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

BMW begins new 3 Series production

first_img23 February 2012BMW South Africa has commenced production of the new 3 Series sedan in the country, following the completion of a R2.2-billion upgrade of its plant in Rosslyn outside Pretoria.The company also plans to introduce a third shift by the end of the year, creating 600 new jobs and significantly increasing production capacity to over 90 000 units per year.The increase in the plant’s production capacity will enable the company to more than double BMW 3 Series exports from South Africa.“The BMW 3 Series is the most important volume-produced model by the BMW Group as well as the biggest-selling model in the entire premium segment,” BMW AG board member Frank-Peter Arndt said at an event to commemorate the official start of production in Rosslyn on Monday.“At the same time, every generation of the 3 Series sedan has been built in Rosslyn and, since 1999, this plant has been responsible for production for important export markets such as the USA, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Australasia to name but a few.”New era of innovation, passion, commitmentHe explained that the decision to invest in the plant during the peak of global economic crisis in 2009 not only safeguarded around 2 500 jobs, but would also lead to significant increases in production, exports and employment in the years to come.“In 1973, Plant Rosslyn became the first BMW production facility to be established outside of Germany,” he said. “So it is fitting that, almost 40 years later, production of this new model signals the beginning of a new era of innovation, passion and commitment for the BMW Group in South Africa.“Even though the global economic outlook remains uncertain, we remain true to our commitment to this production location.”New, advanced robot facilitiesFor the production of the BMW 3 Series, the old, low-rise body shop had to be completely refurbished to make way for a completely new Body-in-White facility.At the same time, numerous new robots were installed taking the total number of robots from 99 with the previous vehicle to 149 with the new car. In addition, latest-generation laser robots and advanced bonding robots are being used.In the paintshop, new robot facilities have also been installed for seam sealing, flange sealing and undersealing. There is also a new foaming machine for firewall sound insulation. This feeds the sound-insulating material into the cavity, where it is foamed.In the assembly shop, meanwhile, standardised modular product and process architectures ensure high productivity and variability.Cleaner, greener manufacturing processWith the new 3 Series, BMW has succeeded in implementing production processes that dramatically reduce non-recyclable waste and the generation of solid waste, wastewater and emissions, as well as cutting noise and vibration to a minimum.In the last five years alone, the Rosslyn plant has reduced resources utilised in production considerably. The production process now uses 25% less energy, 50% less water and has 50% less wastage, all while producing 25% less carbon emissions per car produced.When combined with the energy reductions made at the BMW Group’s South African head-office in Midrand, this amounts to more than R50-million in energy savings since 2006.Using renewable energyHowever, the company believes it can still do more and has investigated the technical and economic feasibility of supplying the Rosslyn plant solely by means of renewable energy, or in combination with the existing power supply.Following the outcomes of this investigation, the BMW Group announced late last year that it will partner with the City of Tshwane on a waste-to-energy project.Methane gas – converted from unusable organic waste at a landfill site in Onderstepoort – will be piped approximately 8km to BMW Plant Rosslyn.Depending on the quantity supplied, the gas will be used to either produce electricity via gas generators or supplement the usage of natural gas in the production process, a resource which contributes approximately 50% to the company’s energy consumption.The project is similar to a landfill gas programme which is responsible for providing the BMW Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, USA with around half of its energy requirements.Initial indications are that there is enough green waste at the site to cater for approximately 40% of the Rosslyn plant’s gas requirements.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Markets have plenty to consider heading into November report

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Doug Tenney, Leist MercantileU.S. corn exports continue an alarming trend for reduction this fall. With two months into the September to August marketing year, weekly export inspections with the Monday 11 a.m. ET USDA report have seen numerous weeks of disappointing numbers. Many of those weeks saw corn exports at or below the low end of trader expectations. Typically, weekly corn export loadings have outpaced those of soybeans. However, this has not been the case for much of the summer and fall. At the end of October, corn exports were running 60% behind compared to USDA projecting an 8% drop for the year. Corn exports for 2019-2020 were lowered 150 million bushels with the October report. Since May, USDA projections for corn exports have dropped 375 million bushels for a 16% decline. Strong export competition and higher production from Brazil and Argentina has played a major role in the corn export decline.The Nov. 8 WASDE Report is just around the corner. Supply bulls are hoping for reduced corn production, bringing down ending stocks. Some are suggesting the U.S. corn yield would need to decline three to five bushels per acre for December 2019 CBOT corn to climb above the $4 mark. The October WASDE Report pegged the U.S. corn yield at 168.4 — a tiny increase from September. The trade had been expecting a small decline.Don’t be surprised if this November WASDE Report shows little change in the U.S. corn and soybean yields. While both corn and soybean harvest this fall have lagged behind historical progress, corn especially is behind normal. Maturity levels in the Upper Midwest continue to be behind normal as well. The Dakotas already had a blizzard the second weekend of October. Another snow event the last week of October reached Iowa, Minnesota, and northern Illinois. The Monday 4 p.m. weekly crop progress report for Oct. 28 had the corn harvest at just 41% while the average was 61%. Soybean harvest reached 62% with the average of 78%. Bottom line, many hundreds of millions of bushels of corn and soybean production continue to be at risk with the lagging harvest progress.If you are tired of hearing about the on again, off again progress of the U.S./China trade talks you’d best grab a snack, pillow, and blanket as they are far from concluded. Much of October was about reaching agreement on Phase 1 of a partial trade deal, which potentially would be signed by the presidents of the U.S. and China in mid-November in Chile. It seems the talks themselves are not the only thread being woven into the blanket called a “trade deal.” Late last month Chile removed itself from hosting the APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Conference. These meetings were to focus on the digital economy, regional connectivity, and women’s role in economic growth. This summit was cancelled on Oct. 30 due to ongoing protests. With that cancellation. even if a trade deal is reached, the signing could not take place. In the following days, the U.S. offered Iowa as a signing location for Phase 1. Remember that Phase 1 is still incomplete — no deal yet at this writing. In September, China cancelled farm visits to Nebraska and Montana which were meant to be part of a goodwill tour. The Iowa invitation could likely be unacceptable due to China’s concerns of security and other factors.Look for U.S. yields to still be unclear and up in the air in spite of the Nov. 8 reports. This means 2019 yields will not be finalized until Jan. 10, 2020.last_img read more

Knight Foundation Awards $2.74M to 2010 News Challenge Winners

first_imgchris cameron Tags:#Multimedia#New Media#web Related Posts Wednesday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the winners of its annual Knight News Challenge, a contest funding innovative ideas for disseminating news and information to local communities with digital technologies. 12 entrants were awarded a grand total of $2.74 million, the largest share, $400k, going to Eric Rodenbeck and his data visualization project CityTracking. “We can use the Knight News Challenge to experiment with ways to learn how to think in different ways about information sharing so we might discover the future of news.”– Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation President.Rodenbeck, a San Francisco-based designer and entrepreneur, hopes his project will ease the process of creating captivating visualizations of municipal data for local journalists and bloggers. “CityTracking will allow users to create embeddable data visualizations that are appealing enough to spread virally and that are as easy to share as photos and videos,” says the Knight Foundation description.Data visualization initiatives fared well at this year’s challenge, as a second entry, Tilemapping, was granted $74,000 from the foundation. Other popular categories included projects aimed at finding new ways to engage readers, as well as those geared toward determining new methods for funding journalism at the local level (see video below). The foundation hopes that by funding these ideas they will help spur innovation and aid digital journalism take its first strides in the Internet age.“The free flow of shared information is essential for communities to function in a democracy. More each day, that information flows through and because of digital technology,” said Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen. “Until someone figures out the next big thing […] we can use the Knight News Challenge to experiment with ways to learn how to think in different ways about information sharing so we might discover the future of news.” The announcement of this year’s winners was made at the Future of News and Civic Media conference at MIT – an event featuring previous challenge winners. Since beginning four years ago, the challenge has received over 10,000 applications and has doled out $23 million to 50 winning projects. Possibly the most well known past Knight News Challenge winner is Spot.us – a platform for community funded journalism.center_img 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more