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BMC Structural Biology - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-04-24T00:00:00Z High resolution structure of cleaved Serpin 42 Da from Drosophila melanogaster
Background: The Drosophila melanogaster Serpin 42 Da gene (previously Serpin 4) encodes a serine protease inhibitor that is capable of remarkable functional diversity through the alternative splicing of four different reactive centre loop exons. Eight protein isoforms of Serpin 42 Da have been identified to date, targeting the protease inhibitor to both different proteases and cellular locations. Biochemical and genetic studies suggest that Serpin 42 Da inhibits target proteases through the classical serpin 'suicide' inhibition mechanism, however the crystal structure of a representative Serpin 42 Da isoform remains to be determined. Results: We report two high-resolution crystal structures of Serpin 42 Da representing the A/B isoforms in the cleaved conformation, belonging to two different space-groups and diffracting to 1.7 A and 1.8 A. Structural analysis reveals the archetypal serpin fold, with the major elements of secondary structure displaying significant homology to the vertebrate serpin, neuroserpin. Key residues known to have central roles in the serpin inhibitory mechanism are conserved in both the hinge and shutter regions of Serpin 42 Da. Furthermore, these structures identify important conserved interactions that appear to be of crucial importance in allowing the Serpin 42 Da fold to act as a versatile template for multiple reactive centre loops that have different sequences and protease specificities. Conclusions: In combination with previous biochemical and genetic studies, these structures confirm for the first time that the Serpin 42 Da isoforms are typical inhibitory serpin family members with the conserved serpin fold and inhibitory mechanism. Additionally, these data reveal the remarkable structural plasticity of serpins, whereby the basic fold is harnessed as a template for inhibition of a large spectrum of proteases by reactive centre loop exon 'switching'. This is the first structure of a Drosophila serpin reported to date, and will provide a platform for future mutational studies in Drosophila to ascertain the functional role of each of the Serpin 42 Da isoforms.
 2014-04-15T00:00:00Z Designing and evaluating the MULTICOM protein local and global model quality prediction methods in the CASP10 experiment
Background: Protein model quality assessment is an essential component of generating and using protein structural models. During the Tenth Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP10), we developed and tested four automated methods (MULTICOM-REFINE, MULTICOM-CLUSTER, MULTICOM-NOVEL, and MULTICOM-CONSTRUCT) that predicted both local and global quality of protein structural models. Results: MULTICOM-REFINE was a clustering approach that used the average pairwise structural similarity between models to measure the global quality and the average Euclidean distance between a model and several top ranked models to measure the local quality. MULTICOM-CLUSTER and MULTICOM-NOVEL were two new support vector machine-based methods of predicting both the local and global quality of a single protein model. MULTICOM-CONSTRUCT was a new weighted pairwise model comparison (clustering) method that used the weighted average similarity between models in a pool to measure the global model quality. Our experiments showed that the pairwise model assessment methods worked better when a large portion of models in the pool were of good quality, whereas single-model quality assessment methods performed better on some hard targets when only a small portion of models in the pool were of reasonable quality. Conclusions: Since digging out a few good models from a large pool of low-quality models is a major challenge in protein structure prediction, single model quality assessment methods appear to be poised to make important contributions to protein structure modeling. The other interesting finding was that single-model quality assessment scores could be used to weight the models by the consensus pairwise model comparison method to improve its accuracy.
 2014-03-27T00:00:00Z Crystal structure of an engineered YopM-InlB hybrid protein
Background: The multi-domain protein InlB (internalin B) from Listeria monocytogenes is an agonist of the human receptor tyrosine kinase MET. Only the internalin domain directly interacts with MET. The internalin domain consists of seven central leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) flanked by an N-terminal helical cap domain and a C-terminal immunoglobulin-like structure. A potential function of the N-terminal cap in receptor binding could so far not be demonstrated by deleting the cap, since the cap is also implicated in nucleating folding of the LRR domain. Results: We generated an InlB variant (YopM-InlB) in which the InlB cap domain was replaced by the unrelated N-terminal capping structure of the LRR protein YopM from Yersinia enterocolitica. The crystal structure of the engineered protein shows that it folds properly. Because the first LRR is structurally closely linked to the cap domain, we exchanged LRR1 along with the cap domain. This resulted in unexpected structural changes extending to LRR2 and LRR3, which are deeply involved in MET binding. As a consequence, the binding of YopM-InlB to MET was substantially weaker than that of wild type InlB. The engineered protein was about one order of magnitude less active in colony scatter assays than wild type InlB. Conclusions: We obtained a well-behaved InlB variant with an altered N-terminal capping structure through protein design. The reduced affinity for MET precludes a straightforward interpretation of the results from cell-based assays. Still, the engineered hybrid protein induced cell scatter, suggesting that the cap is required for folding and stability of InlB but is not essential for interactions that assemble the signalling-active receptor complex. The cap swap approach described here is clearly applicable to other L. monocytogenes internalins and other LRR proteins such as YopM and may yield useful structure/function correlates within this protein family.
 2014-03-19T00:00:00Z A Sco protein among the hypothetical proteins of Bacillus lehensis G1: Its 3D macromolecular structure and association with Cytochrome C Oxidase
Background: At least a quarter of any complete genome encodes for hypothetical proteins (HPs) which are largely non-similar to other known, well-characterized proteins. Predicting and solving their structures and functions is imperative to aid understanding of any given organism as a complete biological system. The present study highlights the primary effort to classify and cluster 1202 HPs of Bacillus lehensis G1 alkaliphile to serve as a platform to mine and select specific HP(s) to be studied further in greater detail. Results: All HPs of B. lehensis G1 were grouped according to their predicted functions based on the presence of functional domains in their sequences. From the metal-binding group of HPs of the cluster, an HP termed Bleg1_2507 was discovered to contain a thioredoxin (Trx) domain and highly-conserved metal-binding ligands represented by Cys69, Cys73 and His159, similar to all prokaryotic and eukaryotic Sco proteins. The built 3D structure of Bleg1_2507 showed that it shared the βαβαββ core structure of Trx-like proteins as well as three flanking β-sheets, a 310 –helix at the N-terminus and a hairpin structure unique to Sco proteins. Docking simulations provided an interesting view of Bleg1_2507 in association with its putative cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COXII) redox partner, Bleg1_2337, where the latter can be seen to hold its partner in an embrace, facilitated by hydrophobic and ionic interactions between the proteins. Although Bleg1_2507 shares relatively low sequence identity (47%) to BsSco, interestingly, the predicted metal-binding residues of Bleg1_2507 i.e. Cys-69, Cys-73 and His-159 were located at flexible active loops similar to other Sco proteins across biological taxa. This highlights structural conservation of Sco despite their various functions in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Conclusions: We propose that HP Bleg1_2507 is a Sco protein which is able to interact with COXII, its redox partner and therefore, may possess metallochaperone and redox functions similar to other documented bacterial Sco proteins. It is hoped that this scientific effort will help to spur the search for other physiologically relevant proteins among the so-called “orphan” proteins of any given organism.
 2014-03-14T00:00:00Z Structural insights into Noonan/LEOPARD syndrome-related mutants of protein-tyrosine phosphatase SHP2 (PTPN11)
Background: The ubiquitous non-receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2 (encoded by PTPN11) plays a key role in RAS/ERK signaling downstream of most, if not all growth factors, cytokines and integrins, although its major substrates remain controversial. Mutations in PTPN11 lead to several distinct human diseases. Germ-line PTPN11 mutations cause about 50% of Noonan Syndrome (NS), which is among the most common autosomal dominant disorders. LEOPARD Syndrome (LS) is an acronym for its major syndromic manifestations: multiple Lentigines, Electrocardiographic abnormalities, Ocular hypertelorism, Pulmonary stenosis, Abnormalities of genitalia, Retardation of growth, and sensorineural Deafness. Frequently, LS patients have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and they might also have an increased risk of neuroblastoma (NS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Consistent with the distinct pathogenesis of NS and LS, different types of PTPN11 mutations cause these disorders. Results: Although multiple studies have reported the biochemical and biological consequences of NS- and LS-associated PTPN11 mutations, their structural consequences have not been analyzed fully. Here we report the crystal structures of WT SHP2 and five NS/LS-associated SHP2 mutants. These findings enable direct structural comparisons of the local conformational changes caused by each mutation. Conclusions: Our structural analysis agrees with, and provides additional mechanistic insight into, the previously reported catalytic properties of these mutants. The results of our research provide new information regarding the structure-function relationship of this medically important target, and should serve as a solid foundation for structure-based drug discovery programs.
 2014-03-11T00:00:00Z Structural interrogation of phosphoproteome identified by mass spectrometry reveals allowed and disallowed regions of phosphoconformation
Background: High-throughput mass spectrometric (HT-MS) study is the method of choice for monitoring global changes in proteome. Data derived from these studies are meant for further validation and experimentation to discover novel biological insights. Here we evaluate use of relative solvent accessible surface area (rSASA) and DEPTH as indices to assess experimentally determined phosphorylation events deposited in PhosphoSitePlus. Results: Based on accessibility, we map these identifications on allowed (accessible) or disallowed (inaccessible) regions of phosphoconformation. Surprisingly a striking number of HT-MS/MS derived events (1461/5947 sites or 24.6%) are present in the disallowed region of conformation. By considering protein dynamics, autophosphorylation events and/or the sequence specificity of kinases, 13.8% of these phosphosites can be moved to the allowed region of conformation. We also demonstrate that rSASA values can be used to increase the confidence of identification of phosphorylation sites within an ambiguous MS dataset. Conclusion: While MS is a stand-alone technique for the identification of vast majority of phosphorylation events, identifications within disallowed region of conformation will benefit from techniques that independently probe for phosphorylation and protein dynamics. Our studies also imply that trapping alternate protein conformations may be a viable alternative to the design of inhibitors against mutation prone drug resistance kinases.
 2014-02-17T00:00:00Z Molecular analysis of hyperthermophilic endoglucanase Cel12B from Thermotoga maritima and the properties of its functional residues
Background: Although many hyperthermophilic endoglucanases have been reported from archaea and bacteria, a complete survey and classification of all sequences in these species from disparate evolutionary groups, and the relationship between their molecular structures and functions are lacking. The completion of several high-quality gene or genome sequencing projects provided us with the unique opportunity to make a complete assessment and thorough comparative analysis of the hyperthermophilic endoglucanases encoded in archaea and bacteria. Results: Structure alignment of the 19 hyperthermophilic endoglucanases from archaea and bacteria which grow above 80°C revealed that Gly30, Pro63, Pro83, Trp115, Glu131, Met133, Trp135, Trp175, Gly227 and Glu229 are conserved amino acid residues. In addition, the average percentage composition of residues cysteine and histidine of 19 endoglucanases is only 0.28 and 0.74 while it is high in thermophilic or mesophilic one. It can be inferred from the nodes that there is a close relationship among the 19 protein from hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea based on phylogenetic analysis. Among these conserved amino acid residues, as far as Cel12B concerned, two Glu residues might be the catalytic nucleophile and proton donor, Gly30, Pro63, Pro83 and Gly227 residues might be necessary to the thermostability of protein, and Trp115, Met133, Trp135, Trp175 residues is related to the binding of substrate. Site-directed mutagenesis results reveal that Pro63 and Pro83 contribute to the thermostability of Cel12B and Met133 is confirmed to have role in enhancing the binding of substrate. Conclusions: The conserved acids have been shown great importance to maintain the structure, thermostability, as well as the similarity of the enzymatic properties of those proteins. We have made clear the function of these conserved amino acid residues in Cel12B protein, which is helpful in analyzing other undetailed molecular structure and transforming them with site directed mutagenesis, as well as providing the theoretical basis for degrading cellulose from woody and herbaceous plants.
 2014-02-05T00:00:00Z Structure to function prediction of hypothetical protein KPN_00953 (Ycbk) from Klebsiella pneumoniae MGH 78578 highlights possible role in cell wall metabolism
Background: Klebsiella pneumoniae plays a major role in causing nosocomial infection in immunocompromised patients. Medical inflictions by the pathogen can range from respiratory and urinary tract infections, septicemia and primarily, pneumonia. As more K. pneumoniae strains are becoming highly resistant to various antibiotics, treatment of this bacterium has been rendered more difficult. This situation, as a consequence, poses a threat to public health. Hence, identification of possible novel drug targets against this opportunistic pathogen need to be undertaken. In the complete genome sequence of K. pneumoniae MGH 78578, approximately one-fourth of the genome encodes for hypothetical proteins (HPs). Due to their low homology and relatedness to other known proteins, HPs may serve as potential, new drug targets. Results: Sequence analysis on the HPs of K. pneumoniae MGH 78578 revealed that a particular HP termed KPN_00953 (YcbK) contains a M15_3 peptidases superfamily conserved domain. Some members of this superfamily are metalloproteases which are involved in cell wall metabolism. BLASTP similarity search on KPN_00953 (YcbK) revealed that majority of the hits were hypothetical proteins although two of the hits suggested that it may be a lipoprotein or related to twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway important for transport of proteins to the cell membrane and periplasmic space. As lipoproteins and other components of the cell wall are important pathogenic factors, homology modeling of KPN_00953 was attempted to predict the structure and function of this protein. Three-dimensional model of the protein showed that its secondary structure topology and active site are similar with those found among metalloproteases where two His residues, namely His169 and His209 and an Asp residue, Asp176 in KPN_00953 were found to be Zn-chelating residues. Interestingly, induced expression of the cloned KPN_00953 gene in lipoprotein-deficient E. coli JE5505 resulted in smoother cells with flattened edges. Some cells showed deposits of film-like material under scanning electron microscope. Conclusions: We postulate that KPN_00953 is a Zn metalloprotease and may play a role in bacterial cell wall metabolism. Structural biology studies to understand its structure, function and mechanism of action pose the possibility of utilizing this protein as a new drug target against K. pneumoniae in the future.
 2014-01-30T09:00:00Z Annual acknowledgement of manuscript reviewers
Contributing reviewersThe editors of BMC Structural Biology would like to thank all of our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).
 2014-01-24T00:00:00Z PcrG protects the two long helical oligomerization domains of PcrV, by an interaction mediated by the intramolecular coiled-coil region of PcrG
Background: PcrV is a hydrophilic translocator of type three secretion system (TTSS) and a structural component of the functional translocon. C-terminal helix of PcrV is essential for its oligomerization at the needle tip. Conformational changes within PcrV regulate the effector translocation. PcrG is a cytoplasmic regulator of TTSS and forms a high affinity complex with PcrV. C-terminal residues of PcrG control the effector secretion.ResultBoth PcrV and PcrG-PcrV complex exhibit elongated conformation like their close homologs LcrV and LcrG-LcrV complex. The homology model of PcrV depicts a dumbbell shaped structure with N and C-terminal globular domains. The grip of the dumbbell is formed by two long helices (helix-7 and 12), which show high level of conservation both structurally and evolutionary. PcrG specifically protects a region of PcrV extending from helix-12 to helix-7, and encompassing the C-terminal globular domain. This fragment ∆PcrV(128–294) interacts with PcrG with high affinity, comparable to the wild type interaction. Deletion of N-terminal globular domain leads to the oligomerization of PcrV, but PcrG restores the monomeric state of PcrV by forming a heterodimeric complex. The N-terminal globular domain (∆PcrV(1–127)) does not interact with PcrG but maintains its monomeric state. Interaction affinities of various domains of PcrV with PcrG illustrates that helix-12 is the key mediator of PcrG-PcrV interaction, supported by helix-7. Bioinformatic analysis and study with our deletion mutant ∆PcrG(13–72) revealed that the first predicted intramolecular coiled-coil domain of PcrG contains the PcrV interaction site. However, 12 N-terminal amino acids of PcrG play an indirect role in PcrG-PcrV interaction, as their deletion causes 40-fold reduction in binding affinity and changes the kinetic parameters of interaction. ∆PcrG(13–72) fits within the groove formed between the two globular domains of PcrV, through hydrophobic interaction. Conclusion: PcrG interacts with PcrV through its intramolecular coiled-coil region and masks the domains responsible for oligomerization of PcrV at the needle tip. Also, PcrG could restore the monomeric state of oligomeric PcrV. Therefore, PcrG prevents the premature oligomerization of PcrV and maintains its functional state within the bacterial cytoplasm, which is a pre-requisite for formation of the functional translocon.


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BMC Bioinformatics - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-04-24T00:00:00Z Identifying pathogenic processes by integrating microarray data with prior knowledge
Background: It is of great importance to identify molecular processes and pathways that are involved in disease etiology. Although there has been an extensive use of various high-throughput methods for this task, pathogenic pathways are still not completely understood. Often the set of genes or proteins identified as altered in genome-wide screens show a poor overlap with canonical disease pathways. These findings are difficult to interpret, yet crucial in order to improve the understanding of the molecular processes underlying the disease progression. We present a novel method for identifying groups of connected molecules from a set of differentially expressed genes. These groups represent functional modules sharing common cellular function and involve signaling and regulatory events. Specifically, our method makes use of Bayesian statistics to identify groups of co-regulated genes based on the microarray data, where external information about molecular interactions and connections are used as priors in the group assignments. Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling is used to search for the most reliable grouping. Results: Simulation results showed that the method improved the ability of identifying correct groups compared to traditional clustering, especially for small sample sizes. Applied to a microarray heart failure dataset the method found one large cluster with several genes important for the structure of the extracellular matrix and a smaller group with many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. The method was also applied to a microarray dataset on melanoma cancer patients with or without metastasis, where the main cluster was dominated by genes related to keratinocyte differentiation. Conclusion: Our method found clusters overlapping with known pathogenic processes, but also pointed to new connections extending beyond the classical pathways.


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BMC Genomics - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-04-24T00:00:00Z A house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) spleen transcriptome reveals intra- and interspecific patterns of gene expression, alternative splicing and genetic diversity in passerines
Background: With its plumage color dimorphism and unique history in North America, including a recent population expansion and an epizootic of Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), the house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a model species for studying sexual selection, plumage coloration and host-parasite interactions. As part of our ongoing efforts to make available genomic resources for this species, here we report a transcriptome assembly derived from genes expressed in spleen. Results: We characterize transcriptomes from two populations with different histories of demography and disease exposure: a recently founded population in the eastern US that has been exposed to MG for over a decade and a native population from the western range that has never been exposed to MG. We utilize this resource to quantify conservation in gene expression in passerine birds over approximately 50 MY by comparing splenic expression profiles for 9,646 house finch transcripts and those from zebra finch and find that less than half of all genes expressed in spleen in either species are expressed in both species. Comparative gene annotations from several vertebrate species suggest that the house finch transcriptomes contain ~15 genes not yet found in previously sequenced vertebrate genomes. The house finch transcriptomes harbour ~85,000 SNPs, ~20,000 of which are non-synonymous. Although not yet validated by biological or technical replication, we identify a set of genes exhibiting differences between populations in gene expression (n = 182; 2% of all transcripts), allele frequencies (76 FST ouliers) and alternative splicing as well as genes with several fixed non-synonymous substitutions; this set includes genes with functions related to double-strand break repair and immune response. Conclusions: The two house finch spleen transcriptome profiles will add to the increasing data on genome and transcriptome sequence information from natural populations. Differences in splenic expression between house finch and zebra finch imply either significant evolutionary turnover of splenic expression patterns or different physiological states of the individuals examined. The transcriptome resource will enhance the potential to annotate an eventual house finch genome, and the set of gene-based high-quality SNPs will help clarify the genetic underpinnings of host-pathogen interactions and sexual selection.


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BMC Biochemistry - Latest Articles   [more] [xml]
 2014-04-03T00:00:00Z Plasmodium falciparum UvrD activities are downregulated by DNA-interacting compounds and its dsRNA inhibits malaria parasite growth
Background: Human malaria parasite infection and its control is a global challenge which is responsible for ~0.65 million deaths every year globally. The emergence of drug resistant malaria parasite is another challenge to fight with malaria. Enormous efforts are being made to identify suitable drug targets in order to develop newer classes of drug. Helicases play crucial roles in DNA metabolism and have been proposed as therapeutic targets for cancer therapy as well as viral and parasitic infections. Genome wide analysis revealed that Plasmodium falciparum possesses UvrD helicase, which is absent in the human host. Results: Recently the biochemical characterization of P. falciparum UvrD helicase revealed that N-terminal UvrD (PfUDN) hydrolyses ATP, translocates in 3’ to 5’ direction and interacts with MLH to modulate each other’s activity. In this follow up study, further characterization of P. falciparum UvrD helicase is presented. Here, we screened the effect of various DNA interacting compounds on the ATPase and helicase activity of PfUDN. This study resulted into the identification of daunorubicin (daunomycin), netropsin, nogalamycin, and ethidium bromide as the potential inhibitor molecules for the biochemical activities of PfUDN with IC50 values ranging from ~3.0 to ~5.0 μM. Interestingly etoposide did not inhibit the ATPase activity but considerable inhibition of unwinding activity was observed at 20 μM. Further study for analyzing the importance of PfUvrD enzyme in parasite growth revealed that PfUvrD is crucial/important for its growth ex-vivo. Conclusions: As PfUvrD is absent in human hence on the basis of this study we propose PfUvrD as suitable drug target to control malaria. Some of the PfUvrD inhibitors identified in the present study can be utilized to further design novel and specific inhibitor molecules.


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Nature   [more] [xml]
 2005-01-19 Einstein is dead
Until its next revolution, much of the glory of physics will be in engineering. It is a shame that the physicists who do so much of it keep so quiet about it.

Einstein is dead

Nature 433, 179 (2005). doi:10.1038/433179a

Until its next revolution, much of the glory of physics will be in engineering. It is a shame that the physicists who do so much of it keep so quiet about it.



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Science: Current Issue   [more] [xml]
 2014-04-18 [Errata] Erratum for the Research Article: “Total Synthesis of a Functional Designer Eukaryotic Chromosome” by N. Annaluru, H. Muller, L. A. Mitchell, S. Ramalingam, G. Stracquadanio, S. M. Richardson, J. S. Dymond, Z. Kuang, L. Z. Scheifele, E. M. Cooper, Y. Cai, K. Zeller, N. Agmon, J. S. Han, M. Hadjithomas, J. Tullman, K. Caravelli, K. Cirelli, Z. Guo, V. London, A. Yeluru, S. Murugan, K. Kandavelou, N. Agier, G. Fischer, K. Yang, J. A. Martin, M. Bilgel, P. Bohutskyi, K. M. Boulier, B. J. Capaldo, J. Chang, K. Charoen, W. J. Choi, P. Deng, J. E. DiCarlo, J. Doong, J. Dunn, J. I. Feinberg, C. Fernandez, C. E. Floria, D. Gladowski, P. Hadidi, I. Ishizuka, J. Jabbari, C. Y. L. Lau, P. A. Lee, S. Li, D. Lin, M. E. Linder, J. Ling, J. Liu, J. Liu, M. London, H. Ma, J. Mao, J. E. McDade, A. McMillan, A. M. Moore, W. C. Oh, Y. Ouyang, R. Patel, M. Paul, L. C. Paulsen, J. Qiu, A. Rhee, M. G. Rubashkin, I. Y. Soh, N. E. Sotuyo, V. Srinivas, A. Suarez, A. Wong, R. Wong, W. R. Xie, Y. Xu, A. T. Yu, R. Koszul, J. S. Bader, J. D. Boeke, S. Chandrasegaran

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