Research Advances Understanding of Wound Healing, Cancer Metastasis, and Embryonic Development

By studying cellular movements at the level of both the individual cell and the collective group, applied physicists have discovered that migrating tissues flow very much like colloidal glass.  

Cells often move from one part of the body to another. In a developing embryo, for example, cells in the three germ layers have to arrange themselves spatially so that the cells that will become skin are all on the outside. Similarly, as a cancerous tumor expands, the cells proliferate and push others aside. In wound healing, too, new cells have to move in to replace damaged tissue.   Read more about the research revealing how cells move – and why they stop moving – in PNAS.

Recommended Readings: Craig Thompson, M.D.

Friday Lecture Series

Philip Levine Memorial Lecture

Metabolic Inputs into Cancer Epigenetics

Craig Thompson, M.D., president and chief executive officer,

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

February 25, 2011

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

Caspary Auditorium

Dang, L., D. W. White, S. Gross, B. D. Bennett, M. A. Bittinger, E. M. Driggers, V. R. Fantin, et al. 2009. Cancer-associated IDH1 mutations produce 2-hydroxyglutarate. Nature 462, (7274): 739-744

DeBerardinis, R. J., J. J. Lum, G. Hatzivassiliou, and C. B. Thompson. 2008. The biology of cancer: Metabolic reprogramming fuels cell growth and proliferation. Cell Metabolism 7, (1): 11-20

DeBerardinis, R. J., N. Sayed, D. Ditsworth, and C. B. Thompson. 2008. Brick by brick: Metabolism and tumor cell growth. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 18, (1): 54-61

Jones, R. G., and C. B. Thompson. 2009. Tumor suppressors and cell metabolism: A recipe for cancer growth. Genes and Development 23, (5): 537-548

Thompson, C. B. 2009. Metabolic enzymes as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. New England Journal of Medicine 360, (8): 813-815

Ward, P. S., J. Patel, D. R. Wise, O. Abdel-Wahab, B. D. Bennett, H. A. Coller, J. R. Cross, et al. 2010. The common feature of leukemia-associated IDH1 and IDH2 mutations is a neomorphic enzyme activity converting α-ketoglutarate to 2-hydroxyglutarate. Cancer Cell 17, (3): 225-234

New Protein Molecules “Addressed” for Delivery to Cell Membrane

Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, researchers at Umeå University in Sweden show how this interaction works.

Immune System: What Do Natural (Born) Killers Really Do?

Experiments to investigate the function of Natural Killer (NK) cells have proven difficult to interpret because the interactions between the various components of the immune system make it almost impossible to isolate effects of individual cell types.  This has changed with the development of a mouse in which individual genes can be knocked out (eliminated) only in NK cells, thereby providing scientists with a tool to study the importance of NK cells and indeed of individual pathways in these cells. The new mouse can be used to knock out any gene completely and exclusively in NK cells. It thus permits researchers to examine the functions of NK cells in the entire organism or even to investigate the importance of individual genes in this particular cell-type.   It is finally possible to learn what NK cells actually do in an intact organism.   Read more in BLOOD.

Recommended Readings: Nina Papavasiliou PhD Feb 28, 2011

Monday Lecture Series

Decoding the Genome: A Modified View

Nina Papavasiliou PhD

 Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology

February  28, 2011

4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Caspary Auditorium


Recommended Readings:

Greenfield, A.; Madar A.; Ostrer, H.; et al. 2010.  DREAMS: combining genetic and dynamic information to identify biological networks and dynamical models.  PLoS One.  5(10):e13397

Fisher, S.  2010. Not beyond reasonable doubt: Howard Temin’s Provirus Revisited.  Journal of the History of Biology.  43(4):661-695

Wager, RH and E. Danchin.  2010.  A taxonomy of biological informationOikos.  119(2):203-209.

Bai, L. and A.V. Morozov.  2010.  Gene regulation by nucleosome positioning.   Trends in Genetics.  26(11):476-483.

Rich, A.  2009.  The era of RNA awakening: structural biology of RNA in the early years.  Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics.  42(2):117-137.     Please request from Markus Library.

Andrecut, M.; Foster, D. and H. Carteret.   2009.  Maximal information transfer and behavior diversity in random threshold networks Journal of Computational Biology.  16(7):909-916.

Thaler, D.S.  2009.  The cytoplasmic structure hyposthesis for ribosome assembly, vertical inheritance, and phylogenyBioEssays. 31(7):774-783.

Lenaerts, T.; Schymkowitz, J. and F. Rousseau.  2009.  Protein domains as information processing unitsCurrent Protein & Peptide Science.  10(2):133-145    Please request from Markus Library.

Mansfield, K. D. and J. D. Keene.  2009.  The ribonome: a dominant force in co-ordinating gene expression.  Biology of the cell.  101(3):169-181   Please request from Markus Library.

Karafyllidis, I. G.  2008.  Quantum mechanical model for information transfer from DNA to Protein.  Biosystems.  993(3):191-198.    Please request from Markus Library.

Recommended Readings: Joshua Greene, Ph.D.

Friday Lecture Series

Integrative Moral Cognition

Joshua Greene, Ph. D., assistant professor,

Harvard University

February 18, 2011

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

Caspary Auditorium


Greene, J., and J. Cohen. 2004. For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 359, (1451): 1775-1785

Greene, J. D., S. A. Morelli, K. Lowenberg, L. E. Nystrom, and J. D. Cohen. 2008. Cognitive load selectively interferes with utilitarian moral judgment. Cognition 107, (3): 1144-1154

Greene, J. D., L. E. Nystrom, A. D. Engell, J. M. Darley, and J. D. Cohen. 2004. The neural bases of cognitive conflict and control in moral judgment. Neuron 44, (2): 389-400

Greene, J. D., and J. M. Paxton. 2009. Patterns of neural activity associated with honest and dishonest moral decisions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (30): 12506-12511

Greene, J. D., R. B. Sommerville, L. E. Nystrom, J. M. Darley, and J. D. Cohen. 2001. An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science 293, (5537): 2105-2108

President’s NIH Proposed Budget Highlights Genomics, Translational Efforts

In The National Institutes of Health’s $31.83 billion budget proposal for 2012, NIH Director Francis Collins said the institute plans to focus much of its efforts on leveraging new genomics technologies in disease and health research and translational science, and in pursuing goals in personalized medicine.

Collins said the funding, an increase of 2.4 percent over the most recent budget to pass (2010), “will enhance NIH’s ability to support research that prolongs life, reduces disability, and strengthens the economy.”

The White House yesterday unveiled its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 — a plan aimed at cutting spending in general by trimming in targeted areas, but which includes moderate increases for funding and supporting research and development.

Research-oriented groups appreciated that the President and his budget team spared science funding while making cuts to other programs.

Nature Looks back at 2010: a Dramatic Year in Science

 The Deepwater Horizon went up in flames in the Gulf of Mexico and a US court unexpectedly suspended all federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Meanwhile, the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, unveiled a ‘synthetic cell’ and reports of arsenic-based life sparked controversy. Nature looks back at a dramatic year in science.

The Use of siRNA Techniques To Silence HIV

Prof. Jyoti Chattopadhyaya from Uppsala University and colleagues from India have synthesised modified siRNAs targetting the TAR region of HIV-1, some of which exhibit a four-fold enhanced half-life in serum over the native unmodified siRNA. The best compound synthesised had an IC50 more than three-fold lower than that of the native and two-fold lower than that of the existing locked nucleic acid (LNA) modified counterpart.  The strategy to chemically modify the native siRNAs by substitution with the jcLNA can be considered as a significant development, leading to both enhanced siRNA efficiency and serum stability over that of the native.  Read more in MedChemComm.

New Antibiotics Repair Faulty Genes

Graphical abstract: Repairing faulty genes by aminoglycosides: Identification of new pharmacophore with enhanced suppression of disease-causing nonsense mutations