Bioluminescent Proteins Shed Light On The Inner-life Of Neurons

It could almost be the negative of a view from a plane over a busy city at night. The lights of vehicles moving in and out, clusters of traffic; a city going about it’s business. But this city is a brain cell. A neuron. The roads are axons and dendrites; long slim projections that send (axons) and receive (dendrites) electrical impulses to and from the cell body. The lights aren’t cars, but proteins moving up and down the axons and dendrites. But they are definitely lights; of a sort. Much like post at a large sorting office, cellular proteins are sorted into groups, depending on where they are needed. This is done by the ‘golgi apparatus‘, the cells sorting office. Proteins are packaged into vesicles and are targeted to different areas, be it axon, dendrite, or elsewhere. The packages are attached to a group of proteins called Myosins that carry cargo along a kind of scaffold inside ...(Read More)

Cholera’s Spring Loaded Nano-dagger

Bacteria have a number of tools to fend off foes or attack competitors, but now a new method can be added to the list: a spring-loaded dagger Research published in Nature by scientists at the Harvard Medical School and the California Institute of Technology investigated the structure of a mechanism used by the bacteria vibrio cholera to kill both competing bacteria and human cells, called the Type VI Secretary System (T6SS) in the cholera bacterium. It’s known that T6SS can deliver toxic proteins into nearby cells, but until now the exact mechanism was not known; now it appears T6SS could be using a poison tipped dagger to deliver this killing blow. “People aren’t surprised that animals have really interesting ways to hurt each other – snakes have venom, bears have claws,” says Grant Jensen, professor of biology at Caltech and co-leader of the study. “But they might be surprised that ...(Read More)