Posted by: Dan | September 2, 2007

Cells Weekly #43

In the interests of promoting science posts relating (however broadly) to my interests of cell and molecular biology, here’s my biweekly installment of “Cells Weekly,” a showcase of topical blog posts by others from the past week.

Sea Anemone Bought from a Moscow Pet Shop Yields Best Fluorescent Protein Yet – Mo explains how a new red fluorescent protein—derived from a brilliant red sea anemone purchased in a Moscow pet shop—can reveal body tissues more vividly than other fluorescent proteins in use today, paving the way for better imaging both in vivo and in vitro. At The Neurophilosopher’s Blog.

Animal Rights Activists Hijack the Brains of Three Respectable Scientists! – While not cell biology per se, Nick has a good take-down of a recent paper suggesting that cell culture and computer modeling may supplant the need for whole-animal experiments. Lament it all they want, but animal testing is a necessary part of experimental biology. At The Scientific Activist.

Update on Mirror Neurons – Charles gives us just that, on Science and Reason.

Junk on Cancer – RPM tells us a little tale on the misuse of the term ‘junk DNA.’ At Evolgen.

RNA Regulons – Amnestic chats up post-transcriptional operons in yeast, which offer some interesting tricks for cells to regulate their gene expression patterns. At Gene Expression (classic).

Why Don’t All Whales Have Cancer? – Craig explains why more cells doesn’t mean more likelihood of developing cancer, putting tumor cells into perspective. At Deep Sea News.

Alternative Routes and Mutational Robustness in Complex Regulatory Networks – PvM points out a neat new paper on the evolution of complex regulatory networks which leaves vacuous arguments of intelligent design in the dust. At The Panda’s Thumb.

Neurotransmitters Don’t Travel Between Cells Through Electrical Current, Cornell Researchers Report – Anne reports on a recent biophysical study done here at Cornell. At the Cornell Chronicle Online.

A Bacterial Mouth – Guest Author Mark Martin describes pit-like structures in bacterial for engulfing nutrients, leading to the possibility of evolution toward something like phagocytosis and pinocytosis, and possible proto-vacuoles. At Small Things Considered.

Endosymbiosis in Progress – Josh reposts an article on a process described as ‘secondary symbiosis.’ At Thoughts from Kansas.

Let There Be Sex – MikeGene has a good post on how a couple proteins involved in homologous recombination may have been involved in the origins of eukarya and meiosis. By itself, that’s a pretty good biology post, mostly because he leaves out natural theology. On The Design Matrix.

What RecA has to do with it – Rosie continues her thoughts on the role of RecA and RecE in DNA uptake and metabolism in competent bacteria. At Rrresearch.

More on Microfluidics – Mo puts biotechnology on front-stage with a description of microfluidics. Specifically, his example is of using microfluidics for studying individual neurons. At The Neurophilosopher’s Blog.


Carnivals: Tangled Bank #87, Encephalon #30, Gene Genie #14, I and the Bird #56, Bio::Blogs #14.

And a half dozen ScienceDaily picks below the fold:

All Eukaryotic Kinases Share One Common Set Of Substrates

A team of researchers has established that all eukaryotic kinases share a common set of substrates, nine amino acid segments shared by all proteins that are known to be phosphorylated.

When Is A Stem Cell Not Really A Stem Cell?

Working with embryonic mouse brains, a team of Johns Hopkins scientists seems to have discovered an almost-too-easy way to distinguish between “true” neural stem cells and similar, but less potent versions. Their finding could simplify the isolation of stem cells not only from brain but also other body tissues.

A Gene For Metastasis

Scientists reveal the actions of a key player in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in the Western world. The tumor starts off as a polyp but then turns into an invasive and violent cancer, which often spreads to the liver. In a new article scientists reveal mechanisms that help this cancer metastasize.

Understanding How Obese Fat Cells Work

In obese individuals, fat cells are bloated and inflamed because they receive too many nutrients, including lipids. In these cells, various components cannot work properly anymore and, instead, they activate new proteins to cope with the situation. One of the most challenged organelles in obese fat cells is a maze-like compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that makes proteins and lipid droplets and senses the amount of nutrients that enter the cell.

Cells United Against Cancer

Sheets of highly organized epithelial cells line all the cavities and free surfaces of the body, forming barriers that control the movement of liquids and cells in the body organs. Now, the researchers have found that the organized structure of normal breast epithelial cells may also serve as a barrier against cancer.

Stem Cell ‘Immortal Strand Hypothesis’ Refuted

How do adult stem cells protect themselves from accumulating genetic mutations that can lead to cancer? For more than three decades, many scientists have argued that the “immortal strand hypothesis” – which states that adult stem cells segregate their DNA in a non-random manner during cell division — explains it. And several recent reports have presented evidence backing the idea. But new evidence deals a mortal blow to the immortal strand, at least as far as blood-forming stem cells are concerned.


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