Pepose Award Lectures Feb. 8 and 9

Neitz Color Vision LogoJay and Maureen Neitz, inaugural winners of the Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences, will deliver lectures on their research in using gene therapy to treat visual disorders on February 8 and 9. Lectures will take place in Gerstanzang 121.

  • Jay Neitz. Monday, Feb. 8, 4:00 p.m. Gene Therapy for Red-Green Color Blindness in Adult Primates (reception precedes lecture at 3:45 pm)
  • Maureen Neitz. Tuesday, Feb. 9, noon. Retinal Activity Patterns and the Cause and Prevention of Nearsightedness (reception precedes lecture at 11:45 am)

Back online

We’ve been off-line for a while, and now we’ve moved into the new version of WordPress supported by the campus IT folks. It should now be relatively easy for labs to post themselves to this blogs.

What have we missed? Well, for one, Michael Rosbash and Jeff Hall are getting the Gruber Neuroscience Prize, together with Michael Young (Rockefeller U), for their work on genetics of circadian rhythms.

I’ll post some more of the “backdated” news when I get a chance. Feel free to ask for an account so you can do it yourself…

Postdoctoral position: functional organization of cilia and flagella using molecular genetic approaches

A postdoctoral position is immediately available in the laboratory of Dr. Nicastro at Brandeis University to study the functional organization of cilia and flagella using molecular genetic approaches.

Our lab has in the past mainly been focused on high-resolution structural studies of these highly conserved organelles and defects in mutants, as well as the cytoskeleton and molecular motor in general. One of our long-term goals is to better understand ciliary diseases and identify therapeutic targets. Recently we have expanded our expertise in biochemistry and we are now seeking to complement our highly interactive team with an expert in genetics.

Applicants should have a PhD degree, a strong background in molecular biology/genetic techniques, and an edge for technology development. Responsibilities will include the establishment of a new model organism optimized for reverse genetics to target complexes in cilia and flagella. Familiarity with RNAi and one of the following model organisms is a plus, but not required: Chlamydomonas or Tetrahymena or Planaria. The candidate should be team-oriented and have excellent oral and written communication skills.
The position is available April 1st for up to three years with the possibility of extension. Interested candidates should send an application, including a CV, areas of expertise and interest, publications list, and names and contact information for 3 references to:

Dr. Daniela Nicastro
MS 029
Rosenstiel Center
Brandeis University
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454, USA.

The Nicastro Lab is located in the well-equipped and vibrant Biology Department of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts (eight miles west of Boston). Brandeis has a state-of-the-art electron microscopy facility, a newly implemented facility for Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy and an extensive computational facility. Life Science Research is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary at Brandeis, and offers excellent opportunities for scientific interaction on campus and other scientific institutions in the Boston area. Brandeis University is committed to diversity and equality in education and employment.

Is my DNA fixed yet?

A broken chromosome (a double-strand DNA break) activates the DNA damage checkpoint to prevent cells from carrying out mitosis until the break has been repaired.  Repair of the break involves the modification and the removal of histone protein octamers from DNA around the break and these must be reestablished when repair is complete.  In a new paper in PNAS, Brandeis alumnus Jung-Ae Kim (Ph.D., Molecular and Cell Biology, 2008) and Professor James Haber show that when two of the major histone chaperone protein complexes (Asf1 and CAF-1) are deleted in yeast cells, their absence prevents cells from turning off the DNA damage checkpoint and hence cells stay permanently arrested.   These results suggest that cells specifically monitor the re-establishment of normal chromatin status after DNA repair.

Sigma factors

In a new study appearing in PNAS this week, Brandeis Molecular and Cell Biology graduate student Houra Merrikh and co-workers from the Lovett lab identified the E.coli gene iraD as a regulator of the response to oxidative DNA damage in exponentially growing bacteria. Interestingly, the mechanism seems to involve the alternative RNA polymerase sigma factor RpoS, previously characterized as a regulator of expression during the “stationary phase”. Merrikh et al. argue that this response works in parallel with the previously characterized SOS response in protecting growing bacteria from DNA damage.

Microscopy (2): studying molecular motors

An article in Cell by recent Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. graduate Susan Tran and coworkers demonstrates the power of single particle microscopy in combination with Drosophila genetics in studying molecular motors. Studying lipid droplet movement in embryos, they show that multiple motors are attached to droplets in vivo. Surprisingly, having multiple motors per droplet in vivo doesn’t result in higher velocities or distances traveled.

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