Vertebrates come in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes, from blue whales to pygmy bats, their overt morphology determined largely by the skeleton. The head skeleton in particular has undergone remarkable diversification, as is beautifully illustrated in Darwin’s examination of beak morphology in Galapagos finches. This week in PLoS Biology, Justin Crump, Mary Swartz, and Charles Kimmel explore the mechanism by which cell signals induce specific patterns of cartilage and bone that form the vertebrate head.
In zebrafish mutated for a gene called integrina5, the authors report, a specific region of the jaw support (hyosymplectic) cartilage fails to develop. Integrins are cell surface proteins that promote cell adhesion and signaling. Crump et al. show that Integrina5 promotes the development of an outpocketing known as the first endodermal pouch, which in turn acts as a template and helps to pattern a specific region of the hyosymplectic cartilage.
But the pouch may have more far-reaching effects. Since integrina5 mutants also have region-specific defects in cranial muscles and nerves, the first pouch may serve to organize an entire functional unit in a region of the head. As the hyosymplectic element has undergone considerable change during evolution--from a jaw-support element in fish to a tiny, sound-conducting bone called the stapes in mammals--Crump et al. speculate that such a local, interconnected strategy of development would facilitate evolution of the vertebrate head. Changes in signaling from the pouch would allow a particular skeletal element to vary in shape or size, in coordination with the muscles and nerves that move the skeletal element and independent of other regions of the head.
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Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
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Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
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Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
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