Sprague Word

The future and more from Richard Sprague

Posted by sprague on September 1, 2003

8/31 Tillman Gerngross of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire has a way to make human proteins in yeast.

8/27: New Scientist 8/27/03

A specific gene linked to athletic performance has been discovered by Australian sports scientists. The announcement comes as elite athletes vie for glory at the World Athletics Championships in Paris, and reopens the debate about whether top athletes can be screened and nurtured from birth.

The gene comes in two variants. People with one variant are predisposed to become sprinters. Those with the second are more likely to excel in endurance events. This is the second gene to be shown to confer athletic ability. The first, angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, makes an enzyme which influences how efficiently our muscles burn oxygen, and the rate at which some muscles grow (New Scientist print edition, 23 May 1998).

The gene discovered by the Australian team is called alpha-actinin-3, or ACTN3. One version, the R allele, makes actinin, a protein found only in fast muscle fibres. These fibres help to produce the explosive bursts of speed and power that sprinters need. The other allele, called X, does not produce actinin-3.


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