Skip Over Navigation Links
Biomedical Beat logo

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health, supports all research featured in this digest. Although only the lead scientists are named, coworkers and other collaborators also contributed to the findings.

In This Issue... May 18, 2011

Quick Links

Browse All Issues

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

View Cool Image Gallery

Link to Us


Fluorescent markers highlight cell boundaries (outlines) and DNA (bright oblong and round areas).
High res. image (JPG, 103KB)

Cool Image: Goading the Gonad

Karen Oegema • UC San Diego School of Medicine

Form reveals function—at least in this gonad from an adult C. elegans. Here, fluorescent markers highlight cell boundaries (red) and DNA (green). To predict what many of the worm's essential genes do, researchers first silenced genes and then looked for phenotypic changes in the gonad structure. By grouping genes with similar effects, they were able to predict gene function across a range of cellular processes. Their new technique could provide important clues to the function of similar genes in humans.
Read more... Link to external Web site

NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also supported this work.
Simulating disease spread could help prevent another cholera epidemic.

Using Computers to Combat Cholera

Ira Longini and Elizabeth Halloran • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 resulted in a re-emergence of cholera. Using computer modeling to simulate the disease's spread, scientists tested the potential outcomes of various cholera vaccination strategies. The researchers found that vaccinating 50 to 70 percent of individuals living in high-risk regions could quell the rate of infection and reduce mortality by half. These findings could lead to new disease intervention strategies and help prevent or mitigate future cholera epidemics.
Read more... Link to external Web site

Caption: Simulating disease spread could help prevent another cholera epidemic.
Image of the new device that acts as a microscopic assembly line to synthesize cell membranes.

C-tail Detail Keeps Cancer Cells Alive

Jan Karlseder • Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Like all living things, normal cells are mortal and eventually die. Cancer cells, however, evade this fate, usually by regenerating tail ends of DNA called telomeres that keep their DNA from degrading. Some cancer cells use an alternative lengthening of telomeres, or ALT, mechanism. While exploring this mechanism, researchers made a surprising discovery: ALT cancer cells had a tail of cytosines, or C-tail, hanging over the tip of the telomeres. Knowledge about this unique feature could lead to a new target for anti-cancer therapies. Read more... Link to external Web site

NIH’s National Institute on Aging also supported this work.

Caption: A new device acts as a microscopic assembly line to synthesize cell membranes.
E. coli K-12 and other bacteria can shut down to evade antibiotics.

Bacteria Play Dead to Evade Antibiotics

Erica Larschan • Texas A&M University

Many bacteria genetically mutate to resist antibiotic drugs. Others, as scientists just discovered, merely shut down their vital signs and wait. These dormant bacteria are essentially invisible to many drugs. Bacteria induce this catatonic state by exposing themselves to near suicidal levels of their own toxins. To eradicate them, we might need a wake-up drug plus an antibiotic. Read more... Link to external Web site



Caption: E. coli K-12 and other bacteria can shut down to evade antibiotics. High res. image (JPG, 173KB)
Recombination hotspots (red, circles along the chromosomes) on chromosomes (green strands) from a mouse sperm precursor cell. Credit: Fatima Smagulova and Kevin Brick.

Zooming in on Recombination Hotspots

Galina Petukhova • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
R. Daniel Camerini-Otero • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

During egg and sperm cell formation, paired chromosomes swap segments, shuffling the genetic deck and contributing to each person's unique make-up. The swaps usually occur at specific spots on the chromosomes, rather than at random positions. Scientists now have used cutting-edge DNA sequencing techniques and powerful computers to produce close-up views and a high-resolution map of where these "recombination hotspots" are located in mice. The findings will help scientists find genetic disease genes and better understand the root causes of birth defects. Read more... Link to external Web site

NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also supported this work.

Caption: Recombination hotspots (red) on chromosomes (green) from a mouse sperm precursor cell. Credit: Fatima Smagulova and Kevin Brick. High res. image (JPG, 31KB)


To read additional news items, visit NIGMS News, Twitter or Facebook. To check out other free NIGMS publications, go to the order form. To subscribe or unsubscribe, visit https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNIGMS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USNIGMS_3. You may also subscribe to the RSS version of Biomedical Beat by selecting this XML link and following your news reader's instructions for adding a feed.

For more information about Biomedical Beat, please contact the editor, Emily Carlson, in the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at carlsone@nigms.nih.gov or 301-496-7301. The text in this newsletter is not copyrighted, and we encourage its use or reprinting.

This page last reviewed on May 18, 2011