Heidelberg. Hinxton, 12 January 2017 Buffering mechanism protects embryonic development Researchers from EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany and EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, UK have pinpointed thousands of potentially functional genetic variants that disrupt gene regulation during embryonic development. The findings, published in Nature, reveal buffering mechanisms that cancel out detrimental effects of genetic variation during embryonic development.
Monterotondo, 9 January 2017 Neural connection keeps instincts in check From fighting the urge to hit someone to resisting the temptation to run off stage instead of giving that public speech, we are often confronted with situations where we have to curb our instincts. Scientists at EMBL have traced exactly which neuronal projections prevent social animals like us from acting out such impulses. The study, published online today in Nature Neuroscience, could have implications for schizophrenia and mood disorders like depression.
Grenoble, 21 December 2016 How flu steals your RNA New work by the Cusack group at EMBL published this week in Nature explains how the influenza virus’ transcription machine interacts with its counterpart in the host cell, offering new possibilities for anti-viral drug design. “We’ve uncovered the details of a mechanism that’s common to all influenza strains, so we believe this could be a good target for developing new flu drugs,” says Stephen Cusack.
Heidelberg, 21 December 2016 New insights into receptor balancing Research at EMBL suggests a new mechanism for managing the number of receptors at the cell’s plasma membrane. Receptors on a cell’s membrane detect cues in its environment, and often carry those cues into the cell, triggering chain reactions that enable the cell to respond. For the first time, EMBL scientists have shown an inducible link between the mechanism for degrading these receptors and the process of transporting newly synthesised receptors to the cell surface, to keep the right balance.
Hinxton, 20 December 2016 Happy anniversary, PDBe! EMBL-EBI is at the heart of open data in the life sciences, and hosts the European arm of the world’s longest-running molecular data resource: the Protein Data Bank (PDB). As the Protein Data Bank in Europe (PDBe) looks back on its 20th year in operation - and celebrates its annotation of the PDB's 25,000th structure today - Ewan Birney pays homage to some of its most intriguing tenants.
Heidelberg, 20 December 2016 Opinion: Fail again, fail better Iain Mattaj, EMBL’s Director-General, recalls how setbacks helped forge his scientific career. He shares the lessons he has learned, “‘Good’ failures are inevitable when you push in new research directions. In this sense, failure is not something to be afraid of – rather, it is part of a scientific adventure.”
Heidelberg, 16 December 2016 Structure of HIV capsid within virus visualised For the first time, the intricate structure of HIV capsid proteins has been visualised in the virus itself. Using subnanometre-resolution cryo-electron tomography, PhD student Simone Mattei looked inside individual HIV particles, showing just how the virus protects its genome.
Grenoble, 14 December 2016 High-Throughput Crystallography platform inaugurated A refurbished and upgraded High-Throughput Crystallography (HTX) platform has been launched on the European Photon and Neutron Science (EPN) Campus in Grenoble. The platform offers robotics for crystallisation of both soluble and membrane proteins and automated crystal harvesting thus promoting efficient structure determination by X-ray crystallography. The new HTX platform is a joint effort between EMBL Grenoble and the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS).
Monterotondo, 13 December 2016 Study offers approach to treating pain For many patients with chronic pain, any light touch – even just their clothes touching their skin – can be agony. The Heppenstall lab at EMBL and colleagues have found a possible new avenue for producing painkillers that specifically treat this kind of pain. In a study published online today in eLife, they discovered how the stiffness of our nerve cells influences sensitivity to touch and pain.
London, 7 December 2016 Cycle of life When Paul Nurse was a student in the 1960s, scientists knew that cells divided and make copies of themselves. Yet key questions remained a mystery: What controls these divisions? How is the copying of DNA initiated? What drives cells to divide? Gripped by these puzzles, Nurse, Chair of EMBL’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Secretary-General of EMBO, would go on to win a Nobel Prize for identifying crucial mechanisms underlying the cell division process. Yet things could have turned out very differently.