Awardees' Articles

HFSP Program Grant holders Tomas Grim, Mark Hauber, Matthew Shawkey and Geoffrey Waterhouse

Thursday 11th December 2014

Birds’ eggs are some of the most colourful and variable natural products; yet, only two pigments are considered to be the major contributors to their visual appearance. Eggs of tinamou species (flighted relatives of rheas, emus, and ostriches) are best known for their beautiful mirror-like gloss. We show that a thin and extremely smooth cuticle is responsible for producing this gloss. We also discovered the presence of iridescence on Tinamus major eggshells, whereby the perceived colour changes...

 

HFSP Program Grant holder Douglas Altshuler and colleagues

Monday 8th December 2014

Little is known about the role of vision in controlling flight in birds. The avian brain has large regions dedicated to processing visual and spatial information, suggesting that visual information is important for bird behavior. We studied free flight behavior of Anna’s hummingbirds in a virtual reality arena with back-projected stationary and moving patterns to investigate how visual motion is used in hovering position control. Hummingbirds lost positional stability when hovering in the presence...

 

HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Andela Saric and colleagues

Friday 5th December 2014

At physiologically low peptide concentrations, formation of amyloid fibrils is a peculiar two-step process. Disordered protein oligomers, often considered toxic, are found to be crucial on-pathway species for amyloid aggregation under cellular conditions. Formation of peptide oligomers and hence, amyloid fibrils, is controlled by the strength of nonspecific attractions between peptides in solution, whose weakening may be crucial in preventing the formation of amyloid plaques.

 

HFSP Program Grant holder Nachum Ulanovsky and colleagues

Tuesday 2nd December 2014

A detailed understanding of how the neural navigation system of a bat brain acts in three dimensions sheds light on how mammals orient themselves in complex environments. This system acts as an internal compass that gives animals a continuous sense of direction and location as they move around.

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Patrick Tschopp and colleagues

Monday 1st December 2014

The morphological evolution of external genitalia and limbs is considered an essential adaptation to a terrestrial lifestyle, once vertebrates started to conquer land. Surprisingly, we find that the developmental origin of genitalia varies considerably between extant vertebrate species, yet the inductive signals and ensuing gene regulatory networks during their organogenesis seem remarkably conserved.

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Benjamin Schwessinger and colleagues

Tuesday 25th November 2014

Postdocs at the University of California are tackling the current challenges faced by postdocs in the USA by building their own union.

 

HFSP Program Grant holders Keith Shearwin and David Dunlap and colleagues

Monday 24th November 2014

Enhancers activate genes at long distance irrespective of position and orientation, so why don’t enhancers activate the wrong genes? The loop domain model proposes that DNA looping by insulators can restrict the reach of enhancers by generating isolated topological ‘DNA loop domains’. However, a biophysical understanding of this model has been lacking. By using well-characterised DNA looping proteins (Lac and Lambda CI repressors) in E. coli, we show that different loop arrangements can result...

 

HFSP Program Grant holders Karen Avraham, Ping Chen, Fumio Matsuzaki and David Sprinzak and colleagues

Thursday 20th November 2014

Planar cell polarity is a fundamental process during development, coordinating the alignment of neighboring cells within the plane of a tissue. A Human Frontier Science Program grant team from the USA, Israel and Japan, along with collaborators from Fudan University in China, has demonstrated a conserved role for Ankrd6 in regulating planar cell polarity in both the fruit fly and mouse.

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Volker Busskamp and colleagues

Monday 17th November 2014

Stem cell-derived neurons serve as attractive human neuronal model systems in health and disease. In order to understand in vitro neurogenesis, transcriptional changes over the time course of differentiation were analyzed and a network of key transcription factors that promoted the loss of pluripotency and rapid neurogenesis via progenitor states was revealed.

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Taran Gujral and colleagues

Thursday 13th November 2014

Metastasis is responsible for ~90% of cancer-associated mortality, yet progress has been slow in developing drugs that either specifically target metastasis or target cells with metastatic potential. Our study describes a new non-canonical Wnt pathway through Frizzled2 (Fzd2) that drives epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor metastasis.