Insight on Research


Genetic code engineering in Drosophila melanogaster

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.

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New Insight on General Mechanism Behind Gene Expression

New research, resulting from a collaboration between two groups, led by Sarah Teichmann and Madan Babu, in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, advances our understanding of the interplay between the two most abundant classes of DNA binding proteins that are responsible for regulating physiological diversity in organisms.

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Research shows the power of exploiting publicly available data to reveal new principles in biology

A comprehensive investigation of several large-scale datasets, led by M. Madan Babu’s group in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, provides new insights into tissue-specific splicing – the mechanism responsible for increasing the functional diversity of proteins and for attaining tissue identity during development.

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Short evolutionary path from DNA to RNA polymerases revealed

New research, led by Philipp Holliger’s group in the LMB’s PNAC Division, has shed new light on the mechanism by which DNA polymerases – the enzymes responsible for replicating genomes in all animals, fungi and bacteria – are able to ensure faithful DNA replication while actively excluding damaged and/or non-cognate nucleotides from the genome.

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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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