July 2011

NOTE: The MolBio blog carnival, referring to this edition, was the featured selection on blogcarnival.com for July 5, 2011.

Welcome to the latest edition of the MolBio blog carnival!

I have a bit of news, related to science writing if not biology. One of my social science blog posts was the inspiration for a national (United States) news story (it links to my blog post as the study under discussion, instead of the original manuscript). It's nice that my writing is noticed occasionally.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying living in Fort Collins (Colorado, United States) right now. I've lived in places that are brutally hot in the summer (Tucson in Arizona, Aberdeen in South Dakota) since 2006, and it's nice to get a break from that. Interestingly enough, Aberdeen is also cold enough in the winter to have a months-long snowpack (by far the harshest place I've ever lived).

Getting on to the science, this month's submissions include discussions on intracellular organization, plant cell defenses, and neuroscience. Read on:

Some Like It Curved.
Moselio Schaechter, writing in Small Things Considered, discusses lipid localization to bacterial cell poles. His blog is big on emphasizing that bacteria are not bags of randomly-dispersed enzymes, a topic close to my science heart. How do cells, which are obviously highly complex entities, carry out their functions? How do proteins even find their way to specific subcellular locations when needed? Relevant to these questions, Dr Schaechter explains how cardiolipin localizes to bacterial poles, and is required for the function of the proline transport protein. Other experiments give scientists further reason to speculate that cardiolipin is (at least partially) responsible for fixing numerous proteins to bacterial poles.
Plant Defence 3 - Acquired Resistance.
Lat Rat, writing in Life of a Lab Rat, was inspired by a BBC series on botany. This blog post is a continuation (third) of posts on plant cell defenses against bacteria. One might think that such defenses would be limited, given that the cells comprising a plant do not move, but you'd be wrong. Plants have both short- and long-range molecular mediators (e.g. hydrogen peroxide and salicylic acid) of protective pathogen responses (e.g. protein cross-linking in the plant cell membrane).
Generating Functional Neurons Directly from Human Fibroblasts.
Yours truly, writing in Phased, discusses an exciting advance in neuroscience research. Many people know of stem cells and their potential to treat many diseases and other medical conditions. In contrast, most people are unaware that stem cell therapy, as practiced today, comes with the risk of cancer and immune problems. Directly converting one cell type to another, without using stem cells, would bypass these problems. Addressing this need, human connective tissue cells have now been directly converted into neurons that transmit electrical impulses and the neurotransmitter molecule dopamine. The cellular transformation rate does need to improve for this approach to be medically viable.

That's it for this month's edition of The MolBio Carnival. You can check future hosts and past editions on the Carnival's home page. Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed to receive notifications and summaries when new editions of the Carnival are posted. Also, you are welcomed to submit your best molbio blog articles to the next edition of The MolBio Carnival which will be hosted at The MolBio Hut. More info about the Carnival here.

As I said last time, I don't have a comment function. Nevertheless, if you do feel so inclined, I'd like to hear from you (especially if something is in error or isn't clear, even if you just want to shoot the breeze on mountain biking in Arizona and Colorado). Drop me a line:
mslong79 at gmail dot com


L. D. Renner and D. B. Weibel (2011). Cardiolipin Microdomains Localize to Negatively Curved Regions of Escherichia coli Membranes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 (15), 6264-6269. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015757108

L. Brisson, R. Tenhaken, and C. Lamb (1994). Function of Oxidative Cross-Linking of Cell Wall Structural Proteins in Plant Disease Resistance. The Plant Cell, 6 (12), 1703-1712. DOI: 10.2307/3869902

W. Durrant and X. Dong (2004). Systemic Acquired Resistance. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 42 (1), 185-209. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.42.040803.140421

V. Shulaev, P. Silverman, and I. Raskin (1997). Airborne Signalling by Methyl Salicylate in Plant Pathogen Resistance. Nature, 385 (6618), 718-721. DOI: 10.1038/385718a0

U. Pfisterer, A. Kirkeby, O. Torper, J. Wood, J. Nelander, A. Dufour, A. Björklund, O. Lindvall, J. Jakobsson, and M. Parmar (2011). Direct Conversion of Human Fibroblasts to Dopaminergic Neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108 (25), 10343-10348. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1105135108