Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Glossary

​​Antibodies
Proteins secreted by B cells in response to pathogens. Up to 10 billion different antibodies can be generated by the body, which stick specifically to foreign materials including pathogens and help other immune cells neutralise or destroy them.

Antibody Repertoire
The entire set of antibodies produced in an individual.

Autophagy
A pathway by which cells engulf and digest unnecessary cellular components, allowing them to be reused by the cell for energy in times of nutritional scarcity.

B Cells / B Lymphocytes
Types of cells that provide a specialised response to infection by identifying specific pathogens and initiating a series of changes in gene expression that result in the production of antibodies.

Blastocyst
A structure formed in the early development of mammals. It possesses an inner cell mass which forms the embryo.

BRAF
A human gene that makes a protein called B-Raf. The B-Raf protein is an enzyme involved in sending signals inside cells, which are involved in directing cell division.

BRAF Inhibitor
A class of specific chemicals that inhibit the activity of the B-Raf enzyme.

BRAF Mutant
The result of a faulty (mutated) BRAF protein, found in some human cancers.

Chromatin
A complex of nucleic acids and proteins that forms the chromosomes. Chromatin allows the DNA to be folded and packaged into the confined space of the nucleus, as well as playing an important role in controlling gene expression.

Chromosome
A single piece of coiled DNA found in the nucleus of the cell.

Cruciferous Vegetables
A class of vegetables, rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, being raised for food production. Examples include cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leaf vegetables.

Embryo
An organism in the early stages of development.

Epigenetic
Referring to reversible chemical modifications to DNA that promote changes in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence.

Epigenetic Rejuvenation
The concept that a mature tissue cell can be reprogrammed back to being a stem cell. This process could be used in clinical applications. For example, old and damaged liver cells could be rejuvenated and returned to a patient to heal the impaired organ.

Epithelial Barrier
Epithelial tissues make up the surface of the body, as well as lining the organs and glands.

Epigenome
The group of modifications that can occur in our genome that will not change the sequence of the bases in the DNA but can change the DNA conformation and as a consequence change the expression of genes.

Gene Expression
The process by which information encoded by the DNA (genes) is turned into a functional protein.

Genome
The complete set of genes in an organism.

Germ Cell
A cell that gives rise to sperm or eggs in a mammal.

GIMAPs
A family of cell signalling molecules that may play a part in the maintenance of lymphocyte populations.

Histones
Proteins found in cell nuclei that package and order the DNA into structural units called nucleosomes

Lipids
Fats that play numerous roles including as a fuel source, providing structural support or in mediating signalling.

Lymphocytes
White blood cells important for protecting the body from disease by mediating immune responses and harbouring a memory of prior infections.

Immunology
A branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms.

Lipidome
The record of all the lipids in a cell.

MEK 1/2 Inhibitor
A drug (small chemical) that blocks the activity of the MEK1 and MEK2 enzymes; an example is the drug selumetinib.

Melanoma
A type of skin cancer.

Methylation
A type of DNA modification describing the addition of chemical (methyl) groups to DNA nucleotides, particularly cytosine residues. The effect of this modification is to alter the expression of genes.

Methylome
The set of nucleic acid methylation modifications in an organism's genome or in a particular cell

Microorganisms
Organisms too small to be seen by the naked eye, such as bacteria or viruses.

mTOR
A protein that plays a central role in regulating numerous cellular processes including growth, proliferation, survival and protein synthesis.

Neurons
Nerve cells which carry information within the brain and between the brain and other parts of the body.

Neutrophils
White blood cells that provide a rapid response to infection. They recognise signals emitted from the site of infection, travel to that area and destroy the pathogen; firstly engulfing it, then releasing toxic chemicals to digest it.

Pathogen
A biological agent which causes infection in its host.

PI3-kinases
A family of enzymes that are critical for a number of cellular functions such as movement, growth and survival.

Regenerative Medicine
The ability to replace damaged or diseased tissue, either by transplanting cells from another part of the body or by stimulating repair of the impaired cells.

Reprogramming
The removal and remodeling of epigenetic marks during early mammalian development.

RNA
A nucleic acid molecule that plays multiple roles in the cell, including transferring information from the DNA into proteins and regulating gene expression.

Signalling Pathway
The means of communicating between and within cells using a group of molecules that work together to control cellular functions.

Signal Transduction
This occurs when a signalling molecule outside a cell activates a specific receptor located on the cell surface or inside the cell

Stem Cells
Cells with the unique ability to give rise to all cell types in the body.

Systems Biology
An experimental and theoretical holistic approach to studying biological systems, involving the integration of multiple complex datasets.

Transcription
The first step of gene expression, in which a particular segment of DNA is copied into RNA by the enzyme RNA polymerase.

Trophoblast
The outer layer of the blastocyst, which gives rise to the placenta

Zygote
​The cell formed when two gametes fuse.

Page: Notes