Family planning for mosquitoes. Smart females the world over try to avoid giving
birth in places where predators lurk. From an evolutionary
perspective, such logic would be likely rewarded within a species.
Surprisingly, however, few studies have sought to test for such
behavior in a natural habitat.
The dendritic blame game. People with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections
typically lack the CD8 T lymphocyte immune cells that fight off the
virus. For this reason, many scientists who study HCV have
concluded that immune system dendritic cells, which
“train” CD8 T lymphocytes, must be defective in people
unable to clear HCV.
The shape of cell death. Scientists in Milton Werner’s Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics have
identified and described the surface at the heart of the
death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) that initiates one type of
programmed cell death. When cell death is triggered, several
components come together to form the DISC at the cell’s
Journal of Biological Chemistry, January 2004.
Accounting for misclassified genes. Studies that seek to associate genes with specific
traits rely on scientists correctly identifying which organisms
display the trait being studied. But when misclassifications occur
there is often no way to correct them. Derek Gordon, a research
assistant professor in Jürg Ott’s Laboratory of Statistical Genetics, has now
figured out, statistically, how much damage such genotyping errors
occur when errors are ignored.
Genetic Epidemiology, January 2004.
New schizophrenia gene ID’d. A new cellular pathway, identified by Maria Karayiorgou, head
of the Laboratory of Human Neurogenetics, may help explain how
schizophrenia develops. Karayiorgou, working with colleagues at
Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, found
decreased levels of the protein Akt1 in the brains of deceased
schizophrenia patients as well as in the blood of living
individuals with schizophrenia — and they identified a
particular form of the Akt1 gene that increases an
individual’s risk of developing the illness. The researchers
also found an increase in the activation of a protein called
GSK3beta, which forms a molecular pathway with Akt1.
Controlling fat. Leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells, has been highly
successful in treating diabetes, insulin resistance and fatty liver
degeneration associated with lipodystrophy in lab mice and humans.
Lipodys-trophy is a condition characterized by a disruption in the
way the body produces, uses and distributes fat.
Journal of Clinical Investigation, February 2004.
February 27, 2004
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