Scientists uncovered the atomic structure of KR2, a light-driven transporter for sodium ions which had only recently been discovered. Based on the structural information the team then identified a simple way to turn KR2 from a sodium into a potassium pump using simple means. Integrated into neurons, this could make KR2 a valuable tool for optogenetics, a new field of research that uses light-sensitive proteins as molecular switches to precisely control the activity of neurons and other electrically excitable cells using light impulses.
Biophysicists have revealed that fast-swimming, sulfur-eating microbes known as Thiovulum majus can organize themselves into a two-dimensional lattice composed of rotating cells, the first known example of bacteria spontaneously forming such a pattern.
Regenerative medicine uses cells harvested from the patient's own body to heal damaged tissue. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a cell-free substrate containing proteins to which autologous cells bind and grow only after implantation.
Researchers uncovered a new kind of synergy in the development of the nervous system, which explains an important mechanism required for neural circuits to form properly. Their breakthrough could eventually help develop tools to repair nerve cells following injuries to the nervous system (such as the brain and spinal cord).
The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this 'brain big data', researchers have used data mining to create http://www.neuroelectro.org, a publicly available website that acts like Wikipedia, indexing physiological information about neurons.
Researcher managed to clarify how DNA damage signaling works. The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed. DNA repair consists of enzymes which find the damaged DNA and repair it. Some of them recognize the damaged bases and give signals to the other enzymes, which repair the DNA.
Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in a new study.