10 chemical hits: Slinn Pickings

  • The lock shapes the key – Proteins normally recognize each other by their specific 3-D structure. If the key fits in the lock, a reaction can take place. However there are reactions at the onset of which the key does not really have a shape. Chemists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the Max Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding (Halle/Saale) have now shown how this might work. Their results will appear in PNAS this week.
  • Researchers develop new hydrogen storage technology – Working with scientists from the STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the University of Oxford, LCN researchers Zeynep Kurban and Professor Neal Skipper and UCL graduate Dr Arthur Lovell have developed a new technology that allows hydrogen to be stored in a cheap and practical way, making it promising for widespread use as a carbon-free alternative to petrol.
  • Atomic model of tropomyosin bound to actin – New research sheds light on the interaction between the semi-flexible protein tropomyosin and actin thin filaments. The study, published by Cell Press on Feb. 15 in the Biophysical Journal, provides the first detailed atomic model of tropomyosin bound to actin and significantly advances the understanding of the dynamic relationship between these key cellular proteins.
  • Unique New Probe of Proton Spin Structure at RHIC – Scientists hoping to unravel the mystery of proton spin at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator at Brookhaven National Laboratory, have a new tool at their disposal — the first to directly explore how quarks of different types, or "flavors," contribute to the overall spin of the proton.
  • Two-faced proteins? – Cancer researchers are identifying an increasing number of proteins that have a dual nature when it comes to cancer -they may initially promote the development of tumors, but in the long run make them less aggressive, or vice versa.
  • Worms’ diet the key to coloured silk – Scientists in Singapore have found out how to produce coloured silk based on the diet fed to silkworms. The discovery has the potential to end the expensive and environmentally harmful methods currently used to dye silk fibres, and could also pave the way for luminescent silk scaffolds for use in medicine.
  • Building up a natural product toolkit – US scientists have come up with a method that makes it easier to extract compounds that are difficult to isolate from crude natural product mixtures.<br />
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    Erin Carlson and her team at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, have used resins to target and isolate desired compounds in crude extract mixtures, in this case alcohols.
  • Top Pharmaceuticals Poster from Njarðarson Group – TOP 200 DRUGS: Jón Tryggvi Njarðarson's research group at the University of Arizona has created pharmaceutical posters which can be downloaded free as high resolution PDF files. This is a useful tool for teaching students and serves as a spring board of ideas for researchers for development of new synthetic strategies.
  • Worldwide sulfur emissions rose between 2000-2005, after decade of decline – A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.
  • Quest for designer bacteria uncovers a Spy – Scientists have discovered a molecular assistant called Spy that helps bacteria excel at producing proteins for medical and industrial purposes.

Another high yielding news day from Robert Slinn for Reactive Reports in his regular column: Slinn Pickings.