Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Biochemistry

Journal Club: Fruit flies’ internal circadian clocks continually check the temperature

As a fruit fly sails from sunshine into a patch of shade, its temperature drops by 10 degrees F or so. Immediately, certain neurons in its brain spring into action, telling the fly’s circadian clock about the temperature change. By … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New clues in the mystery of the mechanism of general anesthetics

Anesthetics have been used in surgery since the mid-1800s, but their exact mechanisms of action continue to be the subject of intense investigation. Past studies have suggested they block neurotransmitter receptors postsynaptically. Now a new study, published January 9 in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Enzyme helps to speedily create a key chemical bond in the lab, suggesting synthetic chemistry applications 

With just a few chemical tweaks, cellular enzymes can turn some of the most common amino acids into unique compounds that possess antimicrobial or medicinal properties. But in the lab, it’s much harder to derive these molecules when using conventional … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New technique lights up the connectome, tracking signals across neuronal populations

Neuroscientists still possess an incomplete understanding of how different neurons interface and communicate throughout the brain’s wiring diagram, called the connectome. In a recent eLife article, Caltech molecular neurobiologist Carlos Lois and colleagues introduce a new tool to screen for such … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Cellular context determines whether factor promotes or tamps down cancer

Some cellular factors have an impressive multitude of roles. One prime example is LKB1 (Liver Kinase B1). It controls both cell metabolism and cell polarity, telling cells which end is which. It also appears to act as both a tumor … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Cooler temperatures might make some mosquitoes better dengue spreaders

Migrating mosquitoes that carry diseases from the tropics to cooler climes might be better at spreading disease in their new, cooler home, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Researchers from Yale University in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New tool predicts which compounds taste bitter

Humans have 25 different taste receptors that register a range of bitter chemical compounds in everything from coffee and beer to dark chocolate and medicine. And yet, while humans can easily recognize bitterness, predicting whether a chemical compound will taste … Continue reading

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Journal Club: New roles found for protein key to neurotransmission

  Scientists know many of the proteins that make neurotransmission possible, but they don’t have a handle on how all the pieces work together.  “As someone who has studied the synapse for a long time, I still find it frustrating … Continue reading

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Journal Club: CRISPR elucidates genetic basis of social behavior in ants

Drosophila has been a workhorse of genetics for roughly a century. But as a solitary insect, it hasn’t allowed researchers to investigate the genetic basis of complex social behavior in ants and bees. Now, a pair of studies published today in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Antarctic cyanobacteria show no changes due to warming—yet

Captain Robert Scott’s Antarctic Discovery expedition took place over 100 years ago—and yet its participants recently racked up another contribution to science. Thanks to the samples of bacterial mats they collected from polar ponds—samples that were pressed, dried, and stored … Continue reading

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