Like any law-abiding train passenger, a molecule called oskar RNA carries a stamped ticket detailing its destination and form of transport, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have found. They show that for this molecule, moving in the right direction isn't enough: speed is of the essence. Their study, published online in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, also provides clues as to how a single molecule could receive tickets for different destinations, depending on what type of cell it is in. For a fruit fly embryo to develop properly, oskar RNA produced by the mother has to enter the egg cell, or oocyte, as it matures, and be taken to one of its ends - the posterior pole. Researchers in Anne Ephrussi's group at EMBL have now found that this movement is more complicated than it seemed.
A University of Michigan cell biologist and his colleagues have identified a potential drug that speeds up trash removal from the cell's recycling center, the lysosome. The finding suggests a new way to treat rare inherited metabolic disorders such as Niemann-Pick disease and mucolipidosis Type IV, as well as more common neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, said Haoxing Xu, who led a U-M team that reported its findings in the online, multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications. "The implications are far-reaching, " said Xu, an assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology. "We have introduced a novel concept - a potential drug to increase clearance of cellular waste - that could have a big impact on medicine." Xu cautioned, however, that the studies are in the early, basic-research stage.
In the laboratory, men and women are more likely to vote for political candidates with deeper voices, according to a new US study where two biologists teamed up with a political scientist to examine the effect of voice pitch on voters' preferences. Their findings are published in the 14 March online issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers now plan to test their findings in the presidential elections in November. Co-author Rindy Anderson, a biologist at Duke University, Durham, in North Carolina, told the press their study shows our voices carry more information than the words we utter: "We often make snap judgments about candidates without full knowledge of their policies or positions. These findings might help explain why." She said they may also explain why fewer women are elected to high office in politics.
A team of researchers at Duke University has determined the structure of a key molecule that can carry chemotherapy and anti-viral drugs into cells, which could help to create more effective drugs with fewer effects to healthy tissue. "Knowing the structure and properties of the transporter molecule may be the key to changing the way that some chemotherapies, for example, could work in the body to prevent tumor growth, " said senior author Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry at Duke. The article was published in Nature online. The transporter molecule, called a concentrative nucleoside transporter, works by moving nucleosides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA, from the outside to the inside of cells. It also transports nucleoside-like chemo drugs through cell membranes.
Researchers at the RIKEN SPring-8 Center in Harima, Japan have clarified for the first time how chromatin in archaea, one of the three evolutionary branches of organisms in nature, binds to DNA. The results offer valuable clues into the evolution of chromatin structure in multi-cellular organisms and promise insights into how abnormalities in such structure can contribute to cancers and gene disorders. Three distinct evolutionary branches of organisms make up all natural forms of life on the planet: bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. Among these three, the domain known as archaea includes a variety of organisms that live in harsh environments similar to those of an early Earth, thus offering arguably the greatest glimpse of what life may have looked like 4 billion years ago. One area of great interest is the process by which DNA bind to proteins to compact and regulate the availability of genetic material, a process which is essential in all cellular organisms.