Atomic structure of essential circadian clock protein complex determined

Structural biologists have made important progress towards better understanding the functioning of the circadian clock. The circadian or inner clock coordinates the sleep-wake rhythm and many other body processes that regulate, for example, metabolism, blood pressure, and the immune system. A research team led by Professor Eva Wolf, recently appointed Professor of Structural Biology at the Institute of General Botany of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Adjunct Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), has for the first time identified the molecular structure of a protein complex that plays an important role in regulating the circadian rhythm. At the same time, they also made a surprising discovery: The protein complex contains a zinc ion, which apparently stabilizes it. These results could form the basis for new strategies for treating illnesses that are the result of circadian clock dysfunction.

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For the first time in the lab, researchers see stem cells take key step toward development

The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.

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Genome sequences show how lemurs fight infection

The young lemur named Eugenius started to get sick. Very sick. He was lethargic, losing weight and suffering from diarrhea. Duke Lemur Center veterinarians soon pinpointed the cause of his illness: Eugenius tested positive for Cryptosporidium, a microscopic intestinal parasite known to affect people, pets, livestock and wildlife worldwide.

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Scientists map reproductive system’s evolution as dinosaurs gave rise to birds

As winged dinosaurs underwent a series of evolutionary changes during the transition into Aves, or birds, one pivotal transformation was the appearance of a single-ovary reproductive system. “The most widely accepted hypothesis for the presence of a single functional ovary in living birds is that the right ovary … was lost to reduce body mass in gravid females during flight,” report a team of Chinese scientists who are adding new details to the mosaic of understanding how terrestrial dinosaurs gave rise to birds and powered flight.

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Study links urbanization and future heat-related mortality

Phoenix stands at a parched crossroads. Global scale climate change is forecast to bring hotter summers and more extreme heat to the Valley, but regional urbanization also will impact temperatures experienced by residents.

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Observing the random diffusion of missing atoms in graphene

Imperfections in the regular atomic arrangements in crystals determine many of the properties of a material, and their diffusion is behind many microstructural changes in solids. However, imaging non-repeating atomic arrangements is difficult in conventional materials. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna have directly imaged the diffusion of a butterfly-shaped atomic defect in graphene, the recently discovered two-dimensional wonder material, over long image sequences. The results are published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

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