Graduation week

May 14, 2009

I spent the last week traveling to two graduations.  Our oldest daughter graduated on Monday from the College of Wooster, with a BA in Geology.  Heather will be attending the University of Montana in pursuit of a Master’s Degree.

Earlier, on May 6, my sister’s oldest son (Corey) graduated from Officer Candidate’s School at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.

Ensign McPartlin.  That has a great sound.

A few photos beneath the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Where polyadenylation, siRNAs, and DNA methylation meet

May 14, 2009

It has become more apparent in recent years that the different aspects of gene expression – transcription initiation, transcription elongation, mRNA capping, splicing, and polyadenylation, transport of the mRNA to the cytoplasm, translation, and mRNA quality control – are rather extensively interconnected.  One corollary is that the polyadenylation complex, through various of its subunits, plays roles in various of these other processes.  This has been established for the most parts in mammalian and yeast models, but some recent work in plants is adding new and important variation to this theme.

A most recent of such studies has appeared online on PNAS.  This study, from the lab of Caroline Dean, reveals that the polyadenylation factor subunit FY (a homolog of the yeast protein Pfs2), acting in concert with the flowering regulator FCA, plays a crucial role in chromatin modifications that regulate the expression of the FLC gene.  Interestingly, this effect is not limited to just the FLC gene. Rather, other genes that are silenced by small RNA-mediated DNA methylation also require FY for this silencing.  This provocative finding seems to place FY in some sort of proximity to the small RNA-guided DNA methylation machinery, and may have some relevance to many aspects of transcription and mRNA quality control.

The abstract and citation follows. As always, enjoy. Read the rest of this entry »

Meanwhile, back in the RNA World …

May 14, 2009

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. I don’t have time for some, um, wordy essays, but time hasn’t stood still. So I thought I would point out some interesting stuff that has appeared recently. These have an RNA World theme.

If there is a message I wish to send, it is that the RNA World is, as always, a thriving and exciting place for a scientist to be. Enjoy. (The last two entries are going to generate lots of buzz in the blogosphere.) Read the rest of this entry »