Week in Review: November 21–25

Souped up super-resolution microscopy; how diet affects host-microbiome communication in mice; Zika-associated microcephaly can present after birth; newly sequenced genomes

By | November 28, 2016

Super temporal-resolved microscopy

Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas debuted STReM—super temporal-resolved microscopy—last month (October 24). A phase-manipulation technique, STReM allows the researchers to resolve the dynamics of fast-moving proteins, they reported. The team published its results in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

This advance “is important because in my lab, for instance, we consider the dynamics of proteins inside living cells with the understood limitation that we are mainly restricted to following membrane-bound or DNA-bound molecules,” Julie Biteen of the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the research, wrote in an email. “A method like this [new one] would allow us to measure and understand the fastest motions of, for instance, free proteins.”

Diet and host-microbiome communication

A team led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has identified metabolites that microbes in the mouse gut use to communicate with—and affect epigenetic changes in—tissues elsewhere in the body. Their results were published in Molecular Cell last week (November 23).

“The gut microbiome influences the host epigenome on a global scale,” coauthor John Denu of the University of Wisconsin told The Scientist. “We discovered key communicators, or key molecules that communicate this information, to the host.”

Diet, host-microbiome communication, and weight regain

The composition of an obesity-associated mouse gut microbiome can persist long after an animal has lost weight on a diet, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, reported in Nature last week (November 24). And this composition can impact how much weight a mouse regains—and how quickly it does so—once it is fed a high-fat diet.

“It’s a combination of the microbiome and the diet” that contribute to exaggerated post-diet weight regain in mice, coauthor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said during a November 22 press briefing. “More and more, we and others are beginning to understand the interaction between the microbiome and the host, and how that interaction occurs. We, more and more, understand that this is going on—to a very large extent—at the level of molecules that are exchanged between the host and the microbiome.”

More news in life science

Zika-Associated Microcephaly Can Present After Birth
More than a dozen babies who showed signs of in-utero infection, but were born without symptoms of congenital Zika syndrome, nonetheless went on to develop brain abnormalities.

Scientists Grow Intestinal Tissues With Functional Nerves In The Lab
Researchers are using the tissue, synthesized with human pluripotent stem cells and implanted into mice, to study a rare form of Hirschprung’s disease.

Researchers Propose Solution to Gene Drive Technology Problem
Scientists are getting to closer to developing a technique that can suppress mosquito populations on a continental scale, based on preliminary modeling results.

Genome Digest
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora gladbripennis), black blow fly (Phormia regina)

In case you missed them

Opinion: The Impact Factor, Re-envisioned
A combination of the traditional metric and the newer h5 index potentiates the scientific community toward more-balanced evaluation.

Opinion: Repairing Peer Review
Peer review is in crisis, but should be fixed, not abolished.

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