Just as users of Google Earth can zoom in from space to a view of their own backyard, researchers can now navigate biological tissues from a whole embryo down to its subcellular structures thanks to recent advances in electron microscopy and image processing, as described in The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB). An upgrade to the JCB DataViewer (http://jcb-dataviewer.rupress.org), JCB’s browser-based image presentation tool, now also makes these data publicly accessible for exploration and discovery.
Posts Tagged ‘cell biology’
Remember MacGyver? He could do almost anything with a piece of scotch tape and a paper clip. The following story reminds me very much of McGyver and how much can be accomplished with a little imagination.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research engineer Javier Atencia has a reputation for creating novel microfluidic devices out of ordinary, inexpensive components. This time, he has combined a glass slide, plastic sheets and double-sided tape into a “diffusion-based gradient generator”—a tool to rapidly assess how changing concentrations of specific chemicals affect living cells.
Proteins are literally the movers and the shakers of the intracellular world. If DNA is the film director, then they are the actors. And much can be learned about cell function – and dysfunction – by watching proteins on the move.
Until now, scientists have only been able to see this process indirectly. Now researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., have come up with a promising new technique that uses a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) to view proteins tagged with gold nanoparticles in whole, intact cells.
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Dr John J Rossi’s titles and accolades are many and varied — and well earned. In his current affiliation with the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rossi serves as chair and professor of molecular and cellular biology, dean of the graduate school of biological sciences, and associate director for laboratory research. He is co-leader of the cancer biology program and the first holder of the Lidow Family Research Chair. These professional accomplishments are complemented by numerous awards, including a 2002 Merit Award in the Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The common thread that weaves all of these activities and achievements together continues to be an unabashed enthusiasm for and curiosity toward scientific discovery — specifically in the molecular genetics of disease.
Rossi received his doctoral degree in microbial genetics in the late 1970s. At the time, cloning was only just becoming a tool that researchers could use, and with Rossi’s exposure to this now basic technique, his fascination with genetics turned to the molecular aspects of the discipline. Rossi was drawn to postdoctoral studies in Dr Arthur Landy’s lab at Brown University because of Landy’s groundbreaking work in sequencing genetic information for the bacteriophage lambda. Landy’s work focused on trying to understand some of the sequences of the attachment site of the bacteriophage in its host chromosome. He also completed the first restriction map of any lambda phage. Rossi was particularly attracted by the technology he would have access to in this forward-thinking environment.
But according to Dr. David Sprinzak, a new faculty recruit of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, cells know when to transmit signals — and they know when it’s time to shut up and let other cells do the talking. In collaboration with a team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Sprinzak has discovered the mechanism that allows cells to switch from sender to receiver mode or vice versa, inhibiting their own signals while allowing them to receive information from other cells — controlling their development like a well-run business meeting.
Dr. Sprinzak’s breakthrough can lead to the development of cancer drugs that specifically target these transactions as needed, further inhibiting or encouraging the flow of information between cells and potentially stopping the uncontrollable proliferation of cancer cells. Dr. Sprinzak’s research appeared in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.
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