New Theory for Introns: Mutation Sponges

first_imgWhen you don’t know where damage will occur, it makes sense to spread the assets around.  Scientists from City of Hope Medical Center (a cancer care and research institute) have a new idea about introns, those regions of DNA “junk“ between the more interesting exons (parts of genes).  Perhaps the introns are mutation sponges.    Writing in PNAS,1 nine scientists provided evidence that mutations occasionally come in showers.  When a bad translation machine comes along, for instance, it could inflict a lot of damage in a small region.  By spreading the genetic material apart with introns, most of the damage will be absorbed by the non-coding DNA.  Here’s how they expressed it:The observed mutation showers often will affect one or a few genes in mammalian genomes, because they tend to diminish within 30 kb.  Therefore, most mammalian genes range from 20 kb to 1 Mb with 90+% of the sequence within introns.  Approximately 90% of the mutations within a mutation shower generally would not have functional consequences.  Thus, the introns serve as a “sponge” to absorb many of the mutation showers without damage to protein function.They also suggested that a mutation shower in the wrong place might produce “cancer in an instant.”  They asked,Might there be scattered mutation showers throughout the genome that occur, perhaps by nucleotide pool imbalances during replication or another cellular metabolic process?  This is a critical unanswered question.  If scattered mutation showers occur, multiple genes could be inactivated, leading to cancer in an instant.They said this might explain why many tumors have high averages of mutations.1Wang, Gonzalez, Scaringe, Tsai, Liu, Gu, Li, Hill and Sommer, “Evidence for mutation showers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0610902104, published online before print May 7, 2007.No one knows if this is “the reason” for introns, but it shows that there are creative ways to discover a function for something that otherwise looks meaningless.  What a novel concept: sponges in the genome to absorb mutations.  If introns are more likely to take the hits, then the sponges can be cut out after the translation by the spliceosome, and 90% of the errors can be thrown away.  This way, it is more likely the exons will link up without loss of function.  Post-translational proofreading can then provide additional protection against the remaining 10%.  It sounds like an intelligently planned strategy the military or an IT company would use.  Perhaps other functions for introns will come to light if scientists approach them from a design perspective.    The paper, however, was categorized under the topic of evolution.  The authors said the existence of mutation showers has “implications… for evolution.”  But they did not provide any evidence that mutation showers could advance evolution in any way, shape or form.  Mutation showers cannot be sources of evolutionary innovation.  On the contrary, they are threats to be mitigated.  Risk management requires a strategy appropriate to the threat.  Like Kansas towns in tornado alley, it’s best if they are kept small and separated by large tracts of vacant land.  Such a strategy does not eliminate the threat; it just limits the exposure.    Yes, this has implications for evolution, but evolutionary progress has nothing to do with it.  This is disaster preparedness, not innovation.  It wouldn’t make any sense to expect to find new functioning towns in the debris of a passing F5 twister – or Boeing 747s, either.  Just ask the folks in Greensburg, Kansas.(Visited 79 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Skills, innovation part of South Africa’s story

first_imgSouth Africa’s story at the World Economic Forum Davos this year will be of the huge strides the country is making in skills development and innovation. (Image: Brand South Africa) • Rising to the challenge of Africa’s urban future • Archive: Nelson Mandela at Davos • Four key issues on the agenda for WEF Davos 2015 • South Africa to showcase its success at Davos • South Africa’s education system critical to competitivenessShamin ChibbaBrand South Africa’s delegates to World Economic Forum Davos are taking with them a story that could attract foreign investment to our shores, a story that tells of a country that is bent on developing skills for its people and becoming one of the most technologically innovative among the world’s emerging economies.In the last few years, South Africa has taken great strides towards achieving what the National Development Plan set out: that by 2030 there should be close to full employment with the skills and culture of innovation needed to thrive.Most of these developments have taken place in the fields of mining and renewable energies, with space science catching up thanks to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Skills developmentIn his 2014 budget speech, the then finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, said he had allocated billions of rand towards programmes aimed at ending poverty, joblessness and inequality. One of those programmes involved ramping up skills development and further education and training.The government took a step towards achieving full employment when it launched the National Integrated Human Resource Development Plan in March 2014. Its goal is increasing the country’s skills base. According to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, the plan is designed to increase youth employment by matching education with the demands of the labour market.A number of tech hubs have also sprung up in Johannesburg and Cape Town that boost skills development, drive innovation and create new digital technology. These include JoziHub and Wits University’s Tshimologong Precinct in Johannesburg, and 88mph in Cape Town. Renewable energy The Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm takes advantage of the vast amount of wind energy the Eastern Cape produces. (Image: Shamin Chibba) With energy challenges front of mind, South Africa is bumping up its renewable energy sector. In August 2014, construction of the country’s first concentrated solar power tower was completed, and will bring with it a 50MW capacity that can light up almost 4 000 homes.The 140ha plant known as Khi Solar One, outside Upington in Northern Cape, is a project of Spanish company Abengoa Solar. Just as impressive is that it will reduce South Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 138 000 tons a year. Construction of Africa’s first concentrated solar power tower was completed in August last year outside Upington, Northern Cape. (Image: Shamin Chibba) Its sister project in Pofadder, KaXu Solar One, utilises a parabolic trough to generate 100MW of power, saving 315 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Other notable projects include the Kakamas Hydro Electric Power facility on the Orange River in the Northern Cape and the numerous wind farms that stretch from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape. Mining The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is designing a robot that can inspect mines for any dangers, therefore preventing serious injury or even death for mineworkers. (Image: Shamin Chibba) Robotic engineers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) are working on a robot that can save the lives of miners.Safety in mines is a concern in South Africa, which has vast mineral resources, and robots present the perfect solution, according to the senior researcher at the agency’s Mobile Intelligence Autonomous Systems (Mias), Natasha Govender. “When they blast in a mine, people can’t go inside until the air settles. So once it is cleared out, then somebody can go [in]. But they have to check if the hanging walls are safe. At the moment that process is done manually, and that can be very dangerous if the rocks are loose.”The Mias team has built a robot that can go into the mine after blasting and do these checks, thus cutting the very real risks for mine workers. Govender says Mias has relied on government funding since it started in 2009, receiving R15-million a year.In 2014, the CSIR was instrumental in another project that enhances communication in mines. It produced the AziSA system, which allows for timely communication underground. This provides support for decision-making in the often dangerous conditions, and reduces reliance on sometimes low-skilled workers.In April of the same year, a National Research Foundation centre of excellence was opened to give fresh direction to South Africa’s minerals and mining industry by guiding policy decisions, bringing more black people into high-level mining jobs, and ensuring smarter exploitation of the country’s cornucopia of underground resources. Space science The Square Kilometre Array is one of South Africa’s most ambitious projects. Shared with Australia, the project will study the stars for any activity that takes place. (Image: SKA Africa ) Most developments in space science in the country at present are centred on SKA, which is being built in the Karoo. SKA is a series of radio telescopes that will survey the sky for any activity. However, a lesser known project by the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) is also sending ripples through the world of space science. The space weather centre in Hermanus is a research programme Sansa set up to look at space weather in Africa.The agency explains that solar superstorms can seriously disrupt mobile phones, GPS systems, power grids, satellites, avionics and high-frequency radio communication, and pose huge risks to the world’s economy and society. Its space weather centre will be able to forecast these storms and help the nation avoid the risks they bring. Changing our mind-setSouth Africa may be on the right track when it comes to skills development and innovation but at least one observer thinks that the country lacks the mind-set needed to develop human capital. Chairman of Democracy Works Foundation William Gumede said in an op-ed for the Sunday Independent newspaper that a shift in our collective mind-set was needed if we were to attain real economic freedom.“Another shift in mind-set that is needed is to recognise that developing human capital – through genuinely and determinedly giving all citizens the best-quality education and training – is not only the greatest economic empowerment policy, but the greatest long-time economic growth accelerator and will give previously disadvantaged individuals real freedom to secure a better life.”South Africa had a large number of unemployed people who were unskilled, he added, urging the government and business to think practically when looking for solutions. In one scenario, he sought a pragmatic solution pertaining to both skills development and innovation.“The country has an energy crisis, but has an abundance of sunshine and wind. Pragmatism would determine that it would be better to develop new energy sectors, using solar, polar or wind energy, which are not only readily and cheaply available, but can soak up many of the unskilled.”According to research by Deloitte and Manufacturing Circle, South Africa does not consider talent-driven innovation as much of a competitiveness driver as the rest of the world does. And this, said the head of the Economic Development Facilitation unit in the city of Johannesburg, Tsholo Mogotsi, would keep South Africa behind the pack.Mogotsi expressed his concerns at a Brand South Africa seminar on international perceptions of South Africa held in April 2014. “Is this because there is something really special about manufacturing in South Africa that is different to what’s happening in the global environment? I think we’re missing something about innovation,” he pointed out.Support Team SA at Davos on social media by using the hashtag #SAinDavos.last_img read more

How to Autofocus Your DSLR in 3 Easy Steps

first_imgHave any tips/tricks/techniques for finding focus? Share in the comments below! Having trouble autofocusing your DSLR or mirrorless camera? These three simple steps should clear things up.Cover image via B&HOne of the earliest challenges many filmmakers and videographers face when they finally get their hands on a camera is setting focus. Luckily, for those shooting digital on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, it can be a pretty quick technique to master.Depending on the make and model of your camera (and if it isn’t from pre-internet days), it’s very likely to have a built-in autofocus function. The majority of your DSLR lenses will have this functionality and compatibility as well.Let’s use a Canon 5D as an example. Here are the three steps to setting auto-focus on your subject.Step 1: Set Lens to AF ModeThe only trick here is to find the AF-MF option on your camera lens. It’s usually on the lower left-hand side, but it should’t be too hard to locate. Once you find it, make sure it’s set to the AF mode (demonstrated in the image above).Step 2: Switch Camera to Live View Mode and Zoom in on SubjectOnce your lens is in AF-mode, you can switch your camera to the live view mode (if it isn’t already) and zoom in on your subject. You can move the focus point (the square in the middle of the screen) around with the multi-controller stick to the right.Step 3: Hold the AF-ON Button Until Camera Auto-FocusesOnce you’ve zoomed in on the point you’d like to focus on, you can switch over and push the AF-ON button to set your focus. Hold the button down long enough for the camera to find the focus. If you’re using Auto-White Balance (WB) and Auto-ISO, the camera will calculate and set those as well.You can see the whole process (along with some tips for manual focusing) in the following video by First Man Photography.last_img read more

NSW State Cup

first_imgThe State Cup will see teams from 53 affiliates across NSW contest 16 divisions, including the introduction of the Mixed B division.The three day tournament is in its 33rd year and 2009 is the 21st consecutive year that it has been played in Port Macquarie. All 23 fields at the precinct will be used for the 184 teams who have entered in the event. The following divisions will be contested at the event: two divisions in the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Open’s divisions, as well as Men’s and Women’s 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, Men’s 35’s, 45’s and 50’s and Senior Mixed. The introduction of the Mixed B division has proved popular, with 12 affiliates taking advantage of the new division. Among the most popular divisions also include the Men’s Open B Division, with 21 teams, while the Men’s 50’s division has 16 teams in the running for the title.Wests Magpies will be looking to go for back to back titles in the Men’s Open division, after their win over Hornsby in the 2008 grand final. Canterbury Bulldogs and Wests Magpies will be aiming to make it four consecutive titles in the Women’s and Mixed Open divisions respectively, having won their respective titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The round games will be contested on Friday and Saturday, before finals commence on Sunday at 8am. The first of the grand finals will be played at 12.40pm. The Women’s Open final will be played at 1.50pm, followed by the Dash for Cash at 2.30pm. The Men’s Open final will be played at 2.40pm, with the Mixed Open final to follow at 3.30pm.Stay tuned for the next edition of the Touch Footy Show, which includes a preview of the NSW State Cup. NBN and Port Macquarie News have already started their coverage of the event. To view their stories, please click on the following links:http://www.nbntv.com.au/index.php/2009/12/01/wests-hot-favourite-for-state-cup/http://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/state-cup-boasts-international-flavour/1695426.aspxhttp://www.portnews.com.au/news/local/sport/general/port-macquaries-state-cup-hopefuls/1695428.aspxFor more information, please visit the following websites: www.nswtouch.com.auhttp://www.sportingpulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?assoc=856&pID=14%20last_img read more

10 months agoLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: We’re ignoring Man City

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: We’re ignoring Man Cityby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is happy to be top of the table again after victory over Manchester United.Klopp insists he wasn’t bothered by Manchester City returning to the summit before Liverpool kicked off.He said, “We ignored it completely. I cannot say we passed [the test of winning after City won] because we didn’t think about it. I didn’t mention it one time. We are not silly, we know the table. Are you focused on it or not? I said it before, we played tonight Man United – and not against United and City. “That’s the only way I know and we really didn’t speak about it. I think that already helps. It’s not that they win and then we come together, train and say: ‘Did you see what City did?’ We are focused on our game and we will see where it leads us to. “If there is a moment in the end of the season when we’re still around them and we have to think about [them] and start hoping they drop points, maybe – I don’t know today. In the moment we respect them a lot, they respect us, and we have to win football games against all the others. Then we meet on January 3 again and then we think about City a lot.” last_img read more

17 days agoNakhi Wells keen on QPR stay

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Nakhi Wells keen on QPR stayby Paul Vegas17 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveNahki Wells would welcome a permanent switch to Queens Park Rangers.The Burnley striker has excelled during his second loan spell with West London, having scored seven goals this season.Asked about joining QPR permanently, Wells said: “That’s all stuff that’s beyond any of my decision-making of course.”But I think the club, the fans, the board – everyone knows what my decision would be.”I love it here, it feels like home to me.”Of course football is a business though and there’s a lot more that goes into it than just me saying I’d like to stay here.”But if it was possible I wouldn’t hesitate one bit.” last_img read more

MacGregor Shrinks Workforce amid Cost Saving Efforts

first_imgzoom MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has finalized the statutory cooperation negotiations regarding its planned cost saving measures.The negotiations resulted in restructuring of operations and reducing approximately 170 full-time equivalents globally, as the company seeks to achieve annual cost savings of EUR 13 million.The measures affect MacGregor operations in Norway, Germany, China, and Singapore. At the end of September 2017, the company employed globally 1,876 persons.MacGregor’s plans also included the split of Smart Ocean Technology division into Cargo Handling division and Advanced Offshore Solutions division.With these savings, MacGregor seeks synergies by reorganising both the offshore and merchant shipping operations and continues improving operational efficiency and customer centricity.As announced earlier, the planned savings are estimated to be reached in 2018. They will result in restructuring costs of around EUR 7 million in the final quarter of 2017.“These measures enable us to strengthen our leading position in the future maritime cargo flow, offshore mooring and load handling markets and to develop the company to be the leader in smart cargo and load handling. We continue to invest in serving our customers globally, and especially in the key developing maritime countries,” Michel van Roozendaal, President of MacGregor, said.last_img read more

Construction firm accuses province of botching build of Grande Prairie hospital

first_imgEDMONTON – The construction firm fighting with the Alberta government over the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital says the province has crippled the project with slapdash planning, poor budgeting and bad faith negotiations.In a statement, Graham Construction said Alberta Infrastructure has been ordering so many design changes that completed work has had to be torn down.“Until the scope changes stop, and sufficient budget is provided, no construction manager can properly establish a final cost or properly plan and complete the project,” said Graham.The company sent the statement in response to a demand issued Monday by Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen on the $763-million hospital.Jansen said the Calgary-based firm is on track to miss the completion deadline at the end of this year, and has asked the province for an extra $120 million with no justifiable reason.She has given Graham until Aug. 22 to deliver a plan to get the project back on schedule or see its $510-million contract cancelled.But Graham, in its statement, said it had previously warned the province that the hospital couldn’t be done under the current budget given the design changes.It said that since December 2016 the project has experienced more than 600 change orders and more than 400 design clarifications. There were 63 design changes and 34 new scope clarifications in June 2018 alone, it said.“Many changes required demolition of completed work to accommodate the new scope, affecting project cost and schedule,” said Graham.Graham said it has been trying to work with Jansen’s office in recent months only to see meetings cancelled and not rescheduled.It said Jansen’s claim of a request for an extra $120 million is false.Graham said it had warned the project could be up to $85 million short and, at the request of Jansen’s office, put in a recent estimate to complete the project that included a $35-million contingency fund — two figures that would equal the $120-million ask.Jansen disputed Graham Construction’s allegations and called the tone of the news release “unfortunate.”She said the province and Graham renegotiated the hospital deal in December 2016, and last month’s $120 million ask was a trigger for the dispute.“On July 24, we received a request in writing for an additional $120 million over and above the existing $510-million agreement without any documentation explaining the request,” Jansen told reporters on a conference call Thursday.“That is really part of the reason that we issued the notice of default on Monday.”Jansen didn’t take issue with the number of changes, but said such amendments are not unusual for a large project and none would have affected the bottom line or the timeline.She dismissed the accusation her office is avoiding meetings, saying they continue to conference regularly at multiple levels.She said she still hoped to get a workable plan from Graham by her Aug. 22 deadline.The shell and roof of the hospital have been completed, along with insulation and windows. Construction on the inside is 70 per cent done.last_img read more

Rates of syphilis increase in Alberta

first_imgSouth Zone: 31 cases, an increase of 138.5 percent compared to 2017Calgary Zone: 206 cases, an increase of 7.3 percent compared to 2017Central Zone: 88 cases, an increase of 266.7 percent compared to 2017Edmonton Zone: 977 cases, an increase of 305.4 percent compared to 2017North Zone: 208 cases, an increase of 324.5 percent compared to 2017 In 2018, a total of 1,536 cases of infectious syphilis were reported compared to 161 in 2014, almost a tenfold increase. The government shares this rate of infectious syphilis has not been this high in Alberta since 1948.While congenital syphilis cases were rare before the outbreak, There were 22 congenital syphilis cases between 2014 and 2018, one of which was stillborn. Congenital syphilis, which occurs when a child is born to a mother with syphilis, is a severe, disabling and life-threatening disease.Consistent and correct condom use is an important protection against STIs such as syphilis.As with other STIs, the symptoms of syphilis may not be obvious.Health experts recommend sexually active people, regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation, get tested every three to six months if they:have a sexual partner with a known STIhave a new sexual partner or multiple or anonymous sexual partnershave a previous history of an STI diagnosishave been sexually assaultedIt is critical that anyone who is pregnant seeks early prenatal care and testing for syphilis during pregnancy.Anyone experiencing STI-related symptoms should seek testing and speak to a family doctor to find testing and treatment options.In the 2018 case counts for infectious syphilis by AHS zone: EDMONTON, AB – Infectious and congenital syphilis rates have escalated across the province over the past five years, with a sharp increase in 2018.Due to the rapid increase in syphilis cases, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has declared a provincial outbreak and is encouraging Albertans to get tested and protect themselves.“We need to emphasize for all Albertans: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone who is sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection. I encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly. Anyone in Alberta can access STI testing and treatment for free,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health.last_img read more

Indian women lose second T20, series to England

first_imgGuwahati: The Indian women’s cricket team suffered a five-wicket defeat to England in the second T20 International, surrendering the series with a sixth straight loss in the shortest format. Chasing 112 for an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, England completed the task in 19.1 overs, holding nerves after losing a few quick wickets. Opener Danielle Wyatt was Engalnd’s star performer with the bat, top-scoring with an unbeaten 64 off 55 balls. During her stay in the middle, Wyatt struck six boundaries, and was ably supported by Lauren Winfield (29). Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football togetherWhile Wyatt held one end firm on the way to her fourth T20 half- century, England needed three back-to-back boundaries by Winfield to take the game away from India. Opting to bowl, England produced a brilliant performance to prevent the hosts from putting up a big score at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, with Katherine Brunt emerging as the most successful bowler. The veteran seamer returned figures of 3/17, sending back stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana (12) and Jemimah Rodrigues to put India on the backfoot. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenThe wicket of Mandhana was important for England as the opener had powered India to 24 for no loss in 2.3 overs before Brunt had her caught behind. Coming in to bat at one drop, the young Rodrigues (2) did not last long, getting bowled by Brunt. In the next over, the dismissal of Harleen Deol by left-arm spinner Linsey Smith (2/11) left the hosts in a spot of bother at 34 for three. The experienced Mithali Raj, in the last leg of her career, top-scored with 20 off 27 balls, while Deepti Sharma and Bharati Fulmali contributed 18 each. England were off to a steady start but slow left-armer Radha Yadav did not let the opening partnership flourish, disturbing Tammy Beaumont’s stumps in the fifth over. Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav had Amy Jones caught and bowled in a soft dismissal and Ekta Bisht picked up two wickets, including the big one of skipper Heather Knight, to leave the visitors in trouble at 56 for four. But Wyatt and Winfield saw England through with their 47-run partnership for the fifth wicket. India bowled tightly and conceded just three extras in comparison to England’s 18. England won the first match by 41 runs.last_img read more