After infecting a susceptible cell, the human immunodeficiency virus hijacks that cells normal machinery to produce carbon copies of itself. New HIV particles roll off the cellular assembly lines, burst like bubbles out of the cell, and float off to invade other cellular factories. Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigators have now identified an early step in HIV particle assembly. The findings, published March 11 in Cell, could lead to new drugs that combat HIV infection by shutting down the viruss assembly lines.
For several years, Paul W. Spearman, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology, and colleagues have been studying the assembly of HIV particles, specifically the distinct steps HIV structural proteins take in order to come together and create a viral particle. "The assembly process is just one part of the whole HIV life cycle," Spearman noted, "but its an important part in that each step along the way is required to make an infectious viral particle."
Spearmans team has focused on a protein called "Gag," the major HIV structural protein. In recent years, Spearman said, it has become apparent that Gag moves to a compartment in the cell called the multivesicular body, or late endosome. In some cell types, Gag and the HIV viral envelope protein form particles in the multivesicular body; in other cell types, Gag makes its way from this site to the cell membrane before assembling into particles.
Leigh MacMillan | EurekAlert!
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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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.
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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.
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