New work from the laboratory of MCDB Professor Zach Ma has found an unsuspected role for a protein previously known to be a nuclear protein that modifies gene expression. The protein, mDpy-30, is a component of histone lysine methyltransferase complexes that modify chromatin structure and increase or decrease expression of genes. The Ma lab found that mDpy-30 is located not only in the nucleus of cells but also is found in the trans-Golgi network.
A team lead by MCDB professor Ken Kosik has made a significant discovery in understanding the way human embryonic stem cells function. New research by CIRM-funded postdoctoral scholar Na Xu, working with UCSB Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering Co-Director James Thomson, explain nature's way of controlling whether stem cells will renew, or differentiate to become a brain cell or heart cell, or any other part of the human body. The study is reported in the May 1 issue of the journal Cell.
UC Santa Barbara has received a $1.2 million training grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to continue an interdisciplinary training program in stem cell biology and engineering. The three-year grant will make it possible for pre-doctoral and postdoctoral students to participate in groundbreaking research in two broad but interrelated areas: the fundamental molecular biology of stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and bioengineering approaches to develop novel biotechnologies for stem cell research.
UCSB researchers led by MCDB scientist Steven Fisher have been awarded a grant from the Macula Vision Research Foundation to develop a mouse model of the eye disease central serous chorioretinopathy (CSR). In humans with this disease, abnormal fluid accumulation leads to retinal detachment. Recently, a mouse strain was identified that spontaneously develops serous retinal detachment similar to the human disease. Fisher and his collaborators will characterize the cellular and molecular changes occuring in this mouse model of CSR.
MCDB Ph.D. student Olga Azarenko, working with others in the labs of Les Wilson Mary Ann Jordan, discovered that sulforaphane, a chemical present in cruciferous vegetables, has similar effects on breast cancer cells as the commonly used anticancer drug taxol. In a paper published in the December 2008 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, they show that sulforaphane reduces the rate at which microtubules grow and shrink, and this stabilization of microtubules interferes with cell division in cancer cells.
Congratulations to MCDB Professor Herb Waite, who has been honored by election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! Herb was recognized for his "fundamental studies of the chemical and physical aspects of biological adhesion leading to new biomimetic materials". Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.
MCDB is pleased to welcome new Assistant Professor Tony DeTomaso from Stanford University's Hopkins Marine station. Dr. De Tomaso received his BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1987, and his Ph.D. from Washington University (St. Louis). Dr. De Tomaso went on to carry out innovative post-doctoral research with Dr. Irving Weissman at Stanford in a very different area: allorecognition in colonial tunicates. Dr. De Tomaso is currently an independent investigator in the Department of Biology at Stanford University.
MCDB scientists Douglas Heithoff and Michael Mahan believe their recent research suggests that it might be possible in the not-too-distant future to create a vaccine that might protect against 2,500 strains of salmonella. In a paper to be published in the November edition of the journal Infection and Immunity, the researchers detail the path to creating a vaccine that confers protection against multiple strains of bacteria
MCDB Professor Herb Waite and colleagues have discovered a unique materials strategy employed by the Humboldt squid in the makeup of its razor sharp beak. As reported in the journal Science, the tip of the beak is stronger and stiffer than any synthetic polymer, but stiffness is graded from tip to base. The findings may have applications in the design of novel synthetic materials consisting of mechanically mismatched materials.