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Hammering melanoma

By | January 28, 2002

Survivin is an inhibitor of apoptosis that is involved in tissue development and early reports have suggested that it may have a role in the survival of cancer cells. In January 15 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Marzia Pennati and colleagues from Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy show that ribozyme-mediated attenuation of survivin expression increased the susceptibility of melanoma cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis.Pennati et al. developed a strategy for

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Lung taps

By | January 28, 2002

The control of water flow across cell membranes is important for normal lung function, but the molecular mechanisms of water permeability at this level are incompletely defined. In January 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Landon King and colleagues from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, show that aquaporins (AQP) are proteins that control the vascular permeability in the lung, and have a role in human pulmonary physiology.King et al. intravenously injected 3 liters

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Microsatellites in plant genomes

By | January 28, 2002

Microsatellites are simple repetitive DNA sequences scattered throughout eukaryote genomes. In an Advanced Online Publication from Nature Genetics, Michele Morgante and colleagues report their analysis of the density and distribution of microsatellites in several plant genomes (Nat Genet 2002, DOI:10.1038/ng822).They compared the genomes of Arabidopsis thaliana, rice (Oryzasativa) soybean (Glycinemax) maize (Zeamays) and wheat (Triticum aestivum), whose haploid genomes vary 50-fold in size. They

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Antisense RNA

By | January 25, 2002

Gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) has become a powerful tool for functional genomics. In the January 25 Science, Tijsterman et al. report a gene-silencing method induced by short (25 nucleotide) antisense RNA molecules (Science 2002, 295:694-697).They found that injecting single-stranded, antisense RNA (asRNA) oligomers into the gonadal syncytium of Caenorhabditis elegans resulted in silencing of the maternal pos-1 gene and of germline-expressed genes. Tijsterman et al. found that asRNA

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Influential sugar coats

By | January 25, 2002

Heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycan (HSG) sugars are found on the cell surface and in the extracellular matrix that surrounds cells, and have roles that are still unknown. In January 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dongfang Liu and colleagues from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, US, show that the HSG coat present on tumor cells contains bioactive sequences that influence tumor-cell growth and metastasis.Liu et al. injected the enzyme heparinase I or the hepara

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PC power to target anthrax

By | January 25, 2002

The latest project to harness the power of idle PCs will seek molecules to block the anthrax toxin.

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Life after the deep freeze

By | January 24, 2002

Fertilization and pregnancy is possible following transplantation of cryopreserved reproductive organs.

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Smelly T-shirts

By | January 24, 2002

Individuals' ability to distinguish different smells may reside in their distinct genetic make-up. In February Nature Genetics, Suma Jacob and colleagues at the University of Chicago report their studies of the genetic basis for smell preference (Nat Genet 2002, 30:175-179).They studied personal odours associated with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus, which have been linked to human behaviour. They chose 49 unmarried women from an isolated community with limited MHC haplotypes, t

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Wrestling with the anthrax toxin

By | January 24, 2002

The crystal structure of the oedema factor component of the anthrax toxin shows how it locks onto and disables a host signaling molecule.

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cis-regulatory modules

By | January 23, 2002

Deciphering the regulatory codes that dictate developmental and tissue-specific patterns of transcriptional control is a formidable challenge. In the January 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Benjamin Berman and colleagues describe a computational approach to explore the grammar of cis-regulatory modules (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2002, 99:757-762).They focused on the Drosophila genome and searched for high, local densities of binding sites for multiple transcription factors (Bico

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