Hamburg, 2 July 2015 Building bridges with BioStruct-X Many pharmaceutical companies have traditionally used structural biology methods, such as crystallography, as a useful tool for studying novel drug molecules and understanding how they work. As technologies at synchrotron facilities develop, and approaches become more diverse, it is increasingly important to engage in discussion with industrial partners to reflect on their needs and inform them of new possibilities and service options. A recent workshop held in Hamburg aimed to create a platform for consultation, and strengthen relationships between industrial and academic partners.
Hinxton, 30 June 2015 Janet Thornton steps down On 24 June 2015, EMBL-EBI staff gathered to celebrate Janet Thorton’s 14 years as Director of the institute, as she prepares to hand over leadership to Rolf Apweiler and Ewan Birney on 1 July. At the centre of the event was a game, Handover on Data Mountain, where tables competed in a hands-on quiz – complete with 3D puzzles and ordnance maps – to earn enough points to scale Data Mountain and enable Rolf and Ewan to relieve Janet on the summit.
Heidelberg, 18 June 2015 EMBL Scientists solve decades-old cell biology puzzle Researchers at EMBL Heidelberg have solved 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.
Hamburg, 18 June 2015 The curious case of the bi-specific enzyme When Andrea Rentmeister from the University of Muenster came across an enzyme with curious bi-specific properties, she was eager to find out more about its molecular 3D structure. As a chemist with no expertise in protein crystalisation she turned to the Sample Preparation and Characterisation (SPC) facility at EMBL Hamburg for help crystallising the enzyme found in cyanobacteria – a group of photosynthetic bacteria that can cause toxic blooms in lakes in the summer. What started out as a shot in the dark, resulted in a crystal structure – shedding light onto this peculiar feature.
Hinxton, 16 June 2015 Large-scale genetic analysis made easier Researchers at EMBL-EBI have developed a new approach to studying the effect of multiple genetic variations on different traits. The new algorithm, published in Nature Methods, makes it possible to perform genetic analysis of up to 500,000 individuals – and many traits – at the same time.
General, 16 June 2015 Open access: transforming science EMBL scientists are funded by the public to produce top-notch research and the organisation’s open-access policy makes the resulting publications freely available to everyone to read. Furthermore, a Creative Commons with attribution (CC-BY) open-access licence enables innovation in text analytics and text mining, which will be vital to enable researchers to discover relevant content efficiently in an increasingly interdisciplinary environment.
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 in an article published in Cell. 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.
Grenoble, 22 May 2015 It runs in the family In an article published in Cell, researchers 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.