Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Cell Biology

Journal Club: Key protein family helps govern sense of touch in both plants and animals

Compared to their knowledge of other senses, scientists know relatively little about how cells sense touch. A newly confirmed family of mechanosensors, comprising more than a dozen members and present in both plants and animals, is an important step toward … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Researchers catch the mouse brain in the act of learning something new

Neurobiologists have captured, for the first time, the moment in a mouse’s brain when it first learns something new: in this case, that a beep signals a delicious droplet of sugar water. The results, recently reported in Nature Neuroscience, support a famous … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Simple model reproduces patterns of toxic protein buildup across multiple neurodegenerative diseases

Fatal neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) begin as tiny pockets of misfolded proteins that evade the body’s normal detritus-removal systems. They spread throughout the brain and clog neural pathways. But exactly how these proteins propagate … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Bioengineers build a tiny heart ventricle to better understand heart disease and treatment

Bioengineer Kit Parker wants to build replacement hearts for children born with heart defects. Although that goal remains a long way off, Parker recently took a step in that direction by assembling a 1:250 scale model of the human left … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Studies hint at how cholesterol and other molecules move through cells

Four recent studies take a close look at how molecules cross the gap between membrane contacts within a cell, offering insights into crucial cellular activities. Three of the papers elucidate the transport of cholesterol; the fourth suggests that such contact … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Scientists culture human placenta cells in hopes of understanding pregnancy complications

A collection of human placental cells known as trophoblasts are responsible for much of what goes right in a healthy pregnancy. But growing and studying these cells in the lab has been a major challenge. Now, a team of Japanese … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Cells use waves to regulate mitosis, suggesting similar wave dynamics as myriad natural phenomena

  Over the past decade, biologists have discovered an ever-increasing number of phenomena that exhibit wave-like behavior. Everything from the firing of neurons to the spread of a virus through a population can show a similar pattern: they emanate from … 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: Wheat’s molecular response to full sun exposure could suggest ways to increase yield

A recent study points to novel ways of improving crop yields and food production by elucidating how long it takes for wheat to return to full photosynthesis when making the transition from shade to sun exposure. The Green Revolution in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Insights from 3-D images defy assumptions about how plant cells communicate

When plant cells communicate, plasmodesmata serve as crucial conduits. These channels cross cell walls, linking one cell to its neighbor. If a plant needs to grow larger or fight off a pathogen, molecular signals pass through plasmodesmata to keep cells … Continue reading

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