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.