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Astrocytes teach stem cells to become neurons

By | May 3, 2002

Astrocytes make up nearly half of the total number of brain cells, providing structural, metabolic and tropic support for neurons, but they were considered to play no active part in stem cell differentiation. In May 2 Nature, Hongjun Song and colleagues from The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, show for the first time that adult astrocytes can induce neurogenesis by instructing the stem cells to adopt a neuronal fate (Nature 2002, 417:39-44).Song et al. used cell culture systems and investi

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HIV's preferences

By | May 3, 2002

HIV infection induces the loss of immunological control of HIV replication but the mechanism involved in altering HIV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses remains unresolved. In May 2 Nature, Daniel Douek and colleagues from National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA show that the virus replicates unchecked because HIV preferentially infects HIV-specific CD4+ T cells (Nature 2002, 417:95-98).Douek et al. observed that HIV-specific memory CD4+ T cells in infected individuals contain more HIV viral DN

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Stress and alcohol

By | May 3, 2002

Alcoholism is a complex disorder with contributions from both genetic factors and environmental factors, such as stress. In the May 3 Science, Inge Sillaber and colleagues report the use of a genetic model to investigate stress-induced alcohol drinking in mice (Science 2002, 296:931-933).Sillaber et al. studied mice lacking the Crhr1 gene, encoding the receptor for corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which has been implicated in stress-induced psychiatric disorders including alcoholism. Mutan

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More roles for vitamin C

By | May 2, 2002

Ascorbic-acid transporter Slc23a1 and vitamin C are essential for maintaining brain integrity and perinatal survival.

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Turning rats into robots

By | May 2, 2002

Laboratory animals can be trained to perform simple tasks in response to external cues (such as specific noises) or rewards (such as food). In the May 2 Nature, Sanjiv Talwar and colleagues describe a learning procedure based on brain microstimulation rather than external cues (Nature 2002, 417:37-38).Talwar et al. implanted stimulating electrodes in the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) or the somatosensory cortical, to mimic rewards or cues, respectively. They strapped a remote-control microstimul

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2002 National Academy Fellows

By | May 1, 2002

The US National Academy of Sciences today announced the election of 72 new members.

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How to attract sperm

By | May 1, 2002

Chemical signals play a crucial role in the communication between sperm and egg that facilitates fertilization, but the identity of the signaling molecules involved remains unclear. In May 15 Journal of Experimental Biology, Jeffrey Riffell and colleagues from University of California, Los Angeles, show that the amino acid L-tryptophan is necessary and sufficient to promote recruitment of sperm to the surface of eggs in red abalone (Haliotis rufescens).Riffell et al. investigated the behavioral

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Mexican study confirms GM contamination of maize

By | May 1, 2002

Mexican researchers are set to publish evidence supporting the hotly disputed claims of GM contamination of the Mexican maize crop.

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Phagocytic programme

By | May 1, 2002

Phagocytosis, the gobbling up of invading pathogens by professional phagocytes, is critical for innate immunity. In the 30 April Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scott Kobayashi and researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT, describe a study of the gene expression changes induced by phagocytosis (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.010123497).Kobayashi et al. used oligonucleotide microarrays to monitor the

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Bee behavior

By | April 30, 2002

The insect foraging (for) gene encodes a cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) that affects foraging behavior. In Drosophila two different for alleles have been found, and the two alleles affect food-searching behavior under different ecological conditions. In the April 26 Science, Ben-Shahar et al. describe changes in for expression during bee development (Science 2002, 296:741-744).They studied the honeybee (Apis mellifera), which undergoes an age-related developmental switch from hive wor

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