New tool mines scientific texts for fusion protein facts: Computational approach could aid efforts to develop personalized cancer treatments

A new computational tool called ProtFus screens scientific literature to validate predictions about the activity of fusion proteins — proteins encoded by the joining of two genes that previously encoded two separate proteins. Somnath Tagore in the Frenkel-Morgenstern Lab at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and colleagues present ProtFus in PLOS Computational Biology. Different kinds of fusion proteins can arise naturally in […]

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How viruses outsmart their host cells: Scientists decipher protein structure after more than fifty years of research

Viruses depend on host cells for replication, but how does a virus induce its host to transcribe its own genetic information alongside that of the virus, thus producing daughter viruses? For decades, researchers have been studying a type of bacteriophage known as ‘lambda’ to try and find an answer to this question. Using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy, a research group from […]

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Single protein plays important dual transport roles in the brain

Just as a packaging breakdown can hamstring delivery of cables, switches and connectors to a house under construction, removing a protein from neurons can block the “shipment” of proteins to developing axons. Axons are the telephone wires of the nervous system. They convey information to dendrites on other nerve cells, in a processing network of phenomenal complexity that is the […]

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A simpler way to choose the sex of offspring by separating X and Y sperm: Differential gene activity by the two sex chromosomes allows X-bearing sperm to be slowed down

A simple, reversible chemical treatment can segregate X-bearing sperm from Y-bearing sperm, allowing dramatic alteration of the normal 50/50 male/female offspring ratio, according to a new study by Masayuki Shimada and colleagues at Hiroshima University, published on August 13 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. The study was performed in mice, but the technique is likely to be widely applicable […]

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Gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease is involved in neuronal communication

A study published today in the journal Cell Reports sheds new light on how the CD2AP gene may enhance Alzheimer’s disease susceptibility. Integrating experiments in fruit flies, mice and human brains, a multi-institutional team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found that the CD2AP gene is involved in synaptic transmission, the process by which neurons communicate. Digging deeper, […]

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Exploring genetic ‘dark matter,’ researchers gain new insights into autism and stroke

With its elegant double helix and voluminous genetic script, DNA has become the of darling of nucleic acids. Yet, it is not all powerful. In order for DNA to realize its potential — for genes to become proteins — it must first be transcribed into RNA, a delicate molecule that requires intense care and guidance. “Gene expression is a lot […]

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Alzheimer’s protein is likely held together with many weak chemical interactions: Model reveals new role for overlooked electron relationships

The chemical interactions that give proteins their shape may be weaker and more numerous than previously recognized. These weak connections provide a new way for researchers to understand proteins that cause disease and help them gain insights into the fundamentals of chemistry. Chemists at the University of Tokyo modeled the building blocks of the protein structure that causes Alzheimer’s disease, […]

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New insight into microRNA function can give gene therapy a boost

Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Oxford have shown that small RNA molecules occurring naturally in cells, i.e. microRNAs, are also abundant in cell nuclei. Previously, microRNAs were mainly thought to be found in cytoplasm. The scientists also discovered that microRNA concentrations in cell nuclei change as a result of hypoxia. The findings strongly suggest […]

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Keeping a cell’s powerhouse in shape

A German-Swiss team around Professor Oliver Daumke from the MDC has investigated how a protein of the dynamin family deforms the inner mitochondrial membrane. The results, which also shed light on a hereditary disease of the optic nerve, have been published in Nature. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, generating energy in the form of chemical compounds such as […]

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Mutant bacterial receptor could point to new therapies against opportunistic pathogen

Researchers have developed a new mutant version of a receptor used by a bacterial pathogen for a chemical communication process called quorum sensing, according to a study published June 13 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University, and colleagues. As the authors note, the mutant receptor could be used to identify therapeutic compounds that inhibit […]

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