Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Biochemistry

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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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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Insights into heat shock protein machinery could point to interventions for neurodegenerative disease

Heat shock proteins perform a range of functions related to protein quality control. Among them: breaking down dangerous protein aggregates called amyloid fibers. The buildup of certain amyloids has been linked to neurodegenerative disease. But the exact mechanism by which … Continue reading

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Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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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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