Transmembrane channel-like (TMC) genes encode a conserved family of predicted membrane proteins in animals. The founding member, human Tmc1, is strongly linked to deafness, being expressed in cochlear hair cells and known to be required for their function. However, the precise molecular function of these proteins has until now been unknown.
Research in the group of Kiyoshi Nagai in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division has for the first time provided detailed information on the structure and role of proteins at the active site of the spliceosome, which is responsible for the excision of introns from messenger-RNA (mRNA) precursors in the nucleus.
The spliceosome is a large and dynamic RNA-protein assembly.
Many processes in biology rely on the relative position and orientation of interacting molecules. However, because of their small size and the constant thermal fluctuations that they experience in solution, molecules are very difficult to observe and control. In the field of nano-technology, researchers have developed a technique to construct nano-scaled 3D objects out of DNA.
Katja Röper, Independent Investigator Scientist in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, has discovered a key mechanism of tissue and organ formation in fruit flies that might also apply in vertebrates.
Many organs in both vertebrates and invertebrates, such as the gut, liver, kidney, vasculature and lung, are tubular in structure. The formation of tubular structures through processes collectively called tubulogenesis is a key process of organ formation in all animals.
The proteasome is essential for the controlled degradation of a large number of unwanted or damaged proteins in all cells and thereby controls virtually every cellular process. While it has long been known that inhibition of proteasome degradation is lethal, the underlying mechanisms have remained elusive.
Anne Bertolotti’s group, in the LMB’s Neurobiology Division, have discovered that proteasome inhibition causes a lethal amino acid imbalance in yeast, mammalian cells and Drosophila.
LMB scientists, Chris Tate and Yoko Shibata, have collaborated with researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, to provide the first detailed description of how a neuropeptide hormone, neurotensin, interacts with its receptor.
Neurotensin modulates nerve cell activity in the brain. When bound to its receptor it commences a series of reactions in nerve cells, and is involved in temperature regulation, pain and digestive processes.
New research, from John Sutherland and Dougal Ritson in the LMB’s PNAC division, delivers a breakthrough in the chemistry of the origin of life. Whilst some maintain that life formed elsewhere in the Universe and was transported to earth, the duo’s findings, published in Nature Chemistry, suggest that the genetic material essential for all known life originated from nothing more than our primitive planet’s atmosphere and the minerals on its surface.
One of the most commonly mutated genes in human cancers is the lipid kinase PIK3CA (phosphoinositide 3-kinase alpha). Mutations can activate this enzyme, resulting in proliferation of tumour cells and resistance to programmed cell death or apoptosis.
New research shows that acetaldehyde, the breakdown product generated when the body removes alcohol, causes irreversible damage to the DNA of stem cells in the body’s ‘blood cell factory’ – the bone marrow.
The research, published in Nature, was carried out by a team of scientists led by KJ Patel in the LMB’s PNAC Division.
In the past few years, the ability to incorporate unnatural amino acids into proteins has begun to have a direct impact on the ability of scientists to study biological processes that are difficult or impossible to address by more classical methods.
New research, led by members of Jason Chin’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division, has for the first time focused on expanding the genetic code of a complex multicellular organism, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.