Newborns could benefit from time away from home, rodent study suggests

New research by Rockefeller University neurobiologists shows that newborn rats placed in a new environment — without their mother present — experience greater brain growth as adults than pups that remain in their home environment. Extrapolated to humans, the results suggest that children who receive childcare outside of their home environments might achieve better social and cognitive development. More »

Tags: , ,

A master repressor protein, Tcf3, holds stem cells back until the time is right

Tcf proteins are well known for their role in a pathway called Wnt that regulates communication between cells. But new research shows that these proteins also function when Wnt signaling is low or absent, and suggests that Tcf3 maintains multipotent skin stem cells throughout development and holds them back from differentiating in adults. Then, when those cells receive a Wnt signal, Tcf3 switches its role, and coaxes the cells to choose a fate. More »

Tags: , ,

Trash talk: Molecular conversations trigger cell suicide in yeast

For cells, like people, relationships are based on good communication. In yeast cells, however, scientists have shown that communication between certain molecules involved in gene regulation can trigger the cell’s suicide program, suggesting that molecular “crosstalk” may be an important mechanism by which cells respond to adverse events like cancer. More »

Tags: ,

Identification of carbon dioxide detectors in insects may help fight infectious disease

Blood-feeding insects, like mosquitoes, use the carbon dioxide in your breath to hone in on their targets. But, in a finding that could have implications for fighting infectious disease, new research from Rockefeller University pinpoints the molecules these insects use to detect carbon dioxide. More »

Tags: ,

New means of predicting populations more accurately accounts for random influences

By studying the ways of little jar-bound cannibals — tiny flour beetles who like to eat their young — scientists at Rockefeller University have created techniques they believe are the best yet to capture how random “noise” affects the dynamics of a biological population. More »

Tags: ,

Viral gene hijacks small RNA pathway as a counter-attack strategy

Every day plants are battling for survival against tiny viruses invading their cells. Small RNAs are a major part of the plant’s immune system, but viruses have devised counter-attack molecules that disable this line of defense. Research from Nam-Hai Chua’s laboratory has found a new mechanism for how a viral molecule causes the breakdown of the plant’s defense system. More »

Tags: , ,

Lederberg receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Emeritus Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel laureate who has served as an adviser to nine U.S. presidential administrations, receives the nation’s highest civilian award. More »

Tags: ,

Ion channels are key to estrogen’s effect on neurons

Despite being one of the body’s best-studied hormones, there’s still a lot we don’t know about estrogens. Now, by studying how these sex hormones impact brain cells at the biophysical level, scientists at Rockefeller University say they exert their powerful effects on behavior in part by affecting the speed at which ion channels in the cell membrane of a neuron open and close. More »

Tags: ,

Measuring awareness is not as simple as a single number

Science fiction describes the crucial difference between a robot and a person as sense of self. But for Rockefeller University’s George Reeke, computers — self or no self — do not yet begin to capture the complexity of the human mind. A new article by Reeke and his colleagues applies a theory developed by Gerald Edelman, formerly at Rockefeller and now at The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, to suggest that thinking of the brain as a computer is a dangerous oversimplification. The scientists propose that consciousness exists as a dynamic process that cannot be programmed in silicon. More »

Tags: ,

HIV-1 kills immune cells in the gut that may never bounce back

People with HIV have been living longer, healthier lives since the development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (or HAART) in 1995. In fact, most patients on the drug regimen do so well that, according to blood tests, their immune cells appear to return to pre-HIV levels. But two new studies from Rockefeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center show that within the gastrointestinal tract, recovery of immune cells is incomplete despite years of prolonged treatment, suggesting the need for additional ways to monitor immune system health, and the need for hypervigilance as HIV-positive patients live into their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond. More »

Tags: ,

Newly discovered class of small RNAs is specifically to reproductive cells

One size does not fit all when it comes to RNA. Scientists have now discovered a new player among the RNA cast that is specifically linked to sperm. Called piRNAs, these new small RNA strands are believed to play a major role in the development of the cells that pass genetic information from father to offspring. More »

Tags: ,

Structure shows how a key protein in gene activation is controlled

Using the structure of the protein σ28 bound to its inhibitor as inspiration, a new structural study finds that this gene activator can also inhibit itself from binding to and expressing the wrong gene at the wrong time. More »

Tags: , ,

Rockefeller lab show that Notch signaling is involved in multiple skin fate decisions

The Notch pathway, well known for its role in cell fate choice during embryonic development and hair follicle differentiation, now has an important role in epidermal development — controlling the early decision cells make to differentiate and form specialized layers of skin. More »

Tags: ,

Three Rockefeller scientists elected AAAS fellows

Arleen Auerbach, Cori Bargmann and Nathaniel Heintz are new fellows of the world’s largest general scientific society. More »

Tags: , , ,

In mice, a new statistical analysis shows a sex hormone influences a drive to explore

Exhaustive searching may not guarantee a compatible mate, but that doesn’t stop most people from trying. Now, new research from Rockefeller University suggests that estrogens may be a driving force. More »

Tags: , , ,

Dendritic cells stimulate cancer-cell growth

Since their discovery at Rockefeller University some 30 years ago, dendritic cells have been recognized as key players on the immune-system team, presenting antigens to other immune cells to help them respond to novel insults. Now, Rockefeller scientists have shown that dendritic cells also have other, non-immune actions, and may in fact directly modify the biology of some types of cancer cells. More »

Tags: ,

New gene-slicing method targets specific areas of the brain

To understand the role any one gene plays in an organism, scientists rely on knockout mice: They breed a mouse that lacks the gene they are interested in, then observe the effects. But a new method which uses viruses and small strands of RNA, developed by Rockefeller University scientists, offers a faster and more effective way to link genes to specific behavior. More »

Tags: , ,

New look at world’s forests shows many are expanding

A new formula to measure forest cover suggests that an increasing number of countries and regions are transitioning from deforestation to afforestation, raising hopes for a turning point for the world as a whole. More »

Tags: , ,

Living cells prosper without telomeres


In most cells, telomeres are a critical protection against death: If these caps at the ends of chromosomes fail, the cell’s life is cut short. But what’s true for most cells isn’t true for all cells, and a surprising new finding from Rockefeller University shows that cells in the livers of living mice have the remarkable ability to function without telomeres. More »

Tags: ,

American Chemical Society to recognize breakthrough 1963 chemistry discovery

In 1963, Bruce Merrifield was the sole author of a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society describing a new method for the chemical synthesis of peptides, biological molecules comprised of short stretches of amino acids. Rockefeller University will be honored Monday with the Citation for Chemical Breakthroughs for Merrifield’s Nobel-winning work. The presentation is part of a daylong scientific symposium remembering the life and achievements of Bruce Merrifield. More »

Tags: