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Young women who have cancer treatment often lose their fertility because chemotherapy and radiation can damage or kill their immature ovarian eggs, called oocytes. Now, Northwestern Medicine® scientists have found the molecular pathway that can prevent the death of immature ovarian eggs due to chemotherapy, potentially preserving fertility and endocrine function.
Discovery of a mutant gene responsible for a disease is a milestone, but for most conditions, it may be only a first step towards a treatment or cure. Understanding Rett Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, is further complicated by the fact that the implicated gene controls a suite of other genes. Two papers, published in today's Nature Neuroscience and Nature, reveal key steps in how mutations in the gene for methyl CpG-binding protein (MECP2) cause the condition. The Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) funded this work with generous support from partners Rett Syndrome Research Trust UK and Rett Syndrome Research & Treatment Foundation.
This photo shows the brick-and-mortar pattern of simulated bone and nacre against the backdrop of real nacre found in the inner shell of many molluscs. Researchers working to design new materials that are durable, lightweight and environmentally sustainable are increasingly looking to natural composites, such as bone, for inspiration: Bone is strong and tough because its two constituent materials, soft collagen protein and stiff hydroxyapatite mineral, are arranged in complex hierarchical patterns that change at every scale of the composite, from the micro up to the macro.
The teeth of a kangaroo and other extinct marsupials reveal that southeastern Queensland 2.5-5-million-years ago was a mosaic of tropical forests, wetlands and grasslands and much less arid than previously thought. The chemical analysis of tooth enamel that suggests this diverse prehistoric habitat is published June 12 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Shaena Montanari from the American Museum of Natural History and colleagues from other institutions.
Singing siblings: zebra finches that grew up without their dads and therefore without a "song model ", don't have to worry about a lack of singing repertoire. The song of songbirds is usually transmitted from one generation to the next by imitation learning and is thought to be similar to the acquisition of human speech. Although song is often learnt from an adult model, there is some evidence of active vocal learning among siblings. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen now showed that juvenile zebra finches that have been raised without their fathers are able to learn their song via a brother that for a short period had been exposed to the father's' song.
This is an artist's illustration of how Archaeopteryx may have looked sporting its new pigmentation. The first complete chemical analysis of feathers from Archaeopteryx, a famous fossil linking dinosaurs and birds, reveals that the feathers were patterned—light in color, with a dark edge and tip—rather than all black, as previously thought.
This is a scanning electron micrograph of Sulfolobus solfataricus cells infected with STIV, showing pyramid-like structures on the surface of the cell. Biologists from Indiana University and Montana State University have discovered a striking connection between viruses such as HIV and Ebola and viruses that infect organisms called archaea that grow in volcanic hot springs. Despite the huge difference in environments and a 2 billion year evolutionary time span between archaea and humans, the viruses hijack the same set of proteins to break out of infected cells.
This is an artist's illustration of the skeleton of Archicebus achilles. The darkened bones represent the known bony elements of the skeleton found in China. An international team of paleontologists that includes Northern Illinois University anthropologist Dan Gebo is announcing the discovery of a nearly complete, articulated skeleton of a new tiny, tree-dwelling primate dating back 55 million years.
This is Christian Derntl in the bio-lab. Lignocellulosic waste such as sawdust or straw can be used to produce biofuel – but only if the long cellulose and xylan chains can be successfully broken down into smaller sugar molecules. To do this, fungi are used which, by means of a specific chemical signal, can be made to produce the necessary enzymes. Because this procedure is, however, very expensive, Vienna University of Technology has been investigating the molecular switch that regulates enzyme production in the fungus. As a result, it is now possible to manufacture genetically modified fungi that produce the necessary enzymes fully independently, thus making biofuel production significantly cheaper.
Researchers found that lookdown fish camouflage themselves through a complex manipulation of polarized light after it strikes the fish skin. Fish can hide in the open ocean by manipulating how light reflects off their skin, according to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. The discovery could someday lead to the development of new camouflage materials for use in the ocean, and it overturns 40 years of conventional wisdom about fish camouflage.
This is Machaeracanthus goujeti. Researchers from the University of Valencia and the Natural History Museum of Berlin have studied the fossilised remains of scales and bones found in Teruel and the south of Zaragoza, ascertaining that they belong to a new fish species called Machaeracanthus goujeti that lived in that area of the peninsula during the Devonian period. The fossils are part of the collection housed in the Palaeontology Museum of Zaragoza.
Fluctuation x-ray scattering is the basis of a new technique for rapidly modeling the shapes of large biological models. To learn how biological molecules like proteins function, scientists must first understand their structures. Almost as important is understanding how the structures change, as molecules in the native state do their jobs.
Rats process visual information from their eyes similar to other mammals. Nevertheless, their eyes move in a very different way. Unlike humans, their eyes can move in opposite directions. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, using miniaturised high-speed cameras and high-speed behavioural tracking, discovered that rats move their eyes in opposite directions in both the horizontal and the vertical plane when running around. Each eye moves in a different direction, depending on the change in the animal's head position. An analysis of both eyes' field of view found that the eye movements exclude the possibility that rats fuse the visual information into a single image like humans do. Instead, the eyes move in such a way that enables the space above them to be permanently in view – presumably an adaptation to help them deal with the major threat from predatory birds that rodents face in their natural environment.
The growth of plants toward light is particularly important at the beginning of their lifecycle. Many seeds germinate in the soil and get their nutrition in the dark from their limited reserves of starch and lipids. Reaching for the surface, the seedlings rapidly grow upwards against the gravitational pull, which provides an initial clue for orientation. With the help of highly sensitive light-sensing proteins, they find the shortest route to the sunlight – and are even able to bend in the direction of the light source.