Current Actin Filaments News and Events

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Spectacular 'honeycomb heart' revealed in iconic stellar explosion
A unique 'heart-shape', with wisps of gas filaments showing an intricate honeycomb-like arrangement, has been discovered at the centre of the iconic supernova remnant, the Crab Nebula. Astronomers have mapped the void in unprecedented detail, creating a realistic three-dimensional reconstruction. The new work is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (2021-02-10)

How cells recycle the machinery that drives their motility?
Research groups at University of Helsinki and Institut Jacques Monod, Paris, discovered a new molecular mechanism that promotes cell migration. The discovery sheds light on the mechanisms that drive uncontrolled movement of cancer cells, and also revises the 'text book view' of cell migration. (2021-02-09)

Scientists create flexible biocompatible cilia that can be controlled by a magnet
Filaments made of polymer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles are obtained by exposing the material to a magnetic field under controlled temperature. The applications are myriad and include transporting substances into cells or directing fluids. (2021-02-09)

Hearing acrobatics
The sense of hearing is, quite literally, a molecular tightrope act. Turns out, it involves acrobatics as well. New research shows that a dynamic and delicate connection between two pairs of diminutive protein filaments plays a central role in in hearing.The findings present a new understanding of the molecular underpinnings of hearing, as well as the sense of balance, which arises from similar processes in the inner ear. (2021-02-08)

UMass Amherst researchers gain insight into the biology of a deadly fungus
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have gained new insight into the biological processes of a chytrid fungus responsible for a deadly skin infection devastating frog populations worldwide. (2021-02-08)

Imaging the first moments of a body plan emerging in the embryo
Egg cells start out as round blobs. After fertilization, they begin transforming into people, dogs, fish, or other animals by orienting head to tail, back to belly, and left to right. Exactly what sets these body orientation directions has been guessed at but not seen. Now researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) have imaged the very beginning of this cellular rearrangement, and their findings help answer a fundamental question. (2021-02-04)

Researchers identify "rescue" mechanism that helps cells survive malfunctioning split
Cells replicate their genetic material and divide into two identical clones to perpetuate life. Some cells pause in the process with a single, undivided nucleus. When the cell resumes division after such a pause, the nucleus can become caught in the fissure, splitting violently, and killing both cells. But that is not always the case. Researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan are starting to understand how active nuclear displacement rescues cell death. (2021-02-03)

635 million-year-old fungi-like microfossil that bailed us out of an ice age discovered
A team of scientists from Virginia Tech, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guizhou Education University, and University of Cincinnati has discovered the remains of a fungi-like microfossil that emerged at the end of an ice age some 635 million years ago. (2021-01-28)

Experiments show the record of early life could be full of "false positives"
For most of Earth's history, life was limited to the microscopic realm, with bacteria occupying nearly every possible niche. Life is generally thought to have evolved in some of the most extreme environments, like hydrothermal vents deep in the ocean or hot springs that still simmer in Yellowstone. (2021-01-28)

Cell 'bones' mystery solved with supercomputers
Supercomputer simulations allocated by XSEDE on TACC's Stampede2 have helped solve the mystery of how actin filaments polymerize. University of Chicago and Yale researchers employed all-atom molecular dynamics to show structural basis for polymerization kinetics at polarized ends of actin filaments. This fundamental research could be applied to treatments to stop cancer spread, develop self-healing materials, and more. (2021-01-26)

Microstructured optical fibers find their 3D-printed groove
Advanced laser-printing techniques prove ideal for creating tiny optical communication devices with complex internal structures. (2021-01-25)

How cells move and don't get stuck
Theoretical physicists from Berlin teamed up with experimental physicists from Munich to determine the precise mechanics involved in cell motility. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (2021-01-18)

Research breaks new ground in understanding how a molecular motor generates force
A team of biophysicists set out to tackle the long-standing question about the nature of force generation by myosin, the molecular motor responsible for muscle contraction. The key question they addressed - one of the most controversial topics in the field - was: how does myosin convert chemical energy, in the form of ATP, into mechanical work? The answer revealed new details into how myosin, the engine of muscle and related motor proteins, transduces energy. (2021-01-14)

Changing the perspective on the 'Cinderella of the cytoskeleton'
SETD2, known for its involvement on gene expression, also can affect functions controlled by the cytoskeleton, such as movement, metastasis and migration, which are very important for cancer cells. (2020-12-23)

Frozen: Cutting-edge technology reveals structures within cells
Temperatures of minus 196 degrees Celsius enable high-resolution imaging of the cell's interior. Researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria are thus able to show for the first time how the active form of a protein complex plays critical roles in cell motility and other important biological functions look like. This study is published in the journal Nature Communications. (2020-12-22)

Longest intergalactic gas filament discovered
Astrophysicists led by the University of Bonn (Germany) have for the first time observed a gas filament with a length of 50 million light years. Its structure is strikingly similar to the predictions of computer simulations. The observation therefore also confirms our ideas about the origin and evolution of our universe. The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. (2020-12-17)

Natural environmental conditions facilitate the uptake of microplastics into living cells
The environment is polluted by microplastics worldwide. A research team at the University of Bayreuth has now discovered that microplastic particles find their way into living cells more easily if they were exposed to natural aquatic environments, i.e. fresh water and seawater. Biomolecules occurring in the water are deposited on the microplastic surfaces, which promote the internalization of the particles into cells. (2020-12-10)

Weathered microplastic particles, readily internalized by mouse cells, may pose a greater risk than pristine ones
Microplastic particles exposed to freshwater or saltwater environments for several weeks are about 10 times more likely than pristine particles to be absorbed by mouse cells, due to a crust of microorganisms and biomolecules that forms on the particles' surfaces, according to a new study. The results indicate that this crust acts as a biomolecular 'Trojan horse.' (2020-12-09)

Reproduction key to maintenance of marimo shape
A team of scientists from Hokkaido University has suggested that marimo maintain their characteristic spherical shape due to the rarity of the formation of reproductive cells. (2020-12-03)

Visualisation reveals how a protein 'hunkers down' to conserve energy
A visualisation made from nearly 100,000 electron microscope images has revealed the ingenious way a protein involved in muscle activity shuts itself down to conserve energy. The protein is called myosin and it is known as a molecular motor because of the way it interacts with other proteins and energy molecules to generate force and movement. It is found inside muscle fibres where it forms long myosin filaments made up of hundreds of individual myosin molecules. (2020-12-02)

Small finlets on owl feathers point the way to less aircraft noise
Collaboration between City, University of London and RWTH Aachen University researchers reveals how these micro-structures enable silent flight. (2020-11-18)

Does the human brain resemble the Universe?
An astrophysicist of the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon of the University of Verona compared the network of neuronal cells in the human brain with the cosmic network of galaxies... and surprising similarities emerged (2020-11-16)

Has the hidden matter of the universe been discovered?
Astrophysicists consider that around 40% of the ordinary matter that makes up stars, planets and galaxies remains undetected, concealed in the form of a hot gas in the complexe cosmic web. Today, scientists at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS/Université Paris-Saclay) may have detected, for the first time, this hidden matter through an innovative statistical analysis of 20-year-old data. Their findings are published on November 6, 2020 in Astronomy & Astrophysics. (2020-11-06)

How cells use mechanical tension sensors to interact with their environment
In a painstaking experiment, scientists suspended a single protein filament between two microscopic beads. Their results have shed light on an elusive process in which cells receive and respond to mechanical cues. (2020-10-26)

Study discovers potential target for treating aggressive cancer cells
New research by a team at Brown University finds that special filaments called vimentin may be key to the spread of some aggressive, chemo-resistant cancer cells. (2020-10-21)

Research demonstrates a molecular dance that keeps your heart beating
New research demonstrates a molecular dance that keeps your heart beating. The findings could someday lead to improved diagnostics and medical treatments for serious and sometimes devastating hereditary heart conditions. (2020-10-14)

NYUAD study finds key protein related to the disease-causing malformation of fat tissue
A team of researchers from NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), led by Associate Professor of Biology Piergiorgio Percipalle in collaboration with Research Assistant Professor Mohamed Al-Sayegh, recently studied the molecular basis of adipogenesis and discovered that the protein actin (a specific variant referred to as β-actin) has an important role in activating the genes which need to be expressed in order to create fat tissue. (2020-10-14)

How deadly parasites 'glide' into human cells
A group of scientists led by EMBL Hamburg's Christian Löw provide insights into the molecular structure of proteins involved in the gliding movements through which the parasites causing malaria and toxoplasmosis invade human cells. (2020-10-13)

How speech propels pathogens
Speech and singing spread saliva droplets, a phenomenon that has attracted much attention in the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Scientists from the CNRS, l'université de Montpellier, and Princeton University sought to shed light on what takes place during conversations. (2020-10-02)

ESO telescope spots galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole
With the help of ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have found six galaxies lying around a supermassive black hole when the Universe was less than a billion years old. This is the first time such a close grouping has been seen so soon after the Big Bang and the finding helps us better understand how supermassive black holes formed and grew so quickly. It supports the theory that black holes can grow rapidly within large structures which contain plenty of gas to fuel them. (2020-10-01)

Two molecular handshakes for hearing
Scientists have mapped and simulated those filaments at the atomic level, a discovery that shed lights on how the inner ear works and that could help researchers learn more about how and why people lose the ability to hear. (2020-10-01)

Gene expression altered by direction of forces acting on cell
Tissues and cells in the human body are subjected to a constant push and pull - strained by other cells, blood pressure and fluid flow, to name a few. The type and direction of the force on a cell alters gene expression by stretching different regions of DNA, researchers at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in China found in a new study. (2020-10-01)

How everyday speech could transmit viral droplets
High-speed imaging of an individual producing common speech sounds shows that the sudden burst of airflow produced from the articulation of consonants like /p/ or /b/ carry salivary and mucus droplets for at least a meter in front of a speaker. (2020-09-29)

Prototype graft, designed to replace damaged heart vessels, shows promise in cell study
North Carolina State University researchers reported promising preclinical findings for a prototype of a vascular graft designed as a replacement for a damaged or blocked coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart. (2020-09-29)

Naked prehistoric monsters! Evidence that prehistoric flying reptiles probably had
Pterosaur expert Dr David Unwin from the University of Leicester's Centre for Palaeobiology Research, and Professor Dave Martill, of the University of Portsmouth have examined the evidence that these creatures had feathers and believe they were in fact bald (2020-09-28)

Born to be wild: Fungal highways let bacteria travel in exchange for thiamine
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found a fungal-bacterial relationship that allows bacteria to travel along fungal highways and supply the fungus with thiamine (vitamin B1), which is essential to most organisms. Thiamine provided by the bacteria helped the fungal filaments to grow, and the highways let the bacteria travel farther than otherwise possible. Research in this area could be applied to settings ranging from fermentation to plant and human disease mechanisms. (2020-09-24)

New mouse model of tau propagation
Accumulation of assembled tau protein in the central nervous system is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and several other neurodegenerative diseases, called tauopathies. Researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science (TMIMS) established a new mouse model of tau accumulation and propagation in brain. Single intracerebral injection of synthetic tau filaments induced by dextran sulphate into wild-type mice caused seeding of endogenous tau, followed by spreading to distinct areas in a time-dependent manner. (2020-09-23)

Divide and enlarge
Researchers discover a mechanism that causes cell nuclei to grow. (2020-09-22)

Human white blood cells use molecular paddles to swim
Human white blood cells, known as leukocytes, swim using a newly described mechanism called molecular paddling, researchers report in the September 15th issue of Biophysical Journal. This microswimming mechanism could explain how both immune cells and cancer cells migrate in various fluid-filled niches in the body, for good or for harm. (2020-09-15)

Cancer drug can rebalance kidney function in a devastating genetic disease
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Zurich have discovered that a drug newly approved for cancer improves kidney dysfunction in a mouse model of Dent disease 2 and Lowe syndrome (2020-09-09)

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