A wolf in sheep’s clothing: plague bacteria reveal one of their virulence tricks

The bacteria known as Yersinia, a family of pathogens that includes the plague, kill their host cells by — among other things — inserting proteins and other virulence factors that disrupt their normal structure. New research by Rockefeller University scientists shows at the atomic, cellular and organismal level that the cause of this disruption can be attributed largely to YpkA, a virulence factor that mimics proteins found in its host. More »

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Phosphorylation of WAVE1 protein remodels neuronal connections

In a paper that marks the 50th anniversary of Paul Greengard’s first Nature publication, Greengard, Yong Kim and their colleagues show how an interaction of several proteins alters neurons’ scaffolding to regulate the size and density of dendritic spines in the brain. More »

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A once maligned drug’s second-life as an immune booster

Revlimid, a derivative of the once villified drug thalidomide, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of certain blood diseases. Now, new research shows that Revlimid works by boosting the function of natural killer T cells. More »

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HIV protein acts as a solvent, releasing viral particles from the surface of their host cell

In the 17 years since the Vpu protein was shown to help HIV spread between cells, no clear theory has emerged to explain exactly how it works. But now, scientists at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) and Rockefeller University have uncovered a very specific role for Vpu: It works like a solvent to “unstick” viruses from the membrane of the cell that produced them, allowing them to be released and spread to adjacent cells. More »

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Chemical immunologist recruited to head new Rockefeller lab

A faculty search process begun last year has yielded its second successful recruit, the chemical immunologist Howard Hang, who will join Rockefeller University as assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Microbial Pathogenesis in early 2007. More »

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Protein linked to antibodies also has an antiviral function, researchers show

The ability to adapt is key to the immune system’s strength. Now, research shows that even old proteins sometimes take on new tasks. Rockefeller University scientists have found that AID, a protein known for its role in antibody diversity, also plays an antiviral role in B cells, a function it had long before antibodies evolved. More »

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Structural analysis of SpvB protein show how Salmonella bacteria hijack a cell

Salmonella and related bacteria disable proteins that a cell uses to create its structural framework. By solving the structure of Salmonella’s SpvB virulence protein and the actin molecules it modifies, Rockefeller University researchers show that the bacteria alter the cell’s actin proteins to prevent them from stacking together into filaments. More »

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Leprosy bacteria lead to new understanding of nerve damage and cell proliferation

Rockefeller University scientists using M. leprae bacteria have uncovered new molecular pathways that lead to the breakdown of the nerve fiber’s myelin sheath and to cell proliferation. The findings could teach scientists about how neurodegenerative diseases develop, and they may also have implications for regenerative medicine. More »

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Expression of ‘Blimp1’ gene leads to the discovery of cells responsible for skin’s sebaceous gland


New research from Elaine Fuchs’s lab examines how skin cells involved in oil production develop from a newly identified population of cells adjacent to the hair follicle. Their findings have implications for skin disorders such as acne and certain kinds of cancer, and may also provide clues to how stem cells control proliferation and differentiation. More »

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Rockefeller researchers receive Gates Foundation grant for HIV vaccine research

David Ho has received $24.7 million to lead a consortium of Rockefeller University investigators on a project that will attempt to design HIV vaccine candidates that specifically target dendritic cells. More »

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Scientists ID a single sugar that allows antibodies to fight inflammation

Rockefeller researchers have uncovered how a widely used yet little-understood therapy for autoimmune diseases like asthma and lupus works. The treatment, called IVIG, is effective because a small fraction of the antibodies it contains are affixed with a single sugar that gives the antibodies a protective, anti-inflammatory effect. And now that they understand how it works, they may be able to turn an adequate treatment into something that’s 100 times more effective and chemically pure. More »

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Evidence of rapid evolution is found at the tips of chromosomes

Humans like to think of themselves at the top of the evolutionary ladder, but new research from Titia de Lange’s lab at Rockefeller University shows that we may have slipped a few rungs in favor of a smaller, fuzzier mammal. While studying the role of a protein called POT1 in telomeres, de Lange’s lab found that mice have evolved ahead, expanding the one gene found in humans into two, each with a distinct function. Their research has important implications for the future of telomere biology. More »

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Nine Rockefeller labs to receive Stem Cell Initiative grants

The Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, comprising three leading New York City biomedical research institutions — Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University and Weill Medical College of Cornell University — has announced the first wave of stem cell research projects to be funded through a $50 million gift from The Starr Foundation. More »

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Twenty-eight degrees awarded at Rockefeller’s 48th convocation

Rockefeller University’s 48th Convocation, held yesterday, marked the completion of graduate studies for 28 students. Twenty-six of this year’s 28 graduates participated in a formal presentation of Ph.D.s held in Caspary Auditorium on the university’s Manhattan campus. President Paul Nurse and Chair of the Board Russ Carson presided over the ceremony. More »

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Human stem cells can contribute to a developing mouse embryo, despite evolutionary differences

A new line of human embryonic stem cells, created using private funds, has been coaxed to grow inside a developing mouse embryo, giving scientists the unique opportunity to observe as the undifferentiated cells replicate and specialize. The results offer a groundbreaking means of both elucidating the beginning of human embryonic development and serving as a starting point from which to understand their potential therapeutic secrets of human embryonic stem cells. More »

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Sound investment: A new mathematical method provides a better way to analyze noise

Even though the brain has only a small fraction of its sensory receptors dedicated to sound, the human auditory system is lightning fast — and researchers say that’s because the brain can perform a series of intricate calculations that translate minimal input into maximal understanding. In a potential breakthrough in sound analysis, Rockefeller researchers have now created an algorithm that mimics human auditory processing and is proving far more accurate than any other sound analysis program available. More »

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Insights into the spliceosome suggest new explanations for generating biological complexity

Many organisms — including humans — evolve in part by using a complex mechanism by which strands of RNA are spliced together in a two-step process. Rockefeller scientists show that a delicate balance in the way this process is executed can generate an enormous number of new gene products, providing a vast reservoir of material for selection during evolution. More »

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Natural products chemist to become Rockefeller’s newest lab head

Following a yearlong search process involving an applicant pool of close to 700 candidates, Rockefeller University President Paul Nurse has announced that Sean Brady, a chemical biologist with a background in organic chemistry, microbiology and plant biology, will become assistant professor and head of laboratory at Rockefeller. Brady intends to build his lab around the study of naturally occurring small molecules, such as those produced by soil bacteria and bacterial pathogens. More »

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New research retraces connections between nose and brain

Every second our noses are bombarded with hundreds of smells, some pleasant, others not. Before we can react, however, our brains must first recognize an odor, and there are multiple steps between the nose and the brain. Now scientists say that new evidence suggests that proteins that help link the two may not function the way they previously believed. More »

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Study of neurons leads scientists to re-envision vision

As we age, our eyes change shape — that’s why you see your eye doctor every year. But new research from Rockefeller University suggests that how the brain interprets visual information also changes with experience. And by studying the way in which nerve cells form connections between the eye and the brain, researchers say that some of their basic assumptions about the nature of visual development may need to be rethought. More »

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