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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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Mono-allelic expression in trypanosomes

By | December 17, 2001

The parasite Trypanosoma brucei can exploit antigenic variation of its VSG coat proteins to avoid detection by the mammalian host. In the December 13 Nature, Miguel Navarro and Keith Gull from the University of Manchester, UK, provide a mechanism for mono-allelic VSG expression (Nature 2001, 409:759-763).They investigated the role of RNA polymerase I (pol I) and nuclear compartmentalization in VSG expression. They used antibodies against T. brucei pol I, to identify a 'pol I body' outside the nu

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Neuroglobin protection in brain ischaemia

By | December 17, 2001

Ischaemic injury can prompt increased neuroglobin production and a reduction in hypoxia.

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Rewiring the brain

By | December 17, 2001

Injuries of eye lenses can induce significant axonal regeneration of the optic nerve.

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