Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Mutations in metabolic genes can cause antibiotic resistance

A recent study in Science reveals a novel avenue by which genetic changes make bacteria resistant to drugs: mutations in genes involved in cellular metabolism, including some that convert food into energy. “The genes were known; their involvement in metabolism … Continue reading

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In Mesopotamia, early cities may have faltered before climate-driven collapse

Some of the earliest cities, now buried in the soil of Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Lebanon, are thought to have collapsed because of rapid climatic change. Drought along with lower temperatures descended on these settlements some 4,200 years ago, forcing … Continue reading

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Noncoding DNA shown to underlie function, cause limb malformations

Genes that code for proteins make up only about 2% of the human genome. Many researchers once dismissed the other 98% of the genome as “junk DNA,” but geneticists now know these noncoding regions help to regulate the activity of … Continue reading

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Host defenses signal Salmonella to hijack immune cells, spur disease

Immune cells attack dangerous bacteria by engulfing them and then releasing a cascade of defense molecules. But some bacteria, known as intracellular pathogens, have evolved to survive this onslaught and replicate inside immune cells. The result can be Salmonella poisoning … Continue reading

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How an animal’s teeth can reveal where it’s been

  A careful measurement of isotope ratios in animals’ teeth could offer a new way to closely track their movements, according to a recent study that showed how the approach would work in Mongolian sheep and goat herds. Tooth enamel … Continue reading

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To predict the success of tree-planting schemes, look to villagers’ involvement

Tree-planting projects are sprouting up worldwide in an effort to sequester carbon. Acres of saplings are quick to plant but don’t necessarily have staying power: many die or are cut down before the trees grow to maturity. A recent study … Continue reading

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Friends appear to share patterns of brain activity

  Great minds think alike, so goes the saying. Greatness notwithstanding, a study in PNAS finds that the minds of friends do appear to share patterns of activity. “A lot of us have the intuition that our friends are kind … Continue reading

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Study reveals evolutionary origins of fold-switching protein

Most proteins are thought to fold into a single active shape. But the human immune protein XCL1 is a rare breed that can switch back and forth between two different structures, each with its own function. A recent study in … Continue reading

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Model captures how polarization emerges on social media during political campaigns

In recent years, social media platforms have become hotbeds of political discourse—as well as rancorous division. In a recent paper in Physical Review X, researchers unveil a new mathematical model that demonstrates how a combination of campaign information and peer … Continue reading

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A cellular and genetic atlas of the lung offers insights into disease and development

Explorers need maps. That’s as true for hikers blazing trails as it is for molecular biologists striving to cure disease. A new atlas of the lungs, recently published in Nature, is the most comprehensive map ever of that vital organ. … Continue reading

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Study finds clues to Alzheimer’s disease onset in the aging female brain  

In the United States, women make up nearly two-thirds of all diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s disease. On average, women live about 5 years longer than men, but that life expectancy discrepancy doesn’t likely account for such a large, sex-skewed prevalence … Continue reading

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