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Discoveries Category

Targeting NA to protect against lethal avian flu infection

Jan. 22, 2020—By Sohini Roy Asian lineage avian influenza virus (H7N9) is a subtype of influenza virus that can infect humans following exposure to live, infected poultry. There have been several outbreaks since the first reported case in China in 2013, and the mortality rate is as high as 39 percent. Although person-to-person transmission of the virus...

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Of mice and tailgaters: Identifying neural circuitry involved in binge drinking

Dec. 19, 2019—By Deborah Roby Researchers at the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, along with collaborators at MIT and Salk Institute, have determined a neurological pathway that may be used to determine a person’s susceptibility to compulsive alcohol consumption. Using a novel task they developed, the binge-induced compulsion task (BICT), Cody Siciliano (Pharmacology) and colleagues tracked individual differences...

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Fight or flight – Flexibly

Dec. 19, 2019—By Julia Thompson Fear is a crucial emotion for human survival. Without the ability to experience fear in response to possible threats in the environment, it is all too easy to end up in a dangerous situation. However, fear is only useful in moderation. When a stimulus is no longer associated with a threat, learning...

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Barring normal skin barrier formation

Dec. 10, 2019—By Suneethi Sivakumaran Human skin has three major layers: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin and serves as a waterproof protective barrier against pathogens and debris. At least 50 gene mutations can lead to defects in this layer and cause ichthyoses, a group of heterogeneous diseases that affect most...

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To B or not to B (mature)

Dec. 5, 2019—By Cassandra Awgulewitsch   Kristy Stengel, a postdoc in the laboratory of Scott Hiebert (Biochemistry), led an investigation into the role of histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) in the formation of B cell germinal centers using a powerful combination of RNA-seq, ChIP-exome sequencing, and other technologies in human cell and mouse models. This work, published in...

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Anatomy of a toxin pore

Nov. 27, 2019—By Jaime Jensen This article originally appeared in the Nature Research Microbiology Community blog. The bacterium Clostridioides* difficile (C. diff) has been called many things: a superbug, a public health menace, an urgent concern, a notable threat. C. diff infection (CDI) is frequently nosocomial and results from major disruption of the gut’s normal flora –...

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Making ends meet, and how to avoid a (replication) hangover

Nov. 8, 2019—By Alexandra Fuller You might break chicken eggs for your breakfast, but the lab of James Dewar (Biochemistry) breaks frog eggs to better understand the mechanisms cells use to terminate DNA replication. Published in Cell Reports, the Dewar lab found that topoisomerase IIα paves the way for DNA replication termination in vertebrates by keeping DNA...

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When G-actin is set free

Nov. 7, 2019—By Cayetana Arnaiz Yépez Cells along our intestinal tract are responsible for absorbing nutrients and acting as a barrier to pathogenic microorganisms. During differentiation, these cells, known as enterocytes, develop a specialized structure in their apical surface known as the brush border, which is made up of an array of actin-based protrusions called microvilli. This...

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The discovery of worms’ many spines

Nov. 7, 2019—By Natalya Ortolano When Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal started staining bird brains in the late 1800s, he ignored the spine-like protrusions decorating the neurons. He wasn’t the first to notice these protrusions; dogma dictated that they were a side effect of staining brains. However, he became convinced these protrusions were real. He likened...

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Help! Microvilli trapped inside cells!

Oct. 28, 2019—By Colbie Chinowsky A collaboration between investigators at Vanderbilt University and the University of Arizona has revealed new insights about a rare, genetic neonatal ailment, microvillus inclusion disease (MVID), which affects the enterocytes of the small intestine. This work, published in the Journal of Cell Biology and led by James Goldenring (Surgery) in collaboration with...

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