Using a genetic mouse model developed at Berkeley Lab with CRISPR/Cas9 editing technology, University of California, Davis, researchers led by Alexander Nord have examined the developmental impact of a specific mutation found in some rare cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The project began while Nord—now an assistant professor with the Center for Neuroscience at UC Davis—was a postdoc in the Mammalian Functional Genomics Laboratory of Berkeley Lab co-authors Axel Visel, Len Pennacchio, and Diane Dickel. In a paper published June 26 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers report that mice with a loss-of-function mutation in one copy of the CHD8 gene have increased brain volume and cognitive impairment, similar to that seen in people with the same mutation. CHD8 encodes a protein responsible for packaging DNA in cells, which in turn controls gene expression during development. Read more from UC Davis.
Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences Jay Keasling has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Amgen Biochemical and Molecular Engineering award, to be presented July 19 at the 20th Conference on Biochemical and Molecular Engineering in Newport Beach, Calif. The award, given in memory of metabolic engineering pioneer James E. “Jay” Bailey, recognizes research excellence and leadership.
Researchers led by Berkeley Lab Biosciences’ Cheryl Kerfeld (MBIB), who holds a joint appointment at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, have provided the first atomic-level resolution picture of an intact bacterial microcompartment (BMC) shell. The intact shell and component proteins from the saltwater bacterium Haliangium ochraceum were crystallized at Berkeley Lab; X-ray diffraction data were collected at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Details of the BMC shell’s structure and composition were published in the journal Science.More »
In a paper published June 21 in the journal Nature, Berkeley Lab Biological Systems and Engineering Division researchers Amy Strom and Gary Karpen provide evidence that liquid-liquid phase separation in the nucleus of cells plays an important role in how genes are regulated to be silenced or expressed. They observed that heterochromatin—an unusual part of DNA that generally must be silenced for cells to function properly—is sequestered in droplets that fuse together just like two drops of oil surrounded by water. Understanding this mechanism could open up a third of the genome that was previously inaccessible to genome manipulation and gene therapy, Karpen said. Read more in the News Center release.
Many bacteria contain structures called carboxomes that act as mini factories for various purposes, such as building sugar from carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Researchers affiliated with Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division and the Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University are studying how these factories are constructed and how they function. In a key step toward identifying the essential building blocks, Manuel Sommer and Cheryl Kerfeld have analyzed more than 200 sets of genes from different cyanobacteria—also known as blue-green algae—that contain carboxysomes. The work lays the foundation for designing new kinds of factories that could produce synthetic materials, such as fragrances or the precursors for green fuels. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Botany. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.