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Scientists Learning How to Harness Cellular Trucks

In an article that blurs the line between biology and technology, a press release from the Max Planck Institute (see EurekAlert for English translation) described the amazing performance of the nanoscopic trucks that ride the cell’s microtubule superhighways.  Kinesin and myosin motors, fueled by ATP, usually “sprint” on the trackways for short distances, but working […]

Cellular Black Box Reveals Precision Guidance and Control

Amazing discoveries about the cell are being made each week.  It’s a shame more people don’t hear about them.  They are usually written up in obscure journals with incomprehensible jargon, but when explained in plain English, the findings are truly astounding.  Not long ago, the cell was a “black box,” a mechanism of unknown inner […]

Tissues Build Firebreaks to Avoid Disease

An article in the March 3 issue of Nature1 explains how tissues communicate to fight off infection.  As reported before, cells display samples of the proteins they contain on their outer membranes, a process called presentation.  Killer T cells wander around, like cops, looking at the presentations.  When they recognize alien proteins (antigens), they respond […]

Ribosome Unties the Messenger-RNA Gordian Knot

Cells needing to translate their DNA into proteins have a problem.  The messenger RNAs, the molecules that carry the genetic code from the nucleus to the translating machine called the ribosome, get tied up in knots.  How does the ribosome untie them before they can begin translating?  Takyar et al., writing in Cell,1 explored this […]

Cellular UPS Gets Right Packages to Chloroplasts

If all your packages were sent correctly over the holidays, consider the job a plant cell has getting 3000 proteins into a chloroplast.  Mistakes are not just inconvenient.  They can be deadly, or at least bring photosynthesis to a halt.  To guarantee proper delivery of components, plant cells have a remarkable shipping system, described in […]
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