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Molecular & Cell Biology

Category: Molecular & Cell Biology

Every organism--from a seedling to a president--must protect its DNA at all costs, but precisely how a cell distinguishes between damage to its own DNA and the foreign DNA of an invading virus has remained a mystery.


Dr. Anita Göndör and her colleagues at Karolinska Institutet show that circadian genes 'take a nap' everyday at the periphery of the nucleus.
Mobility between different physical environments in the cell nucleus regulates the daily oscillations in the activity of genes that are controlled by the internal biological clock, according to a study that is published in the journal Molecular Cell. Eventually, these findings may lead to novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of diseases linked with disrupted circadian rhythm.

Florida State University researchers have taken a big step forward in the fight against cancer with a discovery that could open up the door for new research and treatment options.


These are plant cells stretching within the artificial scaffold.
Miniscule artificial scaffolding units made from nano-fibre polymers and built to house plant cells have enabled scientists to see for the first time how individual plant cells behave and interact with each other in a three-dimensional environment.


UC Davis researchers show how four proteins come together to make the machine that assembles tubulin, the building block of microtubules.
When they think about how cells put together the molecules that make life work, biologists have tended to think of assembly lines: Add A to B, tack on C, and so on. But the reality might be more like a molecular version of a 3-D printer, where a single mechanism assembles the molecule in one go.


This image shows equipment used in a highly automated, robotic X-ray crystallography system at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser.
Scientists have revealed never-before-seen details of how our brain sends rapid-fire messages between its cells. They mapped the 3-D atomic structure of a two-part protein complex that controls the release of signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, from brain cells. Understanding how cells release those signals in less than one-thousandth of a second could help launch a new wave of research on drugs for treating brain disorders.


A ribosome (gray) creates a protein by translating the genetic code within an mRNA molecule (blue).
In what appears to be an unexpected challenge to a long-accepted fact of biology, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have found that ribosomes -- the molecular machines in all cells that build proteins -- can sometimes do so even within the so-called untranslated regions of the ribbons of genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA).

Until now only known for role in polyglutamine diseases, such as Huntington's.


Microtubules are hollow cylinders with walls made up of tubulin proteins -- alpha (green) and beta (blue) -- plus EB proteins (orange) that can either stabilize or destabilize the structure.
Microtubules, hollow fibers of tubulin protein only a few nanometers in diameter, form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in cell division (mitosis) through their ability to undergo rapid growth and shrinkage, a property called "dynamic instability." Through a combination of high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and a unique methodology for image analysis, a team of researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has produced an atomic view of microtubules that enabled them to identify the crucial role played by a family of end-binding (EB) proteins in regulating microtubule dynamic instability.

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the worst possible form of genetic malfunction that can cause cancer and resistance to therapy. New information published this week reveals more about why this occurs and how these breaks can be repaired.


Dr. Chunhong Yan is a molecular biologist at the Georgia Regent University Cancer Center and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU.
DNA damage increases the risk of cancer, and researchers have found that a protein, known to rally when cells get stressed, plays a critical, early step in its repair.

A recently discovered family of small RNA molecules, some of which have been implicated in cancer progression, has just gotten much larger thanks to a new RNA sequencing technique developed by researchers at UC Santa Cruz.


Stills from time-lapse video showing transdifferentiation of pre-B cells into yeast-eating macrophages.
All it takes is one molecule to reprogram an antibody-producing B cell into a scavenging macrophage. This transformation is possible, new evidence shows, because the molecule (C/EBPa, a transcription factor) "short-circuits" the cells so that they re-express genes reserved for embryonic development. The findings appear July 30 in Stem Cell Reports, the journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Since mice share 90 percent of our genes they play an important role in understanding human genetics. The European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC) brought together scientists from across Europe to investigate the functions of 320 genes in mice. Over half of these genes had no previously known role, and the remaining genes were poorly understood.

By studying the yeast used in beer- and bread-making, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have uncovered the mechanism by which ancient proteins repair DNA damage and how their dysfunction could lead to the development of tumors. The findings, published online today in Nature Communications, could lead to new ways to tailor cancer therapies.

A multidisciplinary team at Yale, led by Yale Cancer Center members, has defined a subgroup of genetic mutations that are present in a significant number of melanoma skin cancer cases. Their findings shed light on an important mutation in this deadly disease, and may lead to more targeted anti-cancer therapies.


This is an example of hierarchical folded package of globule.
A group of researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University tried to address one of the least understood issues in the modern molecular biology, namely, how do strands of DNA pack themselves into the cell nucleus. Scientists concluded that packing of the genome in a special state called "fractal globule", apart from other known advantages of this state, allows the genetic machinery of the cell to operate with maximum speed due to comperatively rapid thermal diffusion. The article describing their results was published in Physical Review Letters.

Pharmaceutical sciences researchers at Washington State University have discovered a protein's previously unknown role in cell division.

Swedish researchers at Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute have found that genes that control the biological clocks in cells throughout the body are altered after losing a single night of sleep, in a study that is to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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Researchers have shown that the levels of two proteins present in blood and cerebrospinal fluid increase significantly at different time points following traumatic brain injury (TBI), confirming their potential value as biomarkers of trauma-related brain damage. The researchers linked the changes in circulating UCH-L1 and GFAP proteins in rats to brain tissue damage and neuronal degeneration seen on examination of the rat brains and present their findings in an article published in Journal of Neurotrauma, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Neurotrauma website.

Research findings obtained over the past decades increasingly indicate that stored memories are coded as permanent changes of neuronal communciation and the strength of neuronalinterconnections. The learning process evokes a specific pattern of electrical activity in these cells, which influences the response behavior to incoming signals, the expression of genes and the cellular morphology beyond the learning process itself.


Researcher Marie Hjelmseth Aune at CEMIR, the Centre of Molecular Inflammation Research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, looks at a macrophage engulfing an invading bacterium.
The human immune system is a powerful and wonderful creation. If you cut your skin, your body mobilizes a series of different proteins and cells to heal the cut. If you are infected by a virus or bacteria, your immune system responds with a series of cells that attack the invader and neutralize it.

DNA, the molecular foundation of life, has new tricks up its sleeve. The four bases from which it is composed snap together like jigsaw pieces and can be artificially manipulated to construct endlessly varied forms in two and three dimensions. The technique, known as DNA origami, promises to bring futuristic microelectronics and biomedical innovations to market.


Each of the five panels shows a memory snapshot created by hundreds of place cells while the rat was physically stationary at the top of the 1.8 m track
By using electrode implants to track nerve cells firing in the brains of rats as they plan where to go next, Johns Hopkins scientists say they have learned that the mammalian brain likely reconstructs memories in a way more like jumping across stepping stones than walking across a bridge. A summary of their experiments, published in the journal Science on July 10, sheds light on what memories are and how they form, and gives clues about how the system can fail.

Case Western Reserve researchers already demonstrated that a single protein plays a pivotal role in the use of nutrients by major organs that allow for the burning of fat during exercise or regulating the heart's contractile and electrical activity. Now they have found a new benefit of Kruppel-like Factor 15 (KLF15) -- keeping the body in metabolic balance.


From left: Peter Facchini, professor in biological sciences, Jill Hagel, research associate, and Scott Farrow, PhD student.
Many people who live in developing countries do not have access to the pain relief that comes from morphine or other analgesics. That's because opiates are primarily derived from the opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) and are dependent on the plant health and supply around the world.

Canadian and British researchers have discovered that chromosomes play an active role in animal cell division. This occurs at a precise stage - cytokinesis - when the cell splits into two new daughter cells. It was observed by a team of researchers including Gilles Hickson, an assistant professor at the University of Montreal's Department of Pathology and Cell Biology and researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, his assistant Silvana Jananji, in collaboration with Nelio Rodrigues, a PhD student, and Sergey Lekomtsev, a postdoc, working in the group led by Buzz Baum of the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London. Their findings were published today in Nature.


Australian researchers have identified a protein responsible for preserving the antibody-producing cells that lead to long-term immunity after infection or vaccination.
Melbourne researchers have identified a protein responsible for preserving the antibody-producing cells that lead to long-term immunity after infection or vaccination.


Left: Teosinte ear; right: corn ear; center: ear from the first generation hybrid of a cross between teosinte and corn.
If not for a single genetic mutation, each kernel on a juicy corn cob would be trapped inside a inedible casing as tough as a walnut shell. The mutation switches one amino acid for another at a specific position in a protein regulating formation of these shells in modern corn's wild ancestor, according to a study published in the July 2015 issue of GENETICS, a publication of the Genetics Society of America.


Fat cells with the R1788W ankyrin-B mutation (shown on the right) have enlarged lipid droplets. The green color highlights the sites of fat storage in mouse adipose cells.
Practically everyone gets fatter as they get older, but some people can blame their genes for the extra padding. Researchers have shown that two different mutations in a gene called ankyrin-B cause cells to suck up glucose faster than normal, fattening them up and eventually triggering the type of diabetes linked to obesity.

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