Highlights Archive

2015

New drug compounds show promise against endometriosis

An interdisciplinary research team, including molecular and integrative physiology professors Benita Katzenellenbogen and Milan Bagchi, has developed a new approach to treating endometriosis. Their research appears in Science Translational Medicine.

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Dr. Brenda A. Wilson receives 2015 Leadership Award

The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Department of Microbiology congratulate Dr. Brenda A. Wilson, professor of microbiology, on her 2015 Leadership Award, which she received from the YWCA of the University of Illinois at an awards ceremony on April 23rd.

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National Goldwater Scholarship Program recognizes MCB junior

MCB junior Nhan Huynh has earned an honorable mention in the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

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Biochemistry alumus, Dr. Seyed Torabi, who did his PhD in the lab of Dr. Yi Lu, has published his dissertation research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sodium ions (Na+) play diverse and important roles in biological processes, and yet few sensors with high sensitivity and selectivity for Na+ over other competing metal ions have been reported. In this study, the authors reported the first highly selective, sensitive, and efficient Na+-specific catalytic DNA and its conversion into a sensor for imaging Na+ in living cells. Their findings have recently been published in PNAS.

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Ceman lab in Cell Reports: How FMRP interacts with RNA helicase MOV10 to regulate translation

The Ceman laboratory, with lead authors Phil Kenny and Miri Kim, have shown that FMRP is able to facilitate or suppress the translation of a subset of its target mRNAs by its interaction with the RNA helicase MOV10.

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Synaptic Membrane Nanodiscs May Help Find Alzheimer’s Disease Therapeutics

Congratulations to Stephen Sligar for his recent publication in PLoS One: “Nanoscale Synaptic Membrane Mimetic Allows Unbiased High Throughput Screen that Targets Binding Sites for Alzheimer’s-Associated Aβ Oligomers.” Using a High Throughput Screening (HTS) facility at NU, Sligar and colleagues developed a cell-free system consisting of a library of synaptic proteins individually embedded in nanoscale lipid bilayers (Nanodiscs). Nanodiscs proved successful in a pilot HTS screen for small molecule inhibitors of amyloid β oligomer (AβO) binding. This novel technique appears promising for future large-scale HTS screens for membrane protein targets, including potential Alzheimer’s disease therapeutics.

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The Lipid Second Messenger Phosphatidic Acid Frees mTORC1 from Inhibition by DEPTOR

The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) integrates a variety of intra- and extra-cellular signals to control cell growth. To do so, mTORC1 is regulated, in part, by the endogenous inhibitor DEPTOR. A study led by Dr. Mee-Sup Yoon and Christina Rosenberger in the lab of Cell and Developmental Biology department head, Dr. Jie Chen, revealed that DEPTOR is rapidly and temporarily dissociated from mTORC1 upon mitogenic stimulation.

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Biochemistry graduate student wins top prize for poster at Annual RNA Society Meeting

Amruta Bhate, a 3rd year biochemistry graduate student in the Kalsotra lab, has won the best poster award at the 2015 Annual RNA Society Meeting for her discovery of a previously unexplored function for alternative splicing in liver maturation.

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Taranis protects regenerating tissue from fate changes Induced by the wound response in Drosophila

The Smith-Bolton laboratory uses genetically induced tissue damage in the Drosophila wing primordium to study how a tissue responds to damage and regenerates. A study by graduate student Keaton Schuster has identified a gene, taranis, that is essential for protecting cell fate during regeneration. The results are published in Developmental Cell.

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An elegant study led by Sumanprava Giri, a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Supriya Prasanth, shows ORCA interacts with multiple repressive H3K9 lysine methyltransferases (KMTs), namely G9a/GLP and Suv39H1.

Origin Recognition Complex Associated (ORCA) organizes heterochromatin by assembling histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferases on chromatin.

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Drs. Benita S. Katzenellenbogen and John A. Katzenellenbogen have been awarded the Fred Conrad Koch Lifetime Achievement Award by the Endocrine Society.

The Society’s highest honor, this annual award recognizes lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the field of endocrinology. Dr. Benita Katzenellenbogen is currently the Swanlund Chaired Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and Dr. John Katzenellenbogen is the Swanlund Chaired Professor of Chemistry. This is the first time the award has honored two scientists who collaborate both at work and at home as a married couple.

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Professor Emad Tajkhorshid named University Scholar

The University Scholars program recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship and service and provides $15,000 to each scholar for each of three years to enhance his or her academic career. Read more about Tajkhorshid's current work in this article.

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Viruses at the nexus of water and health

Nearly 25% of the world’s population consumes fecally-contaminated water. This water includes bacteria and viruses.Viruses provide greater challenges for disinfection because of their sizes and physical properties. The importance of understanding viruses for safe drinking water is discussed in a recent PLOS Pathogens article by associate professor of microbiology, Joanna Shisler and colleagues.

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University of Illinois awarded $8M from NIH to study nuclear structure

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Principal Investigator Andrew Belmont from the University of Illinois heads a team of Investigators that has been awarded an $8M grant over five years to study nuclear structure from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund as part of the recently-unveiled 4D Nucleome Program.

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Scientists uncover mechanism that propels liver development after birth

Assistant professor Auinash Kalsotra and collegues report that liver cells utilize a mechanism called "alternative splicing," which alters how genes are translated into the proteins that guide postnatal organ development. Their findings are published in Nature Communications.

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