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Heidelberg, 18 June 2015 EMBL Scientists solve decades-old cell biology puzzle Ori Avinoam, working across the Briggs and Kaksonen groups, has helped solve a question that has puzzled cell biologists for decades – how does the protein machine that allows cells to swallow up molecules during endocytosis function? Opinion was split between two different models, but a new paper published in Science demonstrates that the surface area of the clathrin coat does not change during endocytosis, only its curvature changes as it draws the cell membrane inwards.
Heidelberg, 15 June 2015 Dancing with the cells The same kind of contraction that fires our muscles also controls a key stage of mammalian embryo development, according to a new study published in Nature Cell Biology. The research, conducted at EMBL Heidelberg, measured and mapped how cells in very early stage embryos bond tightly together. The scientists also discovered a cellular behaviour that hadn’t been observed before: cells in the embryo ‘dance’, each one making the same rhythmic movement.
Heidelberg, 4 June 2015 Decaying RNA molecules tell a story Once messenger RNA (mRNA) has done its job – conveying the information to produce the proteins necessary for a cell to function – it is no longer required and is degraded. Scientists have long thought that the decay started after translation was complete and that decaying RNA molecules provided little biological information. Now a team from EMBL Heidelberg and Stanford University led by Lars Steinmetz has turned this on its head. The researchers have shown that one end of the mRNA begins to decay while the other is still serving as a template for protein production. Thus, studying the decaying mRNA also provides a snapshot of how proteins are produced.
Heidelberg, 21 May 2015 Planktonic world: the new frontier On May 22, in a special issue of Science, an international, interdisciplinary, team of scientists maps the biodiversity of a wide range of planktonic organisms, exploring their interactions - mainly parasitic, and how they impact and are affected by their environment, primarily the temperature. Based on a portion of the 35000 samples collected from all the world’s oceans during the 2009-2013 expedition on board the schooner TARA, this data provides the scientific community with unprecedented resources, including a catalogue of several million new genes, that will transform how we study the oceans and assess climate change.
Heidelberg, 21 May 2015 A nucleus can sense the space inside the cell Like the stone in a fruit, nucleus size scales with cell size – in healthy cells at least – so that the nucleus can’t take up the whole space inside the cell. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms behind that controlled growth have never been fully understood. Scientists at EMBL Heidelberg demonstrate today in Developmental Cell that the space surrounding a growing nucleus – not the overall volume of the cell – is also a crucial factor in regulating how fast the nucleus grows. They also show that the motor protein dynein and so called ‘microtubules’ which are part of the cytoskeleton are involved in this process.
Grenoble, 21 May 2015 It runs in the family Researchers in EMBL Grenoble unveil the first detailed 3D-structure of the replication machinery – polymerase – of the La Crosse orthobunyavirus (LACV), a virus which can cause human encephalitis. LACV is in the same broad group of viruses as influenza and the findings show that the LACV polymerase has striking similarities to influenza virus polymerase whose atomic structure was previously determined by the same team. The findings open up the possibility of quicker routes to developing treatments for the diseases these viruses cause.
Heidelberg, 20 April 2015 How cells have got molecules surrounded Ground-breaking microscopy techniques have enabled scientists at EMBL Heidelberg to shed new light on how cells perform endocytosis – a function that is key to many cellular processes, such as ingesting nutrients and cell-signalling. The process of endocytosis generates bubble-like membrane vesicles that surround the molecules to be ingested and move them from the cell surface into the cell. In this study, published in Developmental Cell, a cross-disciplinary team from five research groups at EMBL and the European XFEL demonstrates the significance of a particular type of proteins, called clathrin adaptor proteins, to the process.
Heidelberg, 16 March 2015 New technique to chart protein networks in living cells A new approach for studying the behaviour of proteins in living cells has been developed by an interdisciplinary team of biologists and physicists in the Cell Biology and Biophysics Unit, the Ellenberg Laboratory and the Advanced Light Microscopy Facility at EMBL Heidelberg. Described in a new study, published today in Nature Biotechnology, the approach allows scientists for the first time to follow the protein networks that drive a biological process in real time.
Hinxton, 11 March 2015 Ewan Birney and Rolf Apweiler appointed Joint Directors of EMBL-EBI Dr Ewan Birney and Dr Rolf Apweiler have been appointed Joint Directors of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) as Professor Dame Janet Thornton steps down after 14 years in post. They will assume their new roles with effect from 1 July 2015. Drs Birney and Apweiler have both enjoyed long and distinguished careers at EMBL-EBI, and were appointed Joint Associate Directors in 2012. As Joint Directors, they will share responsibility for all aspects of EMBL-EBI, including services, research, training, industry engagement and European coordination. Dr Birney and Professor Thornton will continue to lead their respective research groups.
Heidelberg, 19 February 2015 Better together A paper published today in the journal PLoS Pathogens by scientists at EMBL Hamburg and collaborators demonstrates the power of bringing together specialists in different areas to tackle complex problems. By joining forces, the multidisciplinary team uncovered a surprise about the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
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