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Synthetic systems biology, ten years on

Synthetic systems biology, ten years on

Synthetic biology goes beyond classic genetic engineering as it attempts to engineer living systems to perform new functions not found in nature. Ten years ago, Nature published a pair of seminal papers that stimulated ‘systems biology’ thinking in the field. The journal has now collected these papers, together with other, more recently published articles and an accompanying free podcast and video, as a web focus on ‘Synthetic systems biology’.  Read more

Poster on small RNAs from Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology

Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology presents a free poster on the productions and actions of small RNAs (ribonucleic acids), by V. Narry Kim and Mikiko C. Siomi. Recent progress in cloning, deep sequencing and bioinformatics have revealed an astounding landscape of small RNAs in eukaryotic cells. Small (20–30-nucleotide) RNAs, in association with Argonaute-family proteins, target messenger (m)RNAs and chromatin, and thereby keep both the genome and the transcriptome under extensive surveillance. The poster depicts our current understanding of the processing pathways of eukaryotic small RNAs and their possible mechanisms of action, and accompanies the Review article ‘Biogenesis of small RNAs in animals’ by V. Narry Kim, Jinju Han and Mikiko C. Siomi in the February issue of Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology (10, 126-139; 2009).  Read more

Focus on mechanotransduction

Nature Reviews Molecular and Cell Biology presents a special Focus on mechanotransduction — on a range of topics from how cells sense mechanical forces in different tissues to how these mechanical forces are transduced into biochemical signals — in development, normal physiology and disease. Cells sense their physical three-dimensional environment — properties of the extracellular matrix, neighbouring cells and physical stress — by translating mechanical forces and deformations into biochemical signals. In turn, these signals can adjust cellular and extracellular structure. This mechanosensitive feedback modulates cellular functions as diverse as proliferation, differentiation, migration and apoptosis, and is crucial for organ development and homeostasis. Any molecular defect that interrupts or alters this chain of mechanical sensing and subsequent cell signalling events could perturb the normal cellular function and potentially lead to diverse diseases such as loss of hearing, cardiovascular disease, muscular dystrophy and cancer.  Read more

Seminar on publishing excellence and citation data

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Thomson Reuters are holding a joint seminar on publishing excellence and how to correctly interpret journal citation data on 23 January 2009 in Sydney, Australia. This seminar will go into detail about the use and misuse of impact factors along with a presentation by senior editor Leslie Sage on how to get published in Nature.  Read more

Nature Milestones in Cytoskeleton

Published on 1 December, Nature Milestones in Cytoskeleton is a collaboration from Nature, Nature Cell Biology and Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, focusing on ground-breaking advances in cytoskeleton research. Developments in the past 60 years range from the discovery of actomyosin to the identification of molecular motors, and from fluorescence analogue cytochemistry and differential interference contrast microscopy to single-molecule in vitro assays and optical traps.  Read more

Direct control of paralysed muscles by cortical neurons

The activation of a single neuron in the brain may be enough to help restore muscle activity in the arms of paralysed patients with spinal cord injuries. Chet T. Moritz, Steve I. Perlmutter and Eberhard E. Fetz report their research in Nature (doi:10.1038/nature07418) showing that a potential treatment for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury is to route control signals from the brain around the injury by artificial connections. These results are the first demonstration that direct artificial connections between cortical cells and muscles can compensate for interrupted physiological pathways and restore volitional control of movement to paralysed limbs.  Read more

Nature web focus on frontiers in HIV/AIDS

Development of an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine and new drugs to treat established disease remain an urgent and pressing need. To conquer the enormous challenge demands a far better understanding of the biology of the virus, its interaction with infected cells, and the response of the immune system, than is currently at our disposal. A Nature web focus presents a selection of recent research papers in Nature that advance our knowledge in this regard. Click here to access selected content free online.  Read more