Findings may have implications for contraceptive
A study led by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has determined that a novel enzyme in sperm is essential for sperm motility and male fertility. The new study may offer a potential target for an effective, non-hormonal male contraceptive, the researchers said. The findings will be published today (Nov. 15) in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report also will appear Nov. 23 in the journal’s print edition. Collaborating with UNC were scientists from the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); Fudan University in Shanghai, China; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sperm motility, produced by the coordinated movement of the extremely long sperm tail, requires substantial energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the major energy currency of the cell. Specialized cellular structures known as mitochondria were thought to provide a substantial portion of the ATP needed for sperm motility. In contrast, Dr. Deborah A. O’Brien, associate professor of cell and developmental biology at UNC’s School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that sperm motility and ATP production depend primarily on a metabolic pathway known as glycolysis. This pathway uses sugar to produce energy, a common process in animal and plant cells.
Leslie H. Lang | EurekAlert!
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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