Heidelberg, 10 August 2016 Life in the periphery In a study published in Cell Press, Bernhard Hampoelz and colleagues from the Beck and Schwab groups at EMBL solve the mystery of how fruit fly embryos rapidly grow without risking damage to their genetic material. The answer, according to Beck, is a huge storage of pre-made pore structures waiting outside the nucleus, revealed thanks to FIB-SEM microscopy, an advanced 3D imaging technique.
Hamburg, 8 August 2016 Blocking the waste disposal unit Cancer cells are more dependent on a cellular garbage disposal unit – the proteasome – than healthy cells, and cancer therapies take advantage of this dependency. The Schneider group at EMBL Hamburg and colleagues at MPI Göttingen have now succeeded in determining the 3D structure of the human proteasome in unprecedented detail and have deciphered the exact mechanism by which inhibitor drugs block the proteasome. Their surprising results, published in Science, will pave the way to develop more effective treatments.
Heidelberg, 4 August 2016 The force is strong with embryo cells For a cell in an embryo, the secret to becoming part of the baby’s body instead of the placenta is to contract more and carry on dancing, scientists in the Hiiragi and Nédélec labs at EMBL have found. The study, published today in Nature, could one day have implications for assisted reproduction.
Heidelberg, 14 July 2016 How new HIV drugs lock virus in immaturity A new type of HIV drug currently being tested works in an unusual way, scientists in the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit, a collaboration between EMBL and Heidelberg University Hospital, have found. Led by John Briggs at EMBL and Hans-Georg Kräusslich at Heidelberg University Hospital, they also discovered that when the virus became resistant to early versions of these drugs, it did not do so by blocking or preventing their effects, but rather by circumventing them. The study, published online in Science, presents the most detailed view yet of part of the immature form of HIV.
Hinxton, 7 July 2016 Anatomy of a decision: mapping early development In the first genome-scale experiment of its kind, researchers have gained new insights into how a mouse embryo first begins to transform from a ball of unfocussed cells into a small, structured entity. Published in Nature, the single-cell genomics study was led by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust–MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. Thanks to advances in single-cell sequencing, the team was able to analyse over 1000 individual cells of gastrulating mouse embryos. The result is an atlas of gene expression during very early, healthy mammalian development.
Heidelberg, 30 June 2016 Welcome: Alba Diz-Muñoz The Diz-Muñoz group plans to explore how mechanical properties affect the movement of immune cells or cells in a zebrafish embryo. Working at the interface between physics and biology, they will investigate how cell behaviour and signalling cascades inside the cell are influenced by factors like the forces the cell is subjected to, or the ones it generates. Diz-Muñoz reveals the tool that drove her into this field, who she would like to collaborate with, and how she views her new role. "I want to help my people find and follow their own paths," she says.
Heidelberg, 14 June 2016 How cells bag their rubbish The buildup of protein deposits in cells is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “A protein accumulates in neurons, neurons die, and patients gradually lose brain functions,” says Carsten Sachse from EMBL. “If the process by which the cell removes those proteins can be enhanced, then you might be able to prevent that disease progression.” Before scientists can give the cell’s rubbish collectors a boost, they have to understand how the system works. In a paper recently published in EMBO Reports, Sachse and his lab drew on expertise from colleagues throughout EMBL to do just that.
Grenoble, 7 June 2016 Partnership for Structural Biology: strength in diversity The Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB) brings together researchers working at various institutes based at the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) science campus in Grenoble. Through the PSB, researchers based at EMBL, ILL, ESRF, and the Institut de Biologie structural (IBS) can collaborate with and access resources and expertise from all institutes. The PSB agreement was renewed for five more years in February 2016, strengthening the position of EMBL and the other members of the Grenoble-based partnership as leaders in protein studies.
Heidelberg, 20 May 2016 Making cells move towards the light An airplane leaving a lit-up runway is not the image you’d expect to see on the cover of a scientific journal, but there it is on this month’s issue of Cell Chemical Biology. Inspired by a study from Carsten Schultz’s lab, the image draws on the idea of using light to direct movement. The scientists developed a new way to switch on a lipid called LPA, which many cells – including cancer cells – are known to move towards. They manipulated this molecule so that it only becomes active when they shine a light on it. With this new method, researchers can make cells move towards a particular place, by flipping a switch.
Heidelberg, 17 May 2016 Unexpected link in protein production I shared a room at a conference in Baeza, Spain, in November 2013 with Zoltan Villanyi from the University of Geneva. As we sat in the same talks, we quickly found that we had the same questions for speakers, and discovered that we’d been given spots next to each other during the poster presentation – that’s where we got really interested in each other’s work. We stayed in touch, and began to work together the following month, exchanging a few RNA samples for sequencing. From there, the collaboration bloomed. In the end, what we found – and recently published in Cell Reports – was quite surprising.