Phospholipids in the cell membrane help regulate ion channels

Though the cell membrane is a protective barrier, it also plays a role in letting some foreign material in — via ion channels that dot the cell’s surface. Now new research from the Nobel Prize-winning laboratory that first solved the atomic structure of several such channels shows that their function is controlled in part by a complex interaction between a channel’s voltage sensor and the cell membrane immediately adjacent to it. More »

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A chemotherapy drug packs a one-two punch

How cancer cells are killed could turn out to be an important element in activating a patient’s immune system. A new study shows that one chemotherapy drug may kill tumor cells in such a way that the immune system can recognize the cancerous cells and help fight the disease more effectively. More »

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New Fanconi anemia gene ID’d

An international team of researchers has uncovered the 13th gene to be associated with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disease linked to several types of cancer. The identification of the gene helps explain why some young patients develop early and lethal cancer, and also why relatives of these patients develop cancer in adulthood. More »

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Chromosome linked to cholesterol absorption

Using strains of mice that only differ from each other on a small area of one chromosome, researchers identify two sets of genes important for cholesterol absorption and excretion — the balance of which is a key contributor to coronary heart disease susceptibility. More »

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Scientists clone mice from adult skin stem cells

The potential of stem cells has so far gone largely untapped, despite the great promise that stem cells hold. But new research from Rockefeller University now shows that adult stem cells taken from skin can be used to clone mice using a procedure called nuclear transfer. More »

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Analysis of Chinese AIDs epidemic shows surprising patterns

The Chinese province of Yunnan was the country’s point of entry for HIV, and is the area in which the AIDS epidemic is most widespread. The viral mutations that exist in Yunnan are far more diverse than anywhere else in the country, and recent research suggests that HIV in China may be spread by sexual contact more quickly than anyone believed. The result: a new subtype of the virus that has the potential to jumpstart a new epidemic. More »

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With no plan for DNA replication, cells depend on random selection

New research in yeast from Rockefeller University shows that instead of going about DNA replication in an organized way, the cell takes a random approach, using a range of efficient and inefficient origins. The results leave scientists wondering how the cell ensures that the process is completed on time. More »

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First-ever images of a living immune structure shows B cells in action

When an infection strikes, B cells act as the immune system’s tag-and-release team, hunting down the invading pathogen with incredible accuracy and labeling it with antibodies that tell other immune cells to destroy it. Now, Rockefeller University researchers have found a way to peer inside the germinal centers where B cells learn to recognize their prey, and discovered that the structures are not closed factories, as most scientists previously believed, but are open, dynamic systems through which B cells continually pass. More »

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DNA breaks may help parasites elude the immune system

Changing their appearance helps many pathogens hide from detection. In the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, surface proteins recognized by the host’s immune system may be altered by the same process that repairs broken DNA. The key lies in T. brucei’s variant surface glycoproteins, which coat the parasite’s surface. More »

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Dendritic cell receptor may be the key to an HIV vaccine

Recent attempts to develop a vaccine have elicited only limited action from two immune system cells, helper T cells and killer T cells. But Rockefeller University scientists working on a new approach have evidence that targeting a third group of immune cells, dendritic cells, may be even more effective than they’d previously believed. Now new research shows that the dendritic cells’ DEC-205 receptor may be the key to making it work. More »

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Jeffrey Friedman to receive Kovalenko Medal

The National Academy of Sciences announced today that Rockefeller University scientist Jeffrey M. Friedman will receive the National Academy of Sciences’ Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal — a medal and prize of $25,000 awarded every three years for important contributions to the medical sciences. More »

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Preparing a multi-pronged attach: Different subsets of dendritic cells help expand the immune system’s response

Dendritic cells coordinate and direct the body’s immune response, playing a crucial role in our ability to fend off disease. In findings that give a boost to vaccine research, Rockefeller University scientists show that different types of dendritic cells process antigens differently. More »

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Researcher discover new cell death program

Though caspases are the accepted executioners of the cell world, new research shows that they may not be the only ones. By following the life, and death, of one cell, Rockefeller University researchers discover a new type of cell death. More »

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Plant ‘vaccines’ may combat viruses in crops

Plants possess several innate mechanisms to resist viruses, but many viruses are able to overcome these barriers. A new strategy developed by Rockefeller University researchers turns a plant regulatory pathway into an effective defense against infection. More »

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Viral detectives: Researchers track down the location of HIV-1 assembly in human cells

New research by Rockefeller University and ADARC scientists pinpoints the location of HIV-1 assembly in human immune cells. Although the assembly site had long been a topic of dispute, the researchers show conclusively that the virus is being built in the cells’ plasma membranes and not, as many had supposed, in internal cellular compartments called endosomes. More »

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Unfolded proteins may protect cells from dying

When proteins are not properly folded, cells become stressed to a point where they may die. But new research shows that a stress response pathway helps them cope with inhospitable environments, and it could lead to new therapies to fight disease. More »

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Cellular pathway yields potential new weapon in vaccine arsenal

When a cell has to destroy any of its organelles or protein aggregates, it envelopes them in a membrane, forming an autophagosome, and then moves them to another compartment, the lysosome, for digestion. Scientists knew that this process, called autophagy, sensitized cells for recognition by the immune system’s helper T cells. But new research shows that this pathway is so common that it could be a valuable new way of boosting vaccine efficacy. More »

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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