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Ancient Rubiscos, Resurrected

Proteins from Nightshade plants were expressed in E. coli, and could fix carbon dioxide faster than modern Rubisco.

Ancient Rubiscos

Rubisco sucks. This protein behemoth takes carbon dioxide from the air and fixes it into sugar between 2 and 5 times per second. That’s excruciatingly slow. Rubisco often mistakes carbon dioxide for regular oxygen because it evolved 2.4 billion years ago, before the earth became laden with oxygen and mammals grew to fifty feet tall. It evolved on a carbon-rich planet.

On Metchnikoff

Ilya Metchnikoff discovered phagocytosis, and phagocytes, in 1882. He coined the term gerontology in 1903. He pushed people to eat yogurt, rich in Lactobacillus, to prolong lifespans and keep a healthy gut (and was widely panned by the media for it). He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Paul Ehrlich, in 1908. The father of immunology, the standard-bearer for the notion that the gut is teeming with life, Metchnikoff pioneered the idea that the gut’s health underlies the body’s health.

Holy Grail

Reverting a somatic cell back to its pluripotent state is usually done by bombarding it with transcription factor proteins that go into each cell’s nucleus and switch on specific genes. Doing the same, but with chemicals, is far more difficult.



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