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Biologists create a mutant fly with 140 million year old genes

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The work, described in the journal eLife, was achieved using cutting-edge gene insertion techniques to replace a particular modern day protein with ancestral proteins in a living fly. The purpose was to test whether it could create functions which had long since been absent. The scientists discovered that two mutations millions of years ago altered the function of a developmental gene, which regulates development of the fruit fly’s head. This chance mutation has since become an indispensable aspect of modern fruit flies. Fly embryos without the modern day Bicoid protein die very early since they form tail structures at both ends of their body, rather than forming a head.



“Ancestral changes in protein sequences are thought to be responsible for the evolution of diverse animal forms, but finding which historical changes were most critical has eluded scientists until very recently,” Stephen Small, an NYU biologist, told Digital Trends. “The ancestral protein’s function was to bind to a specific set of DNA sequences, and turn on a set of target genes based on that sequence. By comparing the ancestral protein sequence with its modern day descendants, the research team identified two specific amino acid changes that allowed the modern day protein to bind to a completely different set of DNA sequences, compared to the ancestral protein. [The work] further showed that these changes allowed the [modern] protein to activate a novel set of target genes in the developing embryo and acquire a central role in the embryogenesis of a subset of insect species.”

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The two amino acid changes identified by the researchers endow the ancestral protein with some of Bicoid’s modern day activities. However, there are still questions to be answered. Specifically, the researchers want to know which changes occurred to evolve a fully functional Bicoid protein. “We are currently extending our studies to identify all the sequences changes that led to the evolution of the modern day protein,” Small said.

No, we’re not going to see 140-million-year-old flies buzzing around any time soon. But between this work and Harvard University’s work to bring back the woolly mammoth through cloning, this is sure an exciting time in our history. Better yet, make that pre-history!

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Martin O’Neill, Roy Keane part ways with Republic of Ireland team.

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Manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane have parted company with the Republic of Ireland.




The pair took over the reins in 2013 and guided the Republic to the last 16 of the 2016 European Championships.

However, they did not win a competitive game in 2018 and were relegated from Uefa Nations League Group B4.

“I thank Martin, Roy, and the management team for the impact they had,” said Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief John Delaney.

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“There have been many highlights during Martin’s reign – none more so than Euro 2016 in France, which will live long in the memory of all Irish supporters.”

O’Neill, who leaves alongside his backroom team of Keane, Steve Guppy and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh, signed a contract extension in January to remain as manager until 2020.

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Uganda: Rakai District councilor apprehended for defiling 13-year-old girl

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Police in Rakai District have arrested a councilor representing one of the Sub Counties to Rakai District council on allegations of defiling a 13-year-old girl.



According to the girl’s aunt, the girl who was a day scholar at Buyamba Senior Secondary School in Rakai District, did not return home on Friday last week and was discovered by police in one of the trading centres on Monday this week.
“We started looking for this girl on Friday evening and reported the matter to Police. We were so bothered until Police contacted us on Monday that they had got her in the trading centre,” the aunt said.

It is reported that the girl spent three days with the councilor in one of the lodges in the trading centre until Police found them on Monday.

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The councilor has been on the education committee at Rakai District local council since 2016. 
“I can’t believe a leader whom our children could emulate is the one behaving this way. I pray authorities do their work without fear or favour so that we get the right judgment,” the girl’s father said.

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Dr Herbert Kalema, a medical lab officer at Masaka referral hospital said the results from the tests confirmed that the girl had been defiled and was yet to release results of HIV tests as at the time of filing the report.

Mr Grace Mutono, the Kyotera District Police Commander confirmed the councilor’s arrest, saying they have already commenced investigating the matter.

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