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Genetic modification of mouse embryonic stem cells

By | December 20, 2001

Mitotic recombination can be reproducibly induced in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells using the Cre/loxP rare-cutter restriction enzymes.

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Molecular effects of the fat hormone

By | December 20, 2001

Adipose-derived protein Acrp30 is a recently identified hormone released from fat tissue that has a role in glucose metabolism, but its molecular effects remain elusive. In December 15 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Terry Combs and colleagues from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, show that a moderate rise in circulating levels of Acrp30 inhibits both the expression of hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes and the rate of endogenous glucose production. Combs et al. studied the ef

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UK autism review emphasizes importance of lay participation

By | December 20, 2001

Lay participation in medical research review illustrates the differing perceptions that scientists and the public have of each other.

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Genetic pathway to sudden death

By | December 19, 2001

KChIP2 (Kv Channel-Interacting Protein 2) is preferentially expressed in the adult heart and has a role in sustaining the normal rhythmic beating, but its role in cardiac pathology remains unclear. In December 14 Cell, Hai-Chien Kuo and colleagues from University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, USA, show that a defect in KChIP2 is sufficient to confer a marked genetic susceptibility to ventricular tachycardia that would ordinarily lead to sudden death in humans.Kuo et al. used KChIP2-/- mice

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Green flies

By | December 19, 2001

In the December 18 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Xavier Morin and colleagues describe a gene-trap strategy that generates green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions and allows the study of protein distribution and subcellular localization in living flies (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001, 98:15050-15055).They created a protein-trap transposon (PTT), a P element containing an artificial exon encoding GFP and flanked by splice acceptor and donor sequences. They derived over 600 fluoresc

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Producing better antiviral peptide vaccines

By | December 19, 2001

Natural viral proteins cannot constantly be used as optimal vaccines because they do not always stimulate efficiently the immune system. In December 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Jeffrey Ahlers and colleagues from National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA, show that sequence modification of natural viral proteins to increase epitope affinity for class II MHC molecules (epitope enhancement) can improve immunogenicity.Ahlers et al. found that modification of a Th cell epitope to increase

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A mechanism of COX-2 excess in tumors

By | December 18, 2001

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is a rate-limiting enzyme in prostaglandin biosynthesis with a potential role in promoting colon carcinogenesis, but the mechanism of COX-2 overexpression remains unknown. In December 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dan Dixon and colleagues from University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA, show that altered expression of the mRNA stability factor HuR promotes cyclooxygenase-2 expression in colon cancer cells.The COX-2 mRNA carries an A/U-rich element (ARE), a cis-acting

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Evolving without sex

By | December 18, 2001

Arbuscular mycorhizal fungi, which have lived for 400 million years without sex, present a challenge to evolutionary theories about the role of sex. In the December 13 Nature Gerrit Kuhn and colleagues at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, discuss genetic variation within Arbuscular mycorhizal fungus individuals, which contain hundreds of inherited nuclei (Nature 2001, 414:745-748).They carried out specific DNA-DNA FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) analysis to show that fungal spore

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Gene therapy for sickle cell disease

By | December 18, 2001

globin gene variant transferred to hematopoietic stem cells can correct sickle cell anemia.

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Malaria vaccine trials move forward

By | December 18, 2001

New malaria vaccine that reacts to the parasite as it is injected by the mosquito shows promise.

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