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Brooke N. is a PhD candidate at Emory University in the Microbiology & Molecular Genetics program. She spends her days uncovering the secrets of host and pathogen interactions. Her dissertation work focuses on elucidating mechanisms and the characterization of Francisella tularensis virulence factors. Although she hangs out with a human pathogen all day, her interests spread from microbes in the human body to microbes found at the ends of the universe. On her off time you can find her traveling the globe, biking around the city or downloading pictures of small animals while snuggling her 3-legged dog.
It’s no secret by now that one of my very favorite topics in science is the idea that many bacterial species have co-evolved with humans to become successful pathogens, aka super ninja killing machines... Read more »
Yang M, Liu Z, Hughes C, Stern AM, Wang H, Zhong Z, Kan B, Fenical W, & Zhu J. (2013) Bile salt-induced intermolecular disulfide bond formation activates Vibrio cholerae virulence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(6), 2348-53. PMID: 23341592
Is this one of those correlations that we all kind of figured happened, but no one has described yet? For me it wasn’t. I had never made the connection between binge drinking (4 drinks/2 hrs for men, 3 drinks/2 hrs for women) and type 2 diabetes, however this correlation has been known for quite some time now… but why?
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Lindtner, C., Scherer, T., Zielinski, E., Filatova, N., Fasshauer, M., Tonks, N., Puchowicz, M., & Buettner, C. (2013) Binge Drinking Induces Whole-Body Insulin Resistance by Impairing Hypothalamic Insulin Action. Science Translational Medicine, 5(170), 170-170. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005123
Sometimes when you have a big, hard, involved question you have to think outside of the box in order to answering it. Stepping outside of the box can be uncomfortable and brings a lot of uncertainty, but it can also be extremely interesting.
Which brings me to my big, hard, involved question... Read more »
Chambers MC, Lightfield KL, & Schneider DS. (2012) How the fly balances its ability to combat different pathogens. PLoS pathogens, 8(12). PMID: 23271964
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi), made infamous by Typhoid Mary, is a strictly human pathogen and the causative agent of typhoid fever (which still kills around 200,000 people a year).
Interestingly, we do not know what drives the species-specification of S. Typhi – even though there is a very similar mouse pathogen, Salmonella Typhimurium (Typhi-murium, murium = mouse, yah!). The species-restrictions carry all the way down to the cellular level, even though human and mouse ........ Read more »
Spano, S., & Galan, J. (2012) A Rab32-Dependent Pathway Contributes to Salmonella Typhi Host Restriction. Science, 338(6109), 960-963. DOI: 10.1126/science.1229224
How the discovery of the least-massive planet so far could change the abstract nature of astronomy.... Read more »
A paper came out this week in Nature Neuroscience with the conclusion: Humans can learn new information during sleep.
This is not the plot of a Saved By the Bell episode where Zach Morris listens to books on tape before his big test the next day and remembers everything; scoring an “A” and the hottest babe in class – but, these new data show that like Pavlov’s dog, we too can learn without being conscious of it.... Read more »
Infection of the brain by bacteria is fascinating, mostly because it is not suppose to happen but (of course) bacteria find a way around the rules.... Read more »
Banerjee A, Kim BJ, Carmona EM, Cutting AS, Gurney MA, Carlos C, Feuer R, Prasadarao NV, & Doran KS. (2011) Bacterial Pili exploit integrin machinery to promote immune activation and efficient blood-brain barrier penetration. Nature communications, 462. PMID: 21897373
According to standard Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, the universe should have more lithium than we have previously observed. A new method suggestions maybe the universe isn't quite as off from our theories as we thought.... Read more »
Howk JC, Lehner N, Fields BD, & Mathews GJ. (2012) Observation of interstellar lithium in the low-metallicity Small Magellanic Cloud. Nature, 489(7414), 121-3. PMID: 22955622
A discussion of a new paper about what can be learned from the radio sky 'background.' When is blank sky not blank?... Read more »
J. J. Condon, W. D. Cotton, E. B. Fomalont, K. I. Kellermann, N. Miller, R. A. Perley, D. Scott, T. Vernstrom, & J. V. Wall. (2012) Resolving the Radio Source Background: Deeper Understanding Through Confusion. ApJ. arXiv: 1207.2439v2
Owen, Frazer N.; Morrison, G. E. (2008) The Deep Swire Field. I. 20 cm Continuum Radio Observations: A Crowded Sky. The Astronomical Journal, 135(5). DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/136/5/1889
D. J. Fixsen, A. Kogut, S. Levin, M. Limon4, P. Lubin, P. Mirel, M. Seiffert, J. Singal, E. Wollack, T. Villela.... (2011) ARCADE 2 MEASUREMENT OF THE ABSOLUTE SKY BRIGHTNESS AT 3-90 GHz. ApJ, 734(1). DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/734/1/5
After talking with my lab mate about which is scarier, black holes or 0 degrees Kelvin, we started thinking about what is the scariest topic in microbiology.
The ebola outbreaks in Uganda? Close, but not the winner.
The Winner: Prions - unpredictable, infectious, non-viral, non-bacterial, misfolded proteins. There are no vaccines, no known cures, no understanding of how it infects, let alone how to stop it.... Read more »
EV71 might be mutating its genome to be able to invade neurons while in the host - come stop by and find out why and how.... Read more »
Samuel Cordey, Tom J. Petty, Manuel Schibler, Yannick Martinez, Daniel Gerlach, Sandra van Belle, Lara Turin, Evgeny Zdobnov, Laurent Kaiser, Caroline Tapparel. (2012) Identification of Site-Specific Adaptations Conferring Increased Neural Cell Tropism during Human Enterovirus 71 Infection . PLoS Pathogens. info:/
Grand design spiral galaxies are the most ordered collections of stars in the universe. One would assume that those galaxies--with their organized orbits, central core, and twisting arms--didn't just pop into existence right away. One would think that they took some time after the Big Bang to compose themselves. However, astronomers have recently found that the formation of spiral galaxies--or at least one spiral galaxy--doesn't have to take very long at all.... Read more »
David R. Law, Alice E. Shapley, Charles C. Steidel, Naveen A. Reddy, Charlotte R. Christensen, & Dawn K. Erb. (2012) High velocity dispersion in a rare grand-design spiral galaxy at redshift z . Nature, 338-340. DOI: 10.1038/nature11256
When the rough gets going in your GI tract, the microbes can turn virulent and cause disease. These 2-faced-microbial species are known as pathobionts (patho-, disease causing; biont-, living organism).... Read more »
Ayres JS, Trinidad NJ, & Vance RE. (2012) Lethal inflammasome activation by a multidrug-resistant pathobiont upon antibiotic disruption of the microbiota. Nature medicine, 18(5), 799-806. PMID: 22522562
I think everyone has seen them by now - the new scanners that the Transport Safety Administration has installed at airports all over the US. As the “radiation person” in my group of friends, I get a lot of people asking about them. “How much radiation do they use?” “Are they safe?” “Should I opt out of the scan and get a pat down?” The answers to the second two questions are subjective, but several studies have been done to evaluate #1. ... Read more »
Michael E. Hoppe and Taly Gilat Schmidt. (2012) Estimation of organ and effective dose due to Compton backscatter security scans. Medical Physics. DOI: 10.1118/1.4718680
Chlamydia, everyone has heard of it, very few people understand it.
New research on host proteins required for Chlamydia infection.... Read more »
Rosmarin DM, Carette JE, Olive AJ, Starnbach MN, Brummelkamp TR, & Ploegh HL. (2012) Attachment of Chlamydia trachomatis L2 to host cells requires sulfation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 22675117
Most, if not all, pathogenic bacteria did not get their start infecting humans, no, most of them started off as meager soil or water bacteria, just hoping to catch a rock to colonize. A lot of biologists have dedicated their lives to understanding the genetics or mechanisms behind harmless soil/water bacteria evolving into lean-mean human killing machines.... Read more »
Li Y, Powell DA, Shaffer SA, Rasko DA, Pelletier MR, Leszyk JD, Scott AJ, Masoudi A, Goodlett DR, Wang X.... (2012) LPS remodeling is an evolved survival strategy for bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 22586119
Virginia A. Rauh, et al. published in PNAS (Early Edition Articles) this week that prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos (CPF), a widely-used organophosphate insecticide, is associated with neurobehavioral deficits in humans.... Read more »
Rauh, V., Perera, F., Horton, M., Whyatt, R., Bansal, R., Hao, X., Liu, J., Barr, D., Slotkin, T., & Peterson, B. (2012) Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203396109
Multiple viral diseases are spread through vectors, like ticks and mosquitoes, that result in massive health care issues and epidemics worldwide – my question has always been, if the vectors are infected with the virus, are they getting a disease? And, what is in it for the organism? Or, what is driving the vector to spread the viral infection?... Read more »
Shuzhen Sim, Jose L. Ramirez, George Dimopoulos. (2012) Dengue Virus Infection of the Aedes aegypti Salivary Gland and Chemosensory Apparatus Induces Genes that Modulate Infection and Blood-Feeding Behavior. PLoS Pathogens, 8(3), 1-15. info:/
Cancer cells are tricky.
In order for tumors to grow they must avoid detection and recognition by the immune system. A group at Stanford has recently shown that tumor cells evade detection by phagocytic cells in order to persist.
Phagocytic cells are immune cells, dedicated to detecting, ingesting, and destroying foreign particles (from bacteria, viruses, parasites, dead or dying cells, etc). Macrophages are a type of phagocytic cell that are key players in fighting infection and irregular c........ Read more »
Willingham, S., Volkmer, J., Gentles, A., Sahoo, D., Dalerba, P., Mitra, S., Wang, J., Contreras-Trujillo, H., Martin, R., Cohen, J.... (2012) The CD47-signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPa) interaction is a therapeutic target for human solid tumors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1121623109
A research team has used parallax to empirically find the distances to several variable stars, making calculations farther along the distance ladder more accurate and precise.... Read more »
G. Fritz Benedict, Barbara E. McArthur, Michael W. Feast, Thomas G. Barnes, Thomas E. Harrison, Jacob L. Bean, John W. Menzies, Brian Chaboyer, Luca Fossati, Nicole Nesvacil.... (2011) Distance Scale Zero-Points from Galactic RR Lyrae Star Parallaxes. Astronomical Journal. arXiv: 1109.5631v1
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