Insight on Research


Development of new genetic polymers

A group of researchers, led by Philipp Holliger in the LMB’s PNAC Division, have created the first synthetic molecules that, alongside the natural molecules DNA and RNA, are capable of storing and replicating genetic information.
Vitor Pinheiro and colleagues from Philipp’s group used sophisticated protein engineering techniques to adapt enzymes, that in nature synthesise and replicate DNA, to establish six new genetic systems based on synthetic nucleic acids.

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New insight on how sensory neurons control sustained responses to environmental dangers

A group of researchers, led by Mario de Bono’s group in the LMB’s Cell Biology division, have extended our understanding of how animals respond to long-term dangers at a molecular level – which may help in explaining how this process fails in a range of human diseases and medical conditions.
Sensory neurons send the brain a barrage of environmental information. Most of these neurons react briefly to short-term stimuli and ignore the stimulus if it persists.

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Nuocyte research points to new strategies to treat asthma

A group of collaborative researchers, led by Andrew McKenzie’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division, have identified new processes that lead to the development of a novel cell (the nuocyte) implicated in allergies.
Nuocytes play a critical role in immune responses to parasitic worm infection. However, they also initiate the early generation of immune responses that can lead to asthma or other allergic conditions.

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How bacteria ensure stalled ribosomes are rescued

Venki Ramakrishnan’s group, from the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, has provided structural evidence for how bacterial transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) rescues stalled ribosomes at the end of prematurely truncated or defective messenger RNAs and targets incompletely synthesised proteins for degradation. tmRNA (also known as 10S RNA) combines properties of both transfer RNA (tRNA) and messenger RNA (mRNA) and works in concert with Small Protein B (SmpB).

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Link between shape shifting protein and HIV resistance

A group of collaborative researchers, led by Leo James’ group in the LMB’s PNAC Division, have discovered evidence that helps to explain why primates are more resistant to HIV than humans are.
Rhesus macaques are protected against HIV by a protein, Rhesus TRIMCyp (RhTC), which targets HIV inside cells thereby preventing infection. However, how RhTC targeted HIV viruses and why it remained effective, given the diversity of viral strains and their capacity for mutation, was unclear.

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Shedding light on cellular transport systems

For cells to perform their elaborate functions, various components must be delivered to the right place at the right time. This is dependent on the cellular equivalent of a railway system; tiny protein machines called molecular motor complexes transport cargoes to their destination by traversing a network of polarized tracks within the cell. However, it is not clear how transport is coordinated by the motor complexes and how different cargoes are delivered to different destinations.

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The sweet way of detecting bacterial invasion in cells

Felix Randow’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division has identified Galectin-8 as a novel danger receptor and factor of the cellular machinery that protects human cells against bacterial invasion. Galectin 8, a sugar-binding protein in the cytosol, was discovered to be a key component in limiting the growth of Salmonella and to participate in the early line of defence against infection.

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Novel Mechanism for Regulating Inflammation and Cancer Discovered

Matthew Freeman’s group in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division have discovered a novel protein, iRhom2, that plays a central role in the signalling pathways that regulate inflammation and cancer.
The cytokine protein, TNF, is the primary trigger of inflammation in humans. To function, active TNF must be shed from cells by the protease TACE. TACE is also responsible for the cleavage of many important growth factors, that when deregulated can contribute to cancer.

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New evidence of nuocyte involvement in allergic asthma

Andrew McKenzie’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division have shown for the first time that a new immune cell type, the nuocyte, can orchestrate the initiation of allergic asthma in an experimental model. Nuocytes were shown to cause airway hyperactivity – a key feature of human asthma.

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New intracellular transport system discovered.

Melina Schuh, in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, has uncovered for the first time a new transport system for long-range transport of vesicles in animal cells. This discovery could re-write the textbooks on the subject.
Intracellular transport is vital for the function, survival and architecture of every cell. The contents of our body’s cells are constantly on the move.

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