News Center

Do We Owe Our Sense of Smell to Epigenetics?

Olfactory sensory neurons – nerve cells in the nose – directly sense molecules that convey scent, then send the signals to the brain. Biologists have long wondered how it’s possible for each nerve cell to be equipped with only one kind of olfactory receptor (OR). There are over a thousand different kinds of OR genes

Genome-wide Atlas of Gene Enhancers in the Brain On-line

Berkeley Lab researchers have unveiled a first-of-its-kind atlas of gene-enhancers in the brain that should greatly benefit future research into the underlying causes of neurological disorders such as autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

New Key to Organism Complexity Identified

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers have discovered that the transcription factor protein TFIID co-exists in two distinct structural states, a key to genetic expression and TFIID’s ability to initiate the process by which DNA is copied into RNA.

A Welcome Predictability

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed an “adaptor” that makes the genetic engineering of microbial components substantially easier and more predictable.


Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) researchers have developed computer assisted design (CAD)-type tools for engineering RNA components to control genetic expression in microbes. This holds enormous potential for microbial-based production of advanced biofuels, biodegradable plastics, therapeutic drugs and a host of other goods now derived from petrochemicals.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Create First of Its Kind Gene Map of Sulfate-reducing Bacterium:

Critical genetic secrets of a bacterium that holds potential for removing toxic and radioactive waste from the environment have been revealed in a study led by Berkeley Lab researchers. The researchers have created a first-of-its-kind gene map of Desulfovibrio vulgaris, which can be used to identify the genes that determine how these bacteria interact with their surrounding environment.

Genome-scale Network of Rice Genes to Speed the Development of Biofuel Crops

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed the first genome-scale model for predicting the functions of genes and gene networks in a grass species. Called RiceNet, this systems-level model of rice gene interactions should help speed the development of new crops for the production of advanced biofuels, as well as help boost the production and improve the quality of one of the world’s most important food staples.

How Key Genes Cooperate to Make Healthy Skin

An essential relationship among leading genes and proteins that control the health of the skin has been revealed by a multinational research team. The protein p63 is the “master regulator” for skin’s uppermost layers, the epidermis. It does much of its work by directly controlling the chromatin-remodeling protein Satb1, discovered at Berkeley Lab over a decade ago and already known for critical roles in the immune system and aggressive breast cancer.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Win Four Early Career Awards

Berkeley Lab researchers have won four DOE Office of Science Early Career Research Program awards, in the second year of the planned annual award program. The five-year, $2.5 million awards are intended to support young scientists in the formative stages of their careers. The winners were chosen from over a thousand applicants by outside scientific experts.

Safeguarding Genome Integrity Through Extraordinary DNA Repair

Once called “junk DNA” because it contains numerous repeated short sequences that don’t code for proteins, heterochromatin is in fact vital for normal growth and function. Yet it poses special challenges to accurate DNA repair. Berkeley Lab life scientists have discovered an unsuspected and dramatic process by which double-strand breaks in heterochromatin are repaired in dynamic stages.