A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables in order to transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away. These cells are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 cm as part of the filament’s respiration and ingestion processes.
Researchers in Germany are working to build a “circuit diagram” of the mouse brain using an instrument normally confined to study small sample areas. Neurons and axons are tiny in diameter, and can only be studied using electron microscopy. But they can also be very long, making them difficult to map. A new technique, called “serial block face” scanning electron microscopy, gets around this problem.
Firemaster 550 is made up of four principal component chemicals and is used in polyurethane foam in a wide variety of products, ranging from mattresses to infant nursing pillows. It was developed to replace a class of fire retardants being phased out of use because of concerns regarding their safety.
Scientists in the U.S. have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that someday could be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases. The researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University said they are not using the...
Interest and research into self-assembly has accelerated in recent years, and much of this effort based on natural biological processes that involve proteins and capsids (complex protein structures). New research, using computational simulation techniques, is now showing how membranes influence and modify crucial biological self-assembly processes.
Using optical tweezers, researches have unraveled the mechanics behind mucus gel scaffolding in human lungs. The natural structures inside our lungs, they have found prevents nanoparticle movement beyond pore boundaries, protecting us from nanoscale objects such as viruses and diesel soot. It was previously unclear the extent to which such nanoparticles were prevented from moving.
To study microbes and the complex communities they form in the environment, Argonne National Laboratory and three other national laboratories are collaborating to build a research tool called the Systems Biology Knowledgebase, or KBase. KBase aims to help with current data issues facing systems biology, but its goal is larger than data integration. The team seeks to advance research in two broad, important areas: plants and microbes.
Neuroscientists from New York University and the University of California, Irvine have isolated the "when" and "where" of molecular activity that occurs in the formation of short-, intermediate-, and long-term memories. Their findings offer new insights into the molecular architecture of memory formation and, with it, a better roadmap for developing therapeutic interventions for related afflictions.
Drugs that target cell function must pass through a tough gauntlet of membrane defenses. Working from the knowledge that thin water layers at the membrane surfaces play a big part in ion and small molecule transport, scientists using rapid-fire lasers in Japan have revealed that water molecules adopt three distinct local structures around model lipid monolayers. The finding could help drive drug development.
A team of Rutgers University scientists has determined the 3D structure of the transcription initiation complex, the key intermediate in the process by which cells read out genetic information in DNA. Because the structure studied was from a bacteria, it helps our understanding of bacterial transcription regulation, and provides a starting point for developing new antibacterial agents that function by inhibiting bacterial transcription.
A team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists has developed a way to monitor how brain cells coordinate with each other to control specific behaviors, such as initiating movement or detecting an odor. The researchers' new imaging technique, based on the detection of calcium ions in neurons, could help them map the brain circuits that perform such functions.
The human brain consists of around 80 billion neurons, which form a tight-knit network that they use to exchange signals with each other. Understanding which neurons connect with each other could provide valuable information about how the brain works. A team of scientists in Germany has developed a method for decoding neural circuit diagrams. Using measurements of total neuronal activity, they can determine the probability that two neurons are connected with each other.
Magnetotactic bacteria are organisms which develop membrane-encapsulated nano-particles known as magnetosomes. Although these microbes were first discovered in 1975, the production of their magnetite crystals is still not fully understood. A researcher in the U.K. is now using computational simulation tools to discover how magnetosomes allow bacteria to orient themselves along the Earth’s magnetic field lines.
Researchers at Penn State University have developed a chemical model that mimics a possible step in the formation of cellular life on Earth 4 billion years ago. Using large "macromolecules" called polymers, the scientists created primitive cell-like structures that they infused with RNA and demonstrated how the molecules would react chemically under conditions that might have been present on the early Earth.
In times of distress, cells start to digest their own parts and recycle them for metabolic purposes. Called autophagy, this process plays a role in immune defense as a way to eliminate pathogens. Scientists have recently found the molecular “emergency brake” that regulates autophagy to keep it from getting out of control.
The winners of the 2012 Chemistry Nobel Prize won for their work in revealing the structure and functioning of a key protein complex on the surface of human cells that has been a target for drug development. Their main tool for this research was X-ray crystallography, which is performed with X-ray synchrotrons. But as the researchers would discover, not all synchrotrons are created equal.
Cancer, diabetes, and excess body weight have one thing in common: they alter cellular metabolism. An international research team has resolved a new molecular circuit controlling cellular metabolism. The finding highlights a potential cause of side effects from inhibitors used as cancer treatment, and could lead to new diabetes and obesity therapies.
Scientists in Scotland have proved a 60-year-old theory about how nerve signals are sent around the body at varying speeds as electrical impulses. An insulating layer called myelin surrounds nerve fibers, and is interrupted by gaps called nodes. Sir Andrew Huxley, who won the Nobel Prize in 1963, proposed a theory that the distance between these gaps might affect the speed of electrical signals.
Microorganisms isolated from nature use their own metabolism to produce certain chemicals. But they are often inefficient, so metabolic engineering is used to improve microbial performance. Recent work at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology highlights the potential for engineered organism, such as Escherichia coli, to aid in common industrial processes such as polymer production.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have developed an "adaptor" that makes the genetic engineering of microbial components sustantially easier and more predictable by converting regulators of translation into regulators of transcription in Escherichia coli.
British researcher John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan won this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine on Monday for discovering that mature, specialized cells of the body can be reprogrammed into stem cells—a discovery that scientists hope to turn into new treatments. More than 40 years passed between Gurdon’s initial discovery and Yamanaka’s 2006 recipe for creating stem cells.
Nearly 100 years after a British neurologist first mapped the blind spots caused by missile wounds to the brains of soldiers, University of Pennsylvania scientists have perfected his map using modern-day technology. Their results create a map of vision in the brain based upon an individual's brain structure, even for people who cannot see. Their result could, among other things, guide efforts to restore vision using a neural prosthesis that stimulates the surface of the brain.
Using a process known as microtomography, a team of Australian engineers have created a high-resolution 3D microscopic image of a segment of spine of a sea urchin. This allowed them to identify unique features in the architecture of the spine, which is a single crystal of calcite that supplies an advantageous mix of elasticity and brittleness.
Rapid, accurate genetic sequencing soon may be within reach of every doctor's office if recent research from the NIST and Columbia University can be commercialized effectively. The team has demonstrated a potentially low-cost, reliable way to obtain the complete DNA sequences of any individual using a sort of molecular ticker-tape reader, potentially enabling easy detection of disease markers in a patient's DNA.
Today's life scientists are producing genomes galore. But there's a problem: The latest DNA sequencing instruments are burying researchers in trillions of bytes of data and overwhelming existing tools in biological computing. It doesn't help that there's a variety of sequencing instruments feeding a diverse set of applications. Researchers from Iowa State University are developing a set of solutions using high-performance computing.