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View Diary: Microbiome research vaults science and politics in reach of Lao Tzu (56 comments)

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  •  a few links please? (6+ / 0-)

    Sounds very interesting. Or maybe, if they are very specialized, could you summarize it in a diary for us?

    •  Yes, please! (7+ / 0-)

      I second this request.  Are we fundamentally a community instead of "rugged individualists"?  Absolutely cool idea.

      America needs a UNION NEWS channel. We (unions) have the money, we have the talent. Don't buy 30 second time slots on corporate media, union leaders; fund your own cable news channel and tell the real story 24/7/365

      by monkeybrainpolitics on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 02:13:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Links forthcoming, but only tomorrow... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      George3, Larsstephens

      they're all on my server and it's backing itself up right now, so the increased latency has turned it into molasses.

    •  Here's a start . . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steve Masover
      If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born.

      In 2000, a team of Boston scientists discovered a peculiar gene in the human genome. It encoded a protein made only by cells in the placenta. They called it syncytin.

      The cells that made syncytin were located only where the placenta made contact with the uterus. They fuse together to create a single cellular layer, called the syncytiotrophoblast, which is essential to a fetus for drawing nutrients from its mother. The scientists discovered that in order to fuse together, the cells must first make syncytin.

      What made syncytin peculiar was that it was not a human gene. It bore all the hallmarks of a gene from a virus.

      Viruses have insinuated themselves into the genome of our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years. They typically have gotten there by infecting eggs or sperm, inserting their own DNA into ours. There are 100,000 known fragments of viruses in the human genome,  making up over 8% of our DNA. Most of this virus DNA has been hit by so many mutations that it’s nothing but baggage our species carries along from one generation to the next. Yet there are some viral genes that still make proteins in our bodies. Syncytin appeared to be a hugely important one to our own biology. Originally, syncytin allowed viruses to fuse host cells together so they could spread from one cell to another. Now the protein allowed babies to fuse to their mothers.

      the rest of the story is at Discover (the magazine)

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