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Cambridge, United Kingdom

Booth M.J.,University of Cambridge | Booth M.J.,University of Oxford | Raiber E.-A.,University of Cambridge | Balasubramanian S.,University of Cambridge | Balasubramanian S.,Cambridge Institute
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2015

The decoding of DNA falls within the general scope of chemical structure elucidation and has been naturally enabled by the creation and application of chemical approaches. Decoding the sequence of the four canonical DNA bases was first made widely accessible in the late 1970s with two independent chemical approaches from Maxam and Gilbert and from Sanger. It is now possible to decode 5mC, 5hmC, 5fC, and 5caC in addition to G, C, A, and T in DNA at single base resolution. One approach for the single molecule sequencing of modified bases is to exploit the pausing of a polymerase due to the presence of chemical tags; this has been demonstrated for the detection of 5hmC in single-molecule real-time sequencing (SMRT). SMRT DNA sequencing is a single molecule sequencing technology, whereby the continuous incorporation of phospholinked nucleotides by a DNA polymerase is detected as fluorescent pulses. This method represents the first example of a single molecule sequencing method being employed to detect 5hmC at single base resolution.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) found short-term deviations in climate change could decrease global investments by as much as 45 percent. The study analyzed short-term risks that come from how investors respond to climate change-related news. Findings showed portfolio reallocation can save half of the perceived loss. Investors cannot cushion the blow of the other "unhedgeable" portfolio loss unless a drastic climate change solution takes place. "This new research indicates that no investor is immune from the risks posed by climate change, even in the short run," said Jake Reynolds, Sustainable Economy director of CISL. Researchers used three scenarios to analyze short-term impacts of climate change. In both two degrees and no mitigation scenarios, findings showed short-term climate change sentiment can impact reduction in the global economic growth in the span of five to 10 years as part of the economic adjustment outcome. As for long-term impacts, researchers found that the global economy will grow much fast in the two degrees scenario (3.5 percent annually), exceeding both baseline (2.9 percent annually) and no mitigation (2 percent annually) scenarios. Researchers found the awareness of potential climate risks could reduce global investment earnings by 45 percent and fixed income earnings by 23 percent. About 53 percent of the perceived loss can be avoided through investment reallocations but the 47 percent is deemed unavoidable. "One of the key findings (from the modelling) is that it reveals the potential for very significant, short-term financial impacts for investors whereas previously, I think, a lot of the analysis had pointed to the longer term, multi-decadal impacts," said Andrew Voysey, CISL's Finance Sector director. The Cambridge researchers published their findings online in the CISL site.

Le D.D.,University of Cambridge | Di Antonio M.,University of Cambridge | Di Antonio M.,Cambridge Institute | Chan L.K.M.,University of Cambridge | And 2 more authors.
Chemical Communications | Year: 2015

A rapid and simple equilibrium-binding assay mediated by ligand-induced fluorescence quenching of fluorophore-labelled G-quadruplex (G4) structures enabled quantitative interrogation of mutually exclusive ligand binding interactions at opposed G-tetrads. This technique revealed that the ligands TmPyP4, PhenDC3, and PDS have differential chemotype-specific binding preferences for individual G-tetrads of a model genomic G4 structure. © 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Wu L.,University of Cambridge | Murat P.,University of Cambridge | Matak-Vinkovic D.,University of Cambridge | Murrell A.,Cambridge Institute | And 2 more authors.
Biochemistry | Year: 2013

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play a key role in the epigenetic regulation of cells. Many of these lncRNAs function by interacting with histone repressive proteins of the Polycomb group (PcG) family, recruiting them to gene loci to facilitate silencing. Although there are now many RNAs known to interact with the PRC2 complex, little is known about the details of the molecular interactions. Here, we show that the PcG protein heterodimer EZH2-EED is necessary and sufficient for binding to the lncRNA HOTAIR. We also show that protein recognition occurs within a folded 89-mer domain of HOTAIR. This 89-mer represents a minimal binding motif, as further deletion of nucleotides results in substantial loss of affinity for PRC2. These findings provide molecular insights into an important system involved in epigenetic regulation. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

And yet, with a U.N. climate summit in Paris set to promote a switch to a low-carbon economy, data from the U.N. body urging investors and asset managers to give more weight to non-financial considerations, including the environment, shows a patchy response, at best. The U.N.-backed initiative, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), encourages asset managers worldwide to commit, among other things, to factor Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into their investment decision-making. The initiative seeks to acknowledge the growing long-term influence on asset values of 'non-financial' factors such as carbon emissions, the gender make-up of the board or the rigor of policies on bribery, safety or low pay. A Reuters analysis of PRI data shows that, by Sept. 21 this year, 657 asset managers had been signed up to PRI for more than a year, and therefore published an annual report. PRI comprises a series of basic compulsory measures and more advanced voluntary measures, and the reports give an insight into how prepared the managers are to handle the type of investment challenges that could be presented by the Paris meeting. The voluntary commitments include three that particularly highlight how thoroughly ESG criteria are being applied: showing how ESG processes have influenced portfolio construction; showing how investing using ESG has improved financial or ESG performance and reduced risk; and showing how ESG has affected the firm's investment view or performance. Of the 350 equity- or bond-focused firms that Reuters examined in detail who published PRI reports, only 83 said they had met all three of these commitments. A further 195 firms with combined assets of roughly $28 trillion failed to meet at least one of the measures, while 72 firms with combined assets of just over $11 trillion met none of them. Among that last group were JPMorgan Asset Management (JPM.N), which manages $1.7 trillion; Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN.L), which manages $490 billion; and UBS Global Asset Management UBSN.VX, which manages $652 billion. Both JPMorgan and UBS declined to comment, while Aberdeen said it was in the process of enhancing its ESG activity and would meet the objectives next year. Examples of companies whose value has suffered because of failings in areas covered by ESG include oil company BP (BP.L), which saw its share price slide after it was forced to pay out billions of dollars after an oil spill that was ultimately down to poor business practice, as well as Volkswagen (VOWG.DE). Meanwhile, if the Paris conference can produce pledges to limit greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to keep a global temperature rise below a U.N. ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), equities and infrastructure in emerging markets are one sector likely to get a boost, a report by consultants Mercer showed. And a study published this month by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership said global investment portfolios could lose up to 45 per cent as a consequence of short-term shifts in climate change sentiment. ( bit.ly/1WMorRi ) One firm looking to make more allowance for ESG factors in general is Standard Life Investments (SL.L), its Chief Investment Officer Rod Paris told the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit last week. "We're seeing much greater demand for us to demonstrate that principles around (ESG) investing are meaningfully embedded in the investment and research processes of fund managers; that it's real, that it's part of how we look at companies." Paris, whose firm met some but not all of the voluntary ESG criteria, said managers needed to address ESG issues to avoid scandals like those at VW. "If this is important to society, it will get priced into markets at some stage. And if it's being priced into markets, as a good investor, I want to be ahead of it, I want to understand it ... that's where the competitive advantage comes from."

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