Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Biochemistry

Journal Club: Understanding how a plant makes a hook could someday improve crops

This spring, as the first shoots of new plants emerge from the soil, many are bent over in a hook. This simple act protects the fragile stem tip and leaves as the sprout pokes up through the dirt. But how … Continue reading

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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: Plants load extracellular vesicles with a new class of RNAs

A recent study in The Plant Cell found that plants release extracellular vesicles carrying a new class of RNA molecules, named “tiny RNAs.” The findings are among the first to reveal the contents of these vesicles, and may hint at … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Sticky proteins play crucial role in tailoring synapses

The proteins that join neurons together at the synapse do more than just act like glue. Synaptic adhesion proteins are known to affect the activity of neurotransmitters, weaken or strengthen synaptic connections, or direct where synapses form. Faulty adhesion proteins … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Microglial protein trafficking could play a role in neurodegenerative disorders

Neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or Parkinson’s are associated with a build-up of insoluble, toxic forms of proteins such as amyloid or tau in the brain. Normally, intracellular protein complexes known as retromers help with recycling and trafficking … 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: Timed treatment fends off hardening of arteries in mice

Timing is everything—including, possibly, when treating cardiovascular disease. By administering a drug-like compound in mice at a certain point during the circadian cycle, researchers were able to slow atherosclerosis while minimizing side effects, according to a recent study in Cell … Continue reading

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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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