Link/Drug Target Established Between Oxidative Stress and Tissue Damage in Stroke

Oxidative stress has long been suspected to play a role in tissue damage after stroke,  but no study has ever clearly demonstrated a link between the two.   Now a group of researchers representing ten institutions and four countries describe a new potential therapeutic target for acute stroke in the latest issue of PLoS Biology. 

Recommended Readings: Charles Zuker, Ph.D.

Friday Lecture Series

Sweet, Bitter, Sour, Salty and Umami: The Receptors, Cells and Coding Logic for Mammalian Taste

Charles Zuker, Ph.D.

professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and of neuroscience,

Columbia University

October 1, 2010

3:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m. (Refreshments, 3:15 p.m., Abby Lounge)

Caspary Auditorium

Recommended Readings:

Chandrashekar, J., Kuhn, C., Oka, Y., Yarmolinsky, D. A., Hummler, E., Ryba, N. J. P., et al. (2010). The cells and peripheral representation of sodium taste in mice. Nature, 464(7286), 297-301.

Yarmolinsky, D. A., Zuker, C. S., & Ryba, N. J. P. (2009). Common sense about taste: From mammals to insects. Cell, 139(2), 234-244.

Mueller, K. L., Hoon, M. A., Erlenbach, I., Chandrashekar, J., Zuker, C. S., & Ryba, N. J. P. (2005). The receptors and coding logic for bitter taste. Nature, 434(7030), 225-229.

Zhao, G. Q., Zhang, Y., Hoon, M. A., Chandrashekar, J., Erlenbach, I., Ryba, N. J. P., et al. (2003). The receptors for mammalian sweet and umami taste. Cell, 115(3), 255-266.

Nelson, G., Hoon, M. A., Chandrashekar, J., Zhang, Y., Ryba, N. J. P., & Zuker, C. S. (2001). Mammalian sweet taste receptors. Cell, 106(3), 381-390.

Scripps Scientists Solve Long-Standing Mystery of Protein “Quality Control” Mechanism

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have solved a long-standing mystery of how cells conduct “quality control” to eliminate the toxic effects of a certain kind of error in protein production. The findings may lead to a better understanding of a host of neurodegenerative diseases.  The new study, published by NATURE online recently,  suggests how cells in eukaryotic organisms, like humans, sense and destroy “non-stop” proteins that remain stuck in the ribosome, the protein manufacturing plant of the cell.

Controlling Muscles with Light Impulses – “Optogenetics”

Rearchers at Stanford University have found a way to move muscles with pulses of light.  The study, published in Nature Medicine, describes what the researchers are calling “optogenetics” — a technology which uses light-sensitive proteins from a single-celled alga placed on the nerve and pulses of light to trigger muscle movement.  The researchers insert the gene for a protein called channelrhodopsin-2, which comes from green algae. Then when the neuron implanted with the gene is exposed to blue light, the protein starts a chain of electrical activity inside the cell which spreads to surrounding neurons.

Recommended Readings: Mario Halic, PhD Oct 11 2010

Monday Lecture Series

Dicer-independent Primal RNAs Trigger RNAi and Heterochromatin Formation

Mario Halic, Ph.D.,

Post Doctoral Fellow 

Department of  Cell Biology

Harvard Medical School

October 11, 2010

4:00 p.m.  Welch Hall Level Two


Recommended Readings:

Yang JS, Maurin T, Robine N, et al.  2010.   Conserved vertebrate mir-451 provides a platform for Dicer-independent, Ago2-mediated microRNA biogenesis.   PNAS   107(34):15163-15168   

Lee HC, Li LD, Gu WF, et al.  2010.  Diverse Pathways Generate MicroRNA-like RNAs and Dicer-Independent Small Interfering RNAs in Fungi.  MOLECULAR CELL   38 ( 6):803-814   

Cifuentes D, Xue HL, Taylor DW, et al.  2010.  A Novel miRNA Processing Pathway Independent of Dicer Requires Argonaute2 Catalytic Activity.   SCIENCE    328( 5986):1694-1698   

 Cheloufi S, Dos Santos CO, Chong MMW, et al.: 2010.  A Dicer-independent miRNA biogenesis pathway that requires Ago catalysis.   NATURE   465( 7298):584-

Halic M, Moazed D.  2010.   Dicer-Independent Primal RNAs Trigger RNAi and Heterochromatin Formation. CELL    140( 4):504-516  

Cao F, Li XZ, Hiew S, et al.  2009.  Dicer independent small RNAs associate with telomeric heterochromatin.  RNA-A PUBLICATION OF THE RNA SOCIETY    15(7):1274-1281.   Please request from Markus Library.

Kawamura Y, Saito K, Kin T, et al.  2008.  Drosophila endogenous small RNAs bind to Argonaute 2 in somatic cells.   NATURE   453(7196):793-U5

Klattenhoff C, Theurkauf W .  2008.  Biogenesis and germline functions of piRNAs.  DEVELOPMENT  135(1):3-

Recommended Readings: Tomasz Religa, PhD Oct 4 2010

Monday Lecture Series

The Gating Mechanism of an Archaeal Proteasome

Tomasz Religa, Ph.D.,

Post Doctoral Fellow 

Department of  Molecular Genetics

University of Toronto

October 4, 2010

4:00 p.m.  Welch Hall Level Two


Recommended Readings:

Baldwin AJ, Religa TL, Hansen DF, et al.  2010. (CHD2)-C-13 Methyl Group Probes of Millisecond Time Scale Exchange in Proteins by H-1 Relaxation Dispersion: An Application to Proteasome Gating Residue DynamicsJOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY    132(32):10992-10995   

Religa TL, Kay LE.  2010. Optimal methyl labeling for studies of supra-molecular systems .   JOURNAL OF BIOMOLECULAR NMR    47(3):163-169   

Religa TL, Sprangers R, Kay LE.  2010. Dynamic Regulation of Archaeal Proteasome Gate Opening As Studied by TROSY NMR.   SCIENCE    328(5974):98-102   

Marques AJ, Palanimurugan R, Matias AC, et al.  2009.  Catalytic Mechanism and Assembly of the Proteasome.  CHEMICAL REVIEWS    109(4):1509-1536 

Humbard MA, Zhou G, Maupin-Furlow JA .  2009. The N-Terminal Penultimate Residue of 20S Proteasome alpha 1 Influences its N-alpha Acetylation and Protein Levels as Well as Growth Rate and Stress Responses of Haloferax volcanii.   JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY    191(12): 3794-3803   

Bajorek M, Glickmann MH.  2004.  Ubiquitin-proteasome system – Keepers at the final gates: regulatory complexes and gating of the proteasome channel.   CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR LIFE SCIENCES  61(13): 1579-1588   

 Groll M, Brandstetter H, Bartunik H, et al.  2003.  Investigations on the maturation and regulation of archaebacterial proteasomes.   JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY    327(1): 75-83   

Scientific American’s Observations Blog Publishes Reuters Nobel Predictions

Check out Scientific American’s blog site announcement of September 21 for Thomson Reuter’s “short list” of contenders for this year’s Nobel prizes.  The Nobel’s are expected to be announced next month.   Both Jeffrey Friedman and Ralph Steinman are on Reuter’s list for the prize in Physiology or Medicine.    Dr. Friedman was recently announced as one of this year’s co-winners of the Lasker Award.

Livemocha(TM) Brings Language Learning Out of the Stone Age

Livemocha(TM), the world’s largest online language learning community, announced the launch of Livemocha Active Courses(TM), a set of ground-breaking online language courses for English, French, Italian, German and Spanish that promise conversational fluency through the combination of world-class course curriculum, personalized feedback from Livemocha Experts, and limitless practice with native speakers.

Designed with the help of leading language publishers Pearson and Harper Collins, the new Active Courses provide a set of online self-study courses that match or exceed the educational caliber of traditional textbook curriculum while integrating online community instruction to ensure the level of fluency that only practice with native speakers can bring. The Active Course offerings promise conversational fluency upon course completion and at a fraction of the cost of traditional language learning software.

Livemocha will continue to offer free, basic lessons in 38 languages including Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Farsi, Hindi and Ukrainian.

The Hunt for Blood Biomarkers to Diagnose Alzheimer’s

Attempts to find a lone biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease — whether it’s in blood, spinal fluid, or the brain — have largely failed.  The Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium project conducted a longitudinal case-control study, using stored blood samples to develop an algorithm that separates patients with Alzheimer’s disease from controls. The biomarker assays looked at hundreds of proteins, including thrombopoietin, TNF-alpha, creatine kinase, and various interleukins.  The his team focused on a large array of blood-based proteins, since assay technology has now made it possible to evaluate large amounts of data.   Screening for these biomarkers and factoring in age, sex, education, and APOE status led to a sensitivity of 0.94 and a specificity of 0.84,  as reported by Sid O’Bryant, PhD, of Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, and colleagues in the Archives of Neurology.   They also saw that many of the proteins with the highest importance were inflammatory in nature, which suggests that the existence of an inflammatory-related endophenotype of Alzheimer’s disease “may provide targeted therapeutic opportunities for this subset of patients.”