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Gustavo Caetano-Anolles

Protein ‘big bang’ reveals molecular makeup for medicine and bioengineering

June 30, 2021

Proteins have been quietly taking over our lives since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We’ve been living at the whim of the virus’s so-called “spike” protein, which has mutated dozens of times to create increasingly deadly variants. But the truth is, we have always been ruled by proteins. At the cellular level, they’re responsible for pretty much everything.


June 30, 2021


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Global analysis suggests COVID-19 is seasonal

January 26, 2021

With cities around the globe locking down yet again amid soaring COVID-19 numbers, could seasonality be partially to blame? New research from the University of Illinois says yes.

In a paper published in Evolutionary Bioinformatics, Illinois researchers show COVID-19 cases and mortality rates, among other epidemiological metrics, are significantly correlated with temperature and latitude across 221 countries.


January 26, 2021


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Illinois study tracks evolution of SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations

October 28, 2020

Since COVID-19 began its menacing march across Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and then across the world, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has taken a “whatever works” strategy to ensure its replication and spread. But in a new study published in Evolutionary Bioinformatics, University of Illinois researchers and students show the virus is honing the tactics that may make it more successful and more stable.


October 28, 2020


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Illinois study tracks evolution of SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations

August 28, 2020

Since COVID-19 began its menacing march across Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and then across the world, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has taken a “whatever works” strategy to ensure its replication and spread. But in a new study undergoing peer review, University of Illinois researchers and students show the virus is honing the tactics that may make it more successful and more stable.


August 28, 2020


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Study tracks evolutionary history of metabolic networks

October 28, 2019

By analyzing how metabolic enzymes are built and organized, researchers have reconstructed the evolutionary history of metabolism. Their study shows how metabolic networks – which drive every cellular process from protein building to DNA repair – became less random, more modular and more hierarchical over time, the researchers say.

Their study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shines a light on the patchwork process that allowed cells to shape the metabolic pathways into what they are today, the researchers report. 


October 28, 2019


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Microbes in human body swap genes, even across tissue boundaries

April 16, 2019

Bacteria in the human body are sharing genes with one another at a higher rate than is typically seen in nature, and some of those genes appear to be traveling – independent of their microbial hosts – from one part of the body to another, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.


April 16, 2019


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Illinois study provides whole-system view of plant cold stress

October 29, 2018

When temperatures drop, plants can’t bundle up. Stuck outside, exposed, plants instead undergo a series of biochemical changes that protect cells from damage. Scientists have described these changes and identified some of the genes controlling them, but it’s not clear how all the processes work together. Lacking this global view, plant breeders have struggled to engineer cold-tolerant crops.


October 29, 2018


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Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life

December 7, 2017

A new study finds that viruses share some genes exclusively with cells that are not their hosts. The study, reported in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, adds to the evidence that viruses swap genes with a variety of cellular organisms and are agents of diversity, researchers say.

The study looked at protein structures in viruses and across all superkingdoms, or domains, of life: from the single-celled microbes known as bacteria and archaea, to eukaryotes, a group that includes animals, plants, fungi and all other living things.


December 7, 2017


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Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

September 28, 2015

A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today, the researchers say.

The new findings appear in the journal Science Advances.


September 28, 2015


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