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.

Quantitative Biology Bootcamp

Dear Students/Postdocs,

All Brandeis life sciences and physical sciences graduate students, postdocs and faculty are invited to attend the 3rd annual Quantitative Biology Bootcamp, which will be held over a two-day period, Sunday January 11, and Monday, January 12, at the Hassenfeld Conference Center.  We think this will be an exciting event for anyone interested in research at the interface of physical and life sciences. Space is limited — if you’re interested in taking part please register by e-mailing Trisha Murray. Please note that registration is a commitment to attend both full days of the bootcamp; if you are unable to come for the entire program please note that in your email and we will try to accommodate you if space is available.   We must hear from you no later than Monday morning, January 5, but please register earlier if possible.  We hope you can join us.

Jané Kondev and Jeff Gelles, QB program chairs

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.

Commencement 2009

In case you like to plan way ahead, the schedule for Commencement in May has been released. The main ceremony will be at 10:30 am. The Life Sciences mini-Commencement will be at 1:30 pm in the Gosman Main Arena.

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