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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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Susceptibility gene for prostate cancer

By | January 23, 2002

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men, but little is known about its causes, genetic or otherwise. In January 22 Advance Online Publication Nature Genetics, a group of researchers at 14 institutions in the US, Finland and Sweden, coordinated by National Institute of Health, Bethesda, US, describe a candidate tumor suppressor gene that is mutated in families in which men have a high risk of developing prostate cancer.Carpten et al. examined a region on chromosome

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Switching on angiogenesis

By | January 23, 2002

The growth of actively proliferating tumors requires the initiation of new blood vessel production by an unknown trigger, often referred to as the 'angiogenic switch'. In January 22 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jack Arbiser and colleagues from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, US show that reactive oxygen generated by Nox1 is an important trigger of angiogenesis.Arbiser et al. found that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA becomes markedly up regulated

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How proteins come together

By | January 22, 2002

Specific amino acid substitutions favor protein aggregation by facilitating the assembly of partially denatured conformations.

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Hybrid vigor in rock pools

By | January 22, 2002

Excessive inbreeding can be deleterious to a population, resulting in inbreeding depression. Gene flow through metapopulations can be amplified by hybrid vigor, if the hybrid offspring of immigrants and residents have a competitive advantage. In the January 18 Science, Ebert et al. describe experiments that test this theory (Science 2002, 295:485-488).They studied the colonization and extinction dynamics of local populations of the water flea Daphnia magna in rock pools on islands along the Scan

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