would happen if it was parallel? could DNA still replicate right?
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3answers
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Is the size of the genome across species roughly the same?

Chromosome number differs across species. Is the amount of DNA comparable between organisms, just being split into smaller chunks in those species with more chromosomes, or do species have different ...
16
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3answers
2k views

Is prion a term used to describe the normal form of the protein as well as the disease causing form?

I've been reading my textbook and it refers to prions as a normal protein with a helpful function but it can turn into a disease causing form. However, I look in my other textbook and it refers to the ...
16
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2answers
394 views

How can computer predictions of protein folding be verified computationally?

Currently, there is a lot of research focused on solving the folding patterns of proteins using computers (Folding@Home, https://fold.it/portal/, etc.). The question that I have is: How do you know ...
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6answers
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Online Molecular and Cellular Biology Video Lectures?

I am looking for video lectures to go through to guide my reading in intro molecular and cellular biology. I've had intro bio and I study evolutionary theory, but my molecule- and cell-level knowledge ...
15
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2answers
718 views

Intrinsically disordered proteins as potential drug targets

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are a class of proteins that do not adopt a stable secondary or tertiary structure under physiological conditions in vitro, but still have biological functions....
15
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2answers
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Why is there more variation in proteins than genes?

The Genome of a cell or organism is the same as that of the entire organism. However, the proteome of an organism is much greater than that of each cell (unless the organism is unicellular). How do ...
15
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1answer
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What did Richard Feynman contribute to molecular biology?

Some time ago, I read James Gleick's "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman", a wonderful biography of Feynman and, by extension, most of modern physics. In this book, the author mentions ...
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2answers
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How does translational coupling work in prokaryotes?

Today I heard about a phenomenon called "translational coupling", where the translation of one protein influences the translation of another protein. The messenger RNA levels don't seem influenced. ...
14
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3answers
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How does the body switch between aerobic and anaerobic respiration?

Lets take the case of a person doing heavy exercise. Aerobic respiration is taking place, but oxygen is about to be finished up. Glycolysis occurs, Krebs cycle finishes. Now NADH and FADH2 enter ...
14
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2answers
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Why is uracil, rather than thymine, used in RNA?

This question was posed on SE Biology some time ago, but all the answers, including the accepted one, answered a different question instead: “Why is thymine, rather than uracil, used in DNA?”. I ...
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3answers
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Does a man contain all the genes needed to make a woman?

This question is brought on by a Sci Fi novel I am thinking about writing. The plot device involves a colonist in charge of building a population on a new planet who loses his supply of embryos and so ...
13
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1answer
88k views

Why do we add salt when precipitating DNA?

All the DNA extraction protocols I have seen involve adding salts to the extraction buffer. What is the purpose of the salts? What happens if they aren't included?
13
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1answer
934 views

How do ion channels transport only specific ions?

Ion channels, such as $Na^+$ channels and $K^+$ channels, are higly specific for ion permeability. But how do these channels achieve and maintain this specificity? Like how does a $K^+$ channel ...
13
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2answers
353 views

Are codons that map to the same amino acids interchangeable?

From wikipedia, in the section on the RNA codon table, I see a mapping between codons and amino acids. There, Valine is related to GUU, GUA, GUG, GUC. Does it mean in the same context that these ...
13
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1answer
2k views

Can I elute my GFP-tagged protein off anti-GFP antibody using a peptide?

I would like to perform a modified co-immunoprecipitation assay using a GFP-tagged protein. We are going to bind the tagged protein to anti-GFP antibody then bind that to protein A/G beads, however ...
13
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1answer
605 views

When did CRISPR/Cas9 evolve and what is the likelihood that a superior system for live cell genome editing has already evolved on earth since then?

I've read that CRISPR/Cas9 is currently being implemented and tested for its ability to edit genomes in live cells, and that it is supplanting other genome editing tools in labs, such as TALENs and ...
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2answers
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Why aren't 'exons' named 'introns'?

Why are introns called 'introns' when they are the actual ones who are getting spliced out from the pre-mRNA. Shouldn't exons be named introns as they are the ones that are 'in' and are not 'exiting'? ...
12
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2answers
311 views

Is there a program that simulates biology on a molecular level?

Is there a computer program that simulates biology on a molecular level? Software that has rules that simulates the rules of molecular-biology?
12
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3answers
6k views

How long can E. coli stocks be stored at -20°C?

I'm volunteering for a biohacker lab - biocurious in Sunnyvale. The have a pretty good set of equipment - gel boxes, incubators, but they don't have a -80°C freezer yet. I'd like to set up some ...
12
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1answer
5k views

Is female the default sex in humans?

I was taught in school that female is the default sex in humans based on the following logic: Development into a human male requires the activation of the SRY gene in the foetus. If that doesn't ...
12
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2answers
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Why are restriction enzymes not frozen?

We all know restriction enzymes are proteins, but we never freeze them. They are instead provided in high glycerol containing solutions by companies and stored at -20C. Is there a reason why this is ...
12
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2answers
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What is the function of the RNA primer in DNA replication?

During DNA replication, RNA primase puts an RNA primer in the lagging strand. What is the function of this RNA primer? Why can't the enzymes put DNA fragments directly?
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1answer
13k views

How tolerant are ants to cold?

There was a trail of what are commonly known as sugar ants (small, brown, hyperactive) in my kitchen. Three of them walked onto an ice tray placed in their path. They only walked a short distance on ...
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3answers
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Why does replication require primers while transcription does not?

In transcription, there is no need for any primer. I guess the basic mechanism of DNA polymerase & RNA polymerase is the same. So why does replication have the need for a primer?
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1answer
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How is Taq polymerase produced?

I've seen Taq polymerase being marketed as either "native" or "recombinant". I understand that the recombinant version is produced by specially modified Escherichia coli strains that have the gene for ...
11
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2answers
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Why is SOC medium recommended for transformations?

In pretty much every transformation protocol I've seen SOC medium is used to grow the bacteria for a short while after the tranformation and before plating. I've usually substituted LB medium for ...
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4answers
12k views

Why is AUG the initiation codon?

Is there any reason why AUG is the initiation codon? Can’t translation start with different codons?
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2answers
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Agarose vs agar? Why do DNA gels use agarose only and how do you obtain agarose from agar?

Agar is a relatively cheap substance from red algae. And it contains a saccharide agarose as well as a small amount of pectin. Agar is used for culture plates as is, but for DNA gels a grade of ...
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3answers
673 views

Why did scientists think humans had 100,000 genes (before the Human Genome Project)?

One of the major results of the Human Genome Project (HGP) was that humans have far fewer separate genes than previously thought. From a 2004 article about the HGP: Francis S. Collins, director of ...
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2answers
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How do I clean phenol contaminated RNA without losing any of the sample?

I recently extracted RNA from developing plant leaves for the first time, as part of a very long and intensive experiment. The samples were extremely precious because of the amount of effort that went ...
11
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1answer
789 views

Restriction enzymes, how are the recognition sequences determined?

How were the recognition sequences (e.g. GAATTC of EcoRI, GGATCC of BamHI) characterised? Text books only list the recognition ...