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The riddle of the pharynx

By | February 5, 2002

The pharynx of Caenorhabditis elegans is a neuromuscular organ responsible for pumping food in from the environment and for initiating digestion. Organogenesis of the pharynx involves complex patterning and morphogenesis events, and the differentiation of distinct precursor cells. In the February 1 Science, Gaudet and Mango from the University of Utah report a genomic analysis of the role of the PHA-4 protein, a homologue of the forkhead box A (FoxA/HNF3) transcription factor involved in pharyng

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Breast cancer prognosis

By | February 4, 2002

No-one really understands why some women with breast cancer respond well to chemotherapy while others do not, or how to predict an individual patient's chances of survival. In the January 31 Nature, Laura van't Veer and colleagues describe a gene-expression profiling study of breast tumors (Nature 2002, 415:530-536).They chose around 100 primary breast cancers (with and without metastases or BRCA1 mutations) and looked at the relative expression levels of 25,000 genes. They used a three-step sup

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Growth factor receptor signals intestinal tumor development

By | February 4, 2002

Epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr) is an important molecule in the development of many organs, but its role in cancerous growth remains unclear. In January 29 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Reade Roberts and colleagues from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, US, show that Egfr signaling is required for development of intestinal tumors in mice.Roberts et al. used the hypomorphic Egfrwa2 allele to examine the impact of impaired Egfr signaling on the ApcMin mouse model

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BLAST off

By | February 1, 2002

Molecular biologists using Apple computers can receive a speed boost if they use an optimized version of BLAST and the new Mac operating system OS X on a Macintosh G4. The new version of BLAST, called A/G BLAST, was engineered by Apple's Advanced Computation Group in conjunction with Genentech and was announced on 29 January at the O'Reilly Bioinformatics Technology Conference in Tucson Arizona. A/G BLAST is optimized to take advantage of the G4 processor's Altivec or 'Velocity Engine' component

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Fertile ground for gene therapy

By | February 1, 2002

Sertoli cells are essential for spermatogenesis because of their interactions with germ cells, and a defect in their function can lead to the absence of spermatozoa (azoospermia) and male infertility. In January 29 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mito Kanatsu-Shinohara and colleagues from Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, show that adenovirus-mediated gene delivery into Sertoli cells of infertile mice could successfully restore production of fer

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Mental flossing

By | February 1, 2002

Bacteria producing amyloid plaque-like curli could provide clues about the development of Alzheimer's disease.

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New global fund open for business

By | January 31, 2002

The new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is now open to funding proposals. Its 'unique strategy' must have an early impact

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Plant pathogen genome

By | January 31, 2002

reveals clues about its pathogenicity.

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Tolerization receptors

By | January 31, 2002

T suppressor cells alter certain antigen presenting cell activities thought to be central to the prevention of autoimmune diseases, allergies, transplant rejection and immune-deficiency disorders, but the molecular basis that underlies this mechanism remains unclear. In January 28 online Nature Immunology, Chih-Chao Chang and colleagues from Columbia University, New York, show that the immunoglobulin-like transcript 3 (ILT3) and ILT4 inhibitory receptors have an important role in the tolerizatio

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Transgenic frogs

By | January 31, 2002

The binary Gal4–UAS system has been used to drive the tissue-specific expression of transgenes in a number of animal models. In the February 5 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Katharine Hartley and colleagues at the Wellcome/CRC Institute Cambridge, UK, report application of the Gal4–UAS system to create transgenic Xenopus (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2002, 99:1377-1382).The authors generated Xenopus lines expressing constructs for the 'activator', the yeast trans

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