Heidelberg, 17 September 2018 Solving the structure of retromer An international research team has published the full 3D structure of retromer: a molecular machine that sorts and packs cargo at the cell’s logistics hub. They used cryo-electron tomography to reveal the structure of the retromer complex, allowing a greater understanding of how this molecular machine works. To achieve this, researchers in John Briggs’ group – formerly at EMBL and now at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) – collaborated with scientists at the University of Queensland, the University of Cambridge, and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. They publish their findings in Nature on 17 September 2018.
Hamburg, 13 September 2018 X-rays reveal surprising shape of scaffolding protein While bioinformatics tools had suggested that the four domains of PDZK1 would behave like beads on a string, moving around in a highly flexible manner, X-ray experiments now show that PDZK1 actually has a relatively well-defined L-shaped conformation with only moderate flexibility. This discovery was led by EMBL Hamburg group leaders Dmitri Svergun and Christian Löw. The journal Structure publishes their results on 13 September 2018.
Heidelberg, 10 September 2018 First interactive model of human cell division Mitosis – how one cell divides and becomes two – is one of the fundamental processes of life. Researchers in the Ellenberg group at EMBL have now produced the first interactive map of proteins that make our cells divide, allowing users to track exactly where and in which groups the proteins drive the division process forward. This first dynamic protein atlas of human cell division was published in Nature on 10 September.
Hinxton, 30 August 2018 PhenoMeNal: an online portal for metabolomics An international collaboration between EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) - O'Donovan team - and 13 other partners has made large-scale metabolomics analyses easier with the launch of PhenoMeNal. This online portal allows researchers and clinicians to analyse large metabolomics datasets. For example, researchers can search for patterns in a patient’s data. They can then use the findings to improve the detection of disease and to help optimise treatment. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Hinxton, 23 August 2018 New approach for testing cancer drug response Researchers at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have used a large collection of cancer cell lines to systematically test the relevance of germline variants to explain differences in drug response. The analysis, which leveraged both inherited genetic variants and variants that are caused by the tumour, was applied to 993 cell lines and 265 drugs. Surprisingly, results, published in Nature Communications, showed that the germline contribution to differences in drug susceptibility can be just as important as the contribution of somatic mutations.
General, 17 August 2018 Open call for detector and imaging tech projects ATTRACT has launched an open call for seed funding to develop breakthrough ideas in detector and imaging technologies. The deadline is 31 October. ATTRACT aims to create a co-innovation ecosystem between fundamental research and industrial communities to develop breakthrough detection and imaging technologies for scientific and commercial uses. In the first phase of the project, €17m of seed funding is being released to develop concepts.
Heidelberg, 14 August 2018 Celebrating science Iain Mattaj, EMBL‘s Director General since 2005, will step down at the end of the year. While Iain’s departure is tinged with sadness, it is also reason to celebrate his and EMBL’s achievements, past and present. For three days in July, EMBL showcased the diversity of paths chosen by EMBL alumni in Career Day, explored research in creative ways during Lab Day, celebrated the successes of past colleagues with the Alumni Awards, gave a surprise-ridden and tearful farewell to Iain, and showed during the Summer Party that EMBL is not only an inspiring workplace, but a family-friendly one, too!