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Top 7 cell biology papers

By | July 13, 2010

#1 Gene for autoimmunity Rare genetic variants in the protein sialic acid acetylesterase (SASE) are linked to common human autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, arthritis, and Crohn's disease. In mice, defects in the protein have been linked to problems in B-cell signaling and the development of auto-antibodies. I. Surolia, et al., "Functionally defective germline variants of sialic acid acetylesterase in autoimmunity," Nature, 466:243-7. Epub 2010 Jun 16. linkurl:Eval;http://f1000b

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We Are (not) Scientists

By | July 9, 2010

Don't bother trying to figure out if the members of the rock band We Are Scientists are actually scientists. Don't even try to figure out what their name comes from -- they give a different explanation in practically every interview, sometimes claiming it came from a random string of letters that appeared during a game of Boggle. In fact, it's best not to take anything they say too seriously. Bassist Chris Cain holding our January, 2010 issueWith that, I set out to get my own tongue-in-cheek in

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Better housing fights cancer in mice

By | July 8, 2010

Enriching animals' environments does much more than improve their psyches -- it may fight deadly disease, according to a study published online today (July 8) in Cell. Example of enriched environmentImage: Adam MartinLiving in larger spaces with access to more toys and companions helped shrink, or even eliminate, tumors in cancerous mice. "The findings are very interesting and also very provocative," said physiologist linkurl:John Hall;https://lawwebn.umc.edu/cgi-local/hr/intranetEmployeeAndDe

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New antibodies block HIV

By | July 8, 2010

Newly discovered broadly neutralizing antibodies appear to block HIV from entering and infecting human immune cells. These include two antibodies that thwart more than 90 percent of circulating HIV-1 strains, a discovery that may aid in the development of a vaccine. VRC01 (green and blue) binding to the gp120envelope glycoprotein (gray) and theHIV-1 site of vulnerability (red).Image courtesy of Peter Kwong, Jonathan Stuckey,Tongquing ZhouThe researcher team, composed mainly of scientists with t

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Parental biases influence brain

By | July 8, 2010

The body's tendency to silence the expression of one parental allele in favor of the other -- a practice known as genomic imprinting -- is much more widespread than scientists have believed, according to a new genome-wide study in mice, published online this week in linkurl:Science.;http://www.sciencemag.org/ The study found that the number of genes in mouse brains with a bias toward either the maternal or paternal allele is thirteen times higher than previously thought. Kessa LigerroWikimedia

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miRNA stunts drug addiction

By | July 7, 2010

The brain appears to contain molecular elements that can protect it from drug addiction -- specifically, small non-coding RNAs that inhibit the development of addiction in rats exposed to cocaine, according to a study published this week in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, AnetodeSpecifically, one particular microRNA (miRNA) "seems to actively decrease the motivation of the animal to take the drug," said behavioral neuroscientist and study author linkurl:Paul Kenny;http://www.scripps.edu/flor

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Top 7 biochemistry papers

By | July 6, 2010

#1 Complex I enzyme revealed The solved structure of a bacterial complex I enzyme -- first in line in the energy-producing respiratory chain -- reveals important mechanics of this ubiquitous protein. Specifically, the structure shows how it hustles electrons and protons across membranes. R.G. Efremov et al. "The architecture of respiratory complex I," Nature, 465(7297):441-5. 2010. linkurl:Eval;http://f1000biology.com/article/id/3375956 by Nathan Nelson, Tel Aviv University; Andrea Mattevi, U

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DNA repair causes damage

By | July 1, 2010

A DNA repair mechanism may come at a cost -- cancer-causing mutations, according to a study published this week in Science. DNA ligase repairs chromosomal damageImage: Wikimedia commons, TomEllenberger WashingtonUniversity School of MedicineA supposedly accurate DNA repair mechanism employed by cells to fix double-strand breaks can surprisingly increase the nearby mutation rate by up to 1400 times, providing a possible explanation for the accumulation of tumor-causing mutations in cancerous tis

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Longevity's secret code revealed

By | July 1, 2010

Extreme longevity is associated with a select group of genetic markers, according to a new study of centenarians, people living at least 100 years. Using these markers, researchers can predict a person's ability to become a centenarian with 77 percent accuracy. Researchers say they can predict yourlikelihood of becoming a centenarianwith 77 percent accuracyImage: Flickr, user linkurl:Dark_Ghetto28;http://www.flickr.com/photos/dark_ghetto28/407953159/ "Exceptional longevity is not this vacuous

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New master switch in brain?

By | July 1, 2010

In an unexpected twist, a new study casts a classical protein in a surprising new role: Pax6, a well-recognized factor in brain and eye development in mice, appears to play a very different and crucial part in the development of the human brain. Mature neurons (red) and glial cells (green) derived from hESCs Image courtesy of Su-Chun Zhang The research, reported this week in linkurl:Cell Stem Cell,;http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/ provides "exciting new insights into the fundamental process

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