Viral locksmith is caught in the act

How does the molecular machine responsible for activating genes choose which gene to switch on, from among the 30,000 genes contained in each cell of the human body? In the August 4 issue of the EMBO Journal, researchers at Rockefeller University report that they are beginning to answer that question in bacteria, and the answers are not only surprising, but may also aid in the development of powerful new antibiotics. More »

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Rockefeller University establishes stem cell research center

With the support of a $5 million endowment donated by New York City philanthropist Harriet Heilbrunn, The Rockefeller University has established the Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Center for Stem Cell Research. More »

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Through population screening on the island of Kosrae, Rockefeller scientists discover a mutant gene that controls dietary cholesterol absorption

Using DNA from 1,000 inhabitants of the Micronesian island of Kosrae, Rockefeller University scientists have discovered a mutant gene that affects an individual’s absorption of dietary cholesterol. The findings are reported in the Journal of Lipid Research. The researchers hope their discovery will help tease apart the tangle of genes that control cholesterol absorption, one of the factors that contributes to high blood cholesterol levels, which are a major risk factor for heart attacks. More »

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Preparing for a safe split

As it prepares to divide, a human cell makes exact copies of all of its 46 chromosomes, so that the two daughter cells each can have a complete set of genetic material. The two sets must separate equally, otherwise the new cells end up with the wrong number of chromosomes. Such problems are common in cancer cells, and have been linked to several types of birth defects. More »

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Activation of tumor suppressor gene p53 much more complex than previously believed

It’s the biochemist’s twist on the old light bulb jokes: how many proteins does it take to activate a gene? Scientists in Robert Roeder’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rockefeller University now know that, at least for gene activation by the tumor suppressor p53, the answer is as many as five — and perhaps more — proteins for a single early step in this process. The researchers also provide the first direct evidence that chemical changes to DNA packaging proteins called histones regulate transcription, or activation, of p53 and other target genes, a finding that has major implications for the treatment of human diseases, including cancer. More »

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Lab mice rescued from Type 1 diabetes via dendritic cell-assisted therapy

Rockefeller University researchers have for the first time demonstrated a halting of early Type 1 diabetes in mice by restoring a critical class of T cells to their normal balance. The findings prove an important biological principle that could lead to prevention of Type 1 diabetes in humans: autoimmunity can be reversed if the immune system’s mechanisms for tolerance — recognition and acceptance of the body’s own cells — can be repaired. More »

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Cell growth and death controlled by a single pathway in lymphoma cancer model

New research at Rockefeller University, published this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps explain why some people do not respond to chemotherapy and offers a possible solution. More »

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Molecular image of genotoxin reveal how bacteria damage human DNA

The three-dimensional structure of a DNA-damaging, bacterial toxin has been visualized by scientists at Rockefeller University. The molecular image of the toxin, published in the May 27 issue of the journal Nature, shows exactly how the toxin is put together at the molecular level and damages human DNA. The structure also could help scientists to design new drugs to fight the wide variety of bacteria that use this toxin. More »

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Newly discovered gene controls levels of “bad” cholesterol in mice

Heart disease researchers at Rockefeller University have discovered the function of a gene associated with high cholesterol levels in humans. Using mice as test subjects, the Rockefeller scientists determined that the gene, called Pcsk9, can decrease the number of receptors on liver cells that remove the “bad” LDL cholesterol from the blood. More »

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Brain visualized in real time as animal “smells”

In real time in a living animal, scientists have observed regions of the brain as they respond to odors. The Rockefeller University study with mice, reported as the cover story in the April 8 issue of the journal Neuron, promises to advance research on how animals, as well as humans, sense odors. More »

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Fat hormone leptin alters brain architecture and activity, which in turn shapes feeding behavior

Scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University in collaboration with investigators at Yale University have found that leptin – a hormone found in fat tissue and critical to regulating weight – affects both the architecture and function of neural circuits in the brain. The hormone alters the wiring by controlling synapses – the inputs and outputs to neurons that, in this case, regulate feeding behavior. More »

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Mouse produced from cloning a single neuron yields answers about the genetics of olfaction

Scientists led by Rockefeller’s Peter Mombaerts, M.D., Ph.D., used cloning technology to produce an entire mouse from the DNA in just one of the animal’s olfactory neurons. They then traced the spread of that neuron’s nucleus as the mouse embryo developed and eventually as the mouse itself grew. More »

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Rockefeller University scientists take on controversial and widely publicized “vibration theory” of smell

Two researchers at Rockefeller University have put a controversial theory of smell to the sniff test and have found no evidence to support it. They say their study, published in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, should raise firm doubts about the validity of “vibration theory,” which states that molecules in each substance generate a specific vibration frequency that the nose can interpret as distinct smells. More »

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Immunity runs amok without Csk

Inflammation is emerging as a new window on chronic diseases such as cancer, heart ailments and autoimmunity. Two Rockefeller University scientists have recently revealed one of the molecular keys to inflammation. Their discovery may help clinicians understand shortcomings in the inflammatory response that lead to potentially life-threatening conditions. More »

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Rockefeller researchers identify how protein linked to cancer correct cells when they divide

A protein, which has been linked to tumor formation when it is overproduced, in normal amounts actually helps correct errors during cell division that can lead to cancer and other diseases, according to new research by scientists at Rockefeller University in the March issue of Nature Cell Biology. More »

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Biological clock scientist takes on VP for Academic Affairs position at Rockefeller University on March 1

Rockefeller University scientist Michael W. Young, who investigates the genetic pathways that enable the body’s biological clock to tick, will become Rockefeller University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs on March 1. More »

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Natural killer cells are made, not born

For years, scientists regarded natural killer cells as a blunt instrument of the body’s immune defense system. Born to kill, these cells were thought to travel straight from the bone marrow, where they are manufactured, to the blood, circulating there and infiltrating the sites of early tumors or infectious agents in the body. Now, Rockefeller University scientists, led by Christian Münz, Ph.D., have learned otherwise. More »

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Feeder-free system for maintaining embryonic stem cells pioneered at Rockefeller University

Rockefeller University researchers, in collaboration with two European scientists, have devised a system for maintaining human embryonic stem cell lines that excludes the need for troublesome mouse feeder cells.
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Internationally renowned neurobiologist to join Rockefeller University; Cori Bargmann discovered “matchmaker” molecule

Cornelia I. Bargmann, Ph.D., universally recognized as a scientific leader in research on how the circuitry of the brain is organized and influences behavior, will join The Rockefeller University, its President Paul Nurse, Ph.D., announced today. More »

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Scientists finally pry stubborn cellular door ajar

Imagine a door with key and combination locks on both sides, back and front. Now imagine trying to unlock that door blind-folded. This is the challenge faced by David Gadsby, Ph.D., and his Rockefeller University colleagues, who for years have struggled to understand the highly intricate and unusual cystic fibrosis chloride channel – a cellular doorway for salt ions that is defective in people with cystic fibrosis. More »