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The ePetri dish, an on-chip cell imaging platform based on subpixel perspective sweeping microscopy (SPSM)

Posted in Science News Links, Technology Advances.

Horological Genius George Daniels Dead At 85


The reclusive horologist George Daniels, famous for his work on Breguet and his important co-axial escapement, died last Friday at his home in the Isle of Man. Daniels was 85.

The horologist was one of the first to catalog some of the best known watches in the world, traveling through Europe to examine rare and odd pieces from his favorite manufacturer, Abraham-Louis Breguet, and great watches from manufacturers like Patek Philippe. He was also an avid motorist and noted trickster, pretending to misuse some rare watches while he was photographing, nearly driving their curator to apoplexy.

Daniels was born in 1926 and spent his formative years at the mercy of his drunk carpenter father in North London. His only creative outlet came when he found a watch on the sidewalk and began to tease out its construction.

“It was like seeing the centre of the universe,” he said in the Independent. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to spend the rest of my time with watches.”

After escaping from home into the Army, he spent his spare time fixing soldier’s watches for pocket money and then became a watchseller and repairer. He began to design his own watch movements and his Daniels originals are still sought after in horological circles. He invented the co-axial escapement, now used by Omega in their latest Speedmaster chronographs. He retired to the Isle of Man where he spent his years tinkering and driving his many cars.

It’s rare to find genius in the wild and George Daniels was an exemplar of one man’s dedication to a seemingly dying art.

Posted in Science News Links, Scientist Profiles.

Rudolf L. Mössbauer (1929–2011)

Rudolf L. Mössbauer (1929–2011)

Nature 478, 7369 (2011). doi:10.1038/478325a

Author: Fritz Parak

A physicist who revitalized German science by creating a new type of spectroscopy.

Posted in Science News Links, Scientist Profiles.

Induced pluripotency leapfrogs ahead [Commentary]

Somatic cells derived from differentiated tissues can be reprogrammed back to a pluripotent state. However, multiple barriers exist to prevent such extreme dedifferentiation from occurring in vivo, which explains the inefficient induction of pluripotency by ectopic coexpression of Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc (OSKM) in somatic cells. In PNAS, Ganier et al. (1) report a method that uses frog eggs to boost transcription factor-mediated formation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) (Fig. 1).pnas;108/42/17245/FIG01F1fig01Fig. 1.Generation of M-phase egg extract-induced pluripotent stem (M-iPS) cells. This elegant approach for inducing pluripotency in mouse somatic cells uses amphibian mitotic...

Posted in Science News Links, Stem Cells.

Getting your paper published: An editor's perspective Hall PA – Ann Saudi Med

Ann Saudi Med, Official publication of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre

Posted in About Publication, Science News Links.

Rookie review

Rookie review

Nature 478, 7368 (2011). doi:10.1038/nj7368-275a

Author: Virginia Gewin

What the novice peer reviewer needs to know before combing through a submission.

Posted in About Publication, Science News Links.

Bioethics: Brave new biopolitics

Bioethics: Brave new biopolitics

Nature 478, 7368 (2011). doi:10.1038/478184a

Author: Kevin Finneran

Kevin Finneran hails a timely take on the debate raging over biotechnology breakthroughs in the United States.

Posted in Bioethics, Science News Links.

Sensing cooperativity in ATP hydrolysis for single multisubunit enzymes in solution [Applied Physical Sciences]

In order to operate in a coordinated fashion, multisubunit enzymes use cooperative interactions intrinsic to their enzymatic cycle, but this process remains poorly understood. Accordingly, ATP number distributions in various hydrolyzed states have been obtained for single copies of the mammalian double-ring multisubunit chaperonin TRiC/CCT in free solution using the emission from chaperonin-bound fluorescent nucleotides and closed-loop feedback trapping provided by an Anti-Brownian ELectrokinetic trap. Observations of the 16-subunit complexes as ADP molecules are dissociating shows a peak in the bound ADP number distribution at 8 ADP, whose height falls over time with little shift in the position of the peak, indicating a highly cooperative ADP release process which would be difficult to observe by ensemble-averaged methods. When AlFx is added to produce ATP hydrolysis transition state mimics (ADP·AlFx) locked to the complex, the peak at 8 nucleotides dominates for all but the lowest incubation concentrations. Although ensemble averages of the single-molecule data show agreement with standard cooperativity models, surprisingly, the observed number distributions depart from standard models, illustrating the value of these single-molecule observations in constraining the mechanism of cooperativity. While a complete alternative microscopic model cannot be defined at present, the addition of subunit-occupancy-dependent cooperativity in hydrolysis yields distributions consistent with the data.

Posted in Physiology, Protein Biology, Science News Links.

Protein delivery using engineered virus-like particles [Cell Biology]

Over the years, researchers have developed several methods to deliver macromolecules into the cytosol and nucleus of living cells. However, there are limitations to all of these methods. The problems include (i) inefficient uptake, (ii) endosomal entrapment, (iii) delivery that is restricted to certain cell types, and (iv) damage to cells in the delivery process. Retroviral vectors are often used for gene delivery; however, integration of the genome of retroviral vector into the host genome can have serious consequences. Here we describe a safe alternative in which virus-like particles (VLPs), derived from an avian retrovirus, are used to deliver protein to cells. We show that these VLPs are a highly adaptable platform that can be used to deliver proteins either as part of Gag fusion proteins (intracellular delivery) or on the surface of VLPs. We generated VLPs that contain Gag-Cre recombinase, Gag-Fcy::Fur, and Gag-human caspase-8 as a proof-of-concept and demonstrated that the encapsidated proteins are active in recipient cells. In addition, we show that murine IFN-γ and human TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand can be displayed on the surface of VLPs, and that these modified VLPs can cause the appropriate response in cells, as evidenced by phosphorylation of STAT1 and induction of cell death, respectively.

Posted in Science News Links, Technology Advances.

Oldest Living Tree Found in Sweden

A 9,550-year-old "Christmas tree" discovered on a Swedish mountain is the planet's most ancient known living plant, according to scientists.

Posted in Plants, Science News Links.