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These microscopy images show the cellular reprogramming uncovered by EMBL scientists. On the left is an ovary of a normal adult female mouse, with a close-up (top left) showing the typical female granulosa cells. When the Foxl2 gene was silenced in these cells (right, top right: close-up), they took on the characteristics of Sertoli cells, the cells normally found in testes of male mice. Image credit: Treier / EMBL

The Battle of the Sexes

Is it a boy or a girl? Expecting parents may be accustomed to this question, but contrary to what they may think, the answer doesn’t depend…

By Guest author(s)

Science

These microscopy images demonstrate the effects of Notch signalling on the hearts of newborn mice (top) and of adult mice after a heart attack (bottom). In a normal neonatal heart (top left), the two major heart chambers (ventricles) are clearly separated by tissue (septum). But when Notch signalling was inactivated in an embryo’s heart muscle cells, the septum between the ventricles of the newborn mouse’s heart was incomplete (asterisk). The same defect commonly occurs in humans with congenital heart disease, often leading to circulatory distress. In the images of adult hearts (bottom), healthy tissue is shown in red and damaged tissue in blue. Normally (bottom left), a heart attack causes extensive tissue damage to the left ventricle (right-hand cavity), but mice in which Notch was re-activated after the heart attack had reduced tissue damage (bottom right) and improved cardiac function. Image credit: EMBL

From fruit fly wings to heart failure. Why Not(ch)?

Almost a century after it was discovered in fruit flies with notches in their wings, the Notch signalling pathway may come to play an important role…

By Guest author(s)

Science

This image represents the integration of genomic, metabolic, proteomic, structural and cellular information about Mycoplasma pneumoniae in this project: one layer of an Electron Tomography scan of a bottle-shaped M. pneumoniae cell (grey) is overlaid with a schematic representation of this bacterium’s metabolism, where blue indicates interactions between proteins encoded in genes from the same functional unit. Apart from these expected interactions, the scientists found that, surprisingly, many proteins are multifunctional. For instance, there were various unexpected physical interactions (yellow lines) between proteins and the subunits that form the ribosome, which is depicted as an Electron microscopy image (yellow). Image credit: Takuji Yamada / EMBL

First-ever blueprint of a minimal cell is more complex than expected

What are the bare essentials of life, the indispensable ingredients required to produce a cell that can survive on its own? Can we describe the…

By Guest author(s)

Science

Drought resistance explained

Much as adrenaline coursing through our veins drives our body’s reactions to stress, the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is behind plants’…

By Guest author(s)

Science

These fluorescence microscopy images of fruit fly embryos demonstrate that the scientists’ computer predictions were correct. As predicted, during the early stages of development (top) a CRM called 1070 is active (red) in the mesoderm (green) – the tissue which will give rise to all muscle types. At a later developmental stage (middle), the same CRM is active (red/pink) in the embryo’s body wall muscle (blue), but not in its gut muscle (green). At the same time (bottom), another CRM, called 5570 (red), drives development in the gut muscle (green) but not in the body wall muscle (blue). Image credit: Furlong/EMBL

Deciphering the regulatory code

Embryonic development is like a well-organised building project, with the embryo’s DNA serving as the blueprint from which all construction details…

By Guest author(s)

Science

These microscopy images show that, in A. gambiae mosquitoes, the different alleles of the TEP1 gene confer different degrees of resistance to malaria: the midgut of a mosquito whose only functional allele is the 'resistance' one (left) contains a number of dead malaria parasites (black dots), but very few live parasites (fluorescent green dots), whereas in another, genetically identical, mosquito with only the 'susceptibility' allele turned on (right), parasite survival was much higher. Image credit: Marina Lamacchia/INSERM

From foe to friend: mosquitoes that transmit malaria may help fight the disease

For many years, the mosquitoes that transmit malaria to humans were seen as public enemies, and campaigns to eradicate the disease focused on…

By Guest author(s)

Science

In the centre, a structural model determined by X-ray crystallography shows how the two tags (attached to a short section of the histone protein – all in cyan) fit neatly into the Brdt pocket (purple). In the background image, hypercompaction by Brdt causes relatively diffuse chromatin (stained blue inside the nuclei of two cells on the top left) to compact and clump together (two on the bottom right).

Putting the squeeze on sperm DNA

In the quest for speed, olympic swimmers shave themselves or squeeze into high-tech super-suits. In the body, sperm are the only cells that swim and,…

By Guest author(s)

Science

This microscopy image, taken ten days after injury, shows that the muscle fibres of normal mice (left) had re-grown, while in mice which couldn’t boost C/EBPβ production (right) there were still many fibres that had not regenerated (arrowheads), and the tissue had a number of scars (arrows).

To regenerate muscle, cellular garbage men must become builders

For scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, what seemed like a disappointing result turned out to be…

By Guest author(s)

Science

In normal skin (left), the stem cells at the base, shown in green, differentiate into skin cells, shown in red. In mice whose skin has neither C/EBPα nor C/EBPβ (middle), this differentiation is blocked: green-labeled stem cells appear in upper layers of skin, and there are no differentiated skin cells (no red staining). This also happens at the initial stages of basal cell carcinomas. In skin where C/EBPα is present but has lost its capacity to interact with E2F, a molecule that regulates the cell cycle (right), skin cells start differentiating abnormally, before they have properly exited the stem cell ‘program’ (yellow/orange). This is similar to what is observed in the initial stages of squamous cell carcinomas, a more aggressive and invasive skin tumour.

How stem cells make skin

Stem cells have a unique ability: when they divide, they can either give rise to more stem cells, or to a variety of specialised cell types. In both…

By Guest author(s)

Science

UK leads European research programme with £10M investment in bioscience data handling capacity

BBSRC has awarded funding to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), based at Hinxton near…

By Guest author(s)

Lab Matters

Raising the alarm when DNA goes bad

Our genome is constantly under attack from things like UV light and toxins, which can damage or even break DNA strands and ultimately lead to cancer…

By Guest author(s)

Science

Scientists open doors to diagnosis of emphysema

Chronic inflammatory lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema are a major global health problem, and the fourth leading cause of death and…

By Guest author(s)

Science

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