Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Author Archives: Jessica P. Johnson

Journal Club: Tumors create an acidic environment that helps them invade surrounding tissues

Cancer cells tend to turn their extracellular environment acidic, thus helping these rogue cells thrive while creating a hostile environment for normal ones. Acidosis promotes tumor growth, metastasis and drug resistance, while helping tumor cells evade the immune system. But … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Amoeba have long-distance preference for certain bacteria, pointing to other cell-sensing insights

How does the microscopic amoeba track down prey in the vastness of the forest floor? Ample research on the soil amoeba Dicytostelium discoideum, affectionately called “Dicty” by researchers, has provided some clues. But the mechanisms behind long-distance sensing of bacterial … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Newly solved structure of a GABA receptor could offer drug design insights

Neurons message each other with the help of excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitters. But to actually deliver those messages, the neurotransmitters must dock with protein receptors embedded in the cell membranes of adjacent neurons. Of particular interest in the human brain … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Single gene mutation may boost recombination and help produce better crops

As climate change and population growth threaten to destabilize global food security, plant breeders are ramping up efforts to create better, more productive crops. But in order to introduce new traits, breeding techniques typically rely on rare genetic recombination events … 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: Proprioceptive neurons offer new insights into a “sixth sense”

Proprioception allows people to know the position of parts of the body without seeing them, enabling us to touch type, walk in the dark without falling over, or drive a car while looking at the road. Defects in this sensory … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Horizontal gene transfer can boost fitness quickly, but the conditions matter

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is rampant in the bacterial community, as well as in some other members of the tree of life. Researchers have long known that HGT events can improve an organism’s ability to adapt to changing environments. What’s … 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: Engineered enzyme could streamline synthesis of nitrogen containing compounds

Researchers have re-engineered a bacterial enzyme to transform abundant alkanes into industrially important nitrogen-containing compounds that can be used to synthesize pharmaceuticals. In principle, the enzyme, now called P411CHA, could help streamline some methods for creating synthetic molecules, which often … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Analysis of bony fishes suggests convergent evolution is more prevalent than previously thought

Habitats and environmental pressures shape a variety of animal morphologies and behaviors over vast evolutionary time scales. These environmental pressures can sometimes produce nearly identical traits, even in completely unrelated lineages. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, results in modern species that appear very similar despite … Continue reading

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