Actin "pointers" for EM labeling

Single particle electron microscopy reconstruction can be a powerful tool for determining the structure of large protein complexes. One limitation of the technique is the difficulty in coming up with specific labels for the protein that can be visualized with EM. In a new paper in RNA, postdoc Beth Stroupe and coworkers show that the use of the actin-nucleating protein Spire as a cloneable tag allows them to nucleate actin filaments that then “point” to the location of the tag in the complex seen in EM, and applied the technique to their studies of the C complex spliceosome.

Nature NeuroPod

NeuroPod is Nature‘s (relatively) new podcast featuring interviews with prominent neuroscientists. Professor Eve Marder predicts the future of neuroscience in the November edition, and Professor Leslie Griffith talks about studying sleep in Drosophila in the December edition.

How regions of the brain get their specificity

The cortex is divided into functionally distinct regions, and the layers of the visual cortex are a classic example. But how much do the intrinsic electrical properties of a particular neuron type vary from region to region? In a recent paper in J. Neurosci., Brandeis Neuroscience graduate students Mark Miller and Ben Okaty together with Prof. Sacha Nelson found a new region-specific firing type in Layer 5 pyramidal neurons. They argue that features as basic as membrane properties can be region-specific, and that this regional specialization of circuitry contributes to the determination of the region’s functional specialization.

Cell cycle checkpoint from the stringent response

E.coli cells exiting the stringent response

E.coli cells exiting the stringent response

The stringent response in E.coli is a response to nutrient (typically amino acid) starvation and is characterized by the accumulation of the small molecular regulator ppGpp, and a global response in transcriptional regulation.  In a new paper in PLoS Genetics, Daniel Ferullo and Susan Lovett examine chromosome segregation during the stringent respons and discuss what appears to be a novel G1-like cell cycle checkpoint in bacteria that occurs as the result.

Centrifuge Safety

On December 18th, from 2:00-3:00, Tom Egan from Thermofisher will be presenting on centrifuge safety.  The session will be held in Rosenstiel 118.

Centrifuges are potentially the most dangerous piece of equipment in a lab. You should go to this talk if you use a centrifuge.

Structural diversity of amyloid fibrils

Amyloid fibrils are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study published in J. Mol. Biol., Nikolaus Grigorieff and coworkers used electron cyro-microscopy to study these structures and show that these fibrils coexisting in solution can be extremely polymorphic.

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