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Discoveries Category

This is why we can’t have nice things: How influenza impairs the host defense

Jul. 11, 2019—By Deborah Roby The influenza virus prevents its own destruction and causes virulence by a newly discovered method. The non-structural protein 1 (NS1) of the influenza A virus allows disease proliferation by binding a protein that activates the host’s immune reaction. The lab of Yi Ren, in collaboration with researchers at various U.S. and Chinese...

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Study points to importance of chromatin remodeling complex for β cell function

Jun. 28, 2019—By Lorena Infante Lara Research from the labs of Roland Stein (Molecular Physiology & Biophysics) and Chris Wright (Cell & Developmental Biology) suggests that the chromatin remodeling complex Swi/Snf, when bound to transcription factor Pdx1, is required for controlling the growth rate of the embryonic pancreas and for maintaining β cell identity in the adult organ. Our...

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A New Target for a Deadly Childhood Cancer

Jun. 12, 2019—SWI/SNF is a multicomponent protein complex that plays an important role in chromatin remodeling. It is also likely an important tumor suppressor, as indicated by the fact that approximately 20% of human cancers carry a mutation in one or more SWI/SNF protein components. However, the exact mechanism by which these mutations contribute to cancer pathogenesis...

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Functional Insights Into a Major Drug-Resistance Transporter

May. 30, 2019—As a member of the class of ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporters, the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) harnesses energy from ATP hydrolysis to power conformational changes that transfer substrates across the cell membrane against a concentration gradient. P-gp transports more than 200 structurally diverse substrates, thereby playing a role in the pharmacokinetics of numerous drugs and toxicants, and...

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Taming the Fear Response

Apr. 30, 2019—Disorders arising from trauma and stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and they exact a huge economic toll on our society. Hence, a major effort is underway to find new treatments for these diseases. A clue to possible novel therapeutic targets comes from the observation that...

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A new framework for genome-wide association studies

Apr. 25, 2019—A multi-institutional team of researchers, led by Basic Sciences faculty member Bingshan Li (Molecular Physiology & Biophysics), has developed a new framework that can help researchers learn more from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) than previously was possible. Their work was published in Nature Neuroscience. The purpose of GWAS is to scan the genomes of many...

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Controling RNA Polymerase Dynamics

Mar. 22, 2019—The process of transcription is extremely complex, requiring the well-coordinated interactions of numerous modulatory proteins and protein complexes. Two key players in this process are cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)7 and CDK9, both of which phosphorylate multiple sites on RNA polymerase II (Pol II), the primary protein responsible for transcription in eukaryotes, as well as on other...

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Targeting the WIN Site of WDR5

Mar. 21, 2019—WDR5 serves as a scaffold for protein complexes containing epigenetic “writers” that catalyze histone modification reactions. Among the WDR5-dependent complexes are those encompassing MLL/SET-type histone methyltransferases (HMTs) responsible for di- and trimethylation of histone 3 at lysine-4 (H3K4). WDR5 contains a WIN (WDR interaction) site, which binds to an arginine-containing WIN motif on other proteins...

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In Search of Synergy

Mar. 15, 2019—In recent years, the number of complex diseases such as cancer and drug resistant infections that are treated with multiple drugs has rapidly increased. Through combining drugs, one hopes to obtain synergy either by increasing potency (so the desired effect can be achieved with lower drug doses) or increasing efficacy (so greater maximum effect can...

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Activation of ATR for Distinct Signaling Functions

Feb. 20, 2019—ATR (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated and Rad3-related) is a kinase well known for its role in the DNA damage and replication stress responses; however, it also is an important modulator of the cell cycle and mitosis. In mammalian cells, activation of ATR is mediated by two proteins, ETAA1 and TOPBP1, both of which associate with the kinase...

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