biochemistry

Optogenetics without the genetics

March 12, 2015

Optogenetics, a technique which enables scientists to control the activity of neurons with light, has revolutionaized the field of neuroscience. However, it relies on genetic engineering, which limits its use. A new study demonstrates a potential solution to this problem: gold nanoparticles. [Read more]

A snapshot of neural activity

February 16, 2015

A new study authored by Ben Fosque, first year graduate student in biochemistry and molecular biology, describes how he and his mentors engineered a new fluorescent protein, activated by a flash of violet light, that permanently marks neurons that fire -- a literal snapshot of neural activity. [Read more]

Nutrient availability can cause whole-genome recoding

December 9, 2014

The availability of a trace nutrient can cause genome-wide changes to how organisms encode proteins, report scientists from the University of Chicago in PLoS Biology on Dec. 9. The use of the nutrient – which is produced by bacteria and absorbed in the gut – appears to boost the speed and accuracy of protein production in specific ways. [Read more]

Brucella and the Fake Self-Destruct

April 12, 2012

By Rob Mitchum Brucella abortus is a particularly pesky pathogen. Frequently infecting cattle in many countries around the world, the bacterium causes the most common zoonotic infection, usually passing from animal to humans through ingestion of [Read more]

The Risky Value of Imperfection

February 27, 2012

By Rob Mitchum Cells, like people, are not perfect. If a cell’s primary responsibility is to produce proteins, then it makes a remarkable amount of mistakes in that job, with some studies estimating that an error appears in as many as 1 out of [Read more]