Awardees' Articles

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Manuel Irimia and colleagues

Friday 6th February 2015

Against common intuition, tiny microexons as short as 3 nucleotides can and do exist within our genes. Surprisingly, not only can they be recognized by the cellular machinery and become part of proteins, but they were also often found to be only (or mainly) expressed in neurons. Microexons are switched on during late neuronal differentiation, and impact surfaces of proteins that are crucial for neuronal maturation and synaptic function. Through this protein surface 'microsurgery', microexons...


HFSP Program Grant holder Guy Lyons and colleagues

Tuesday 3rd February 2015

The epithelial tissues that line our bodies are the frontline protection against the environment and microorganisms. Here, we have discovered how one of these tissues, the cornea, is maintained by a population of specialized progenitor cells located at the edge of the clear tissue.


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Raffaella Di Micco and colleagues

Monday 2nd February 2015

A better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate ESC identity is needed to fulfill the promise of ESCs in regenerative medicine. Transcription factors and chromatin regulators control the ability of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to self-renew and remain undifferentiated. An epigenetic reader called BRD4 acts at the boundary between transcription and chromatin remodeling: it binds to acetylated histone tails and recruits RNA Polymerase specifically at key stem cell genes. Genetic and chemical...


HFSP Program Grant holder Yossi Yovel and colleagues

Thursday 29th January 2015

When you sit in a dark cinema theatre and someone opens a bag of chips, everyone in the theatre knows that someone is eating chips and approximately where that someone is. Bats work similarly. When one bat finds a patch of insects, all of the other bats within earshot will realize this. That’s very useful information because bats can use their sonar to detect an insect only when it is very close – within 10 meters - but a bat can hear that another bat has detected an insect from more than 100...


HFSP Program Grant holders Alessandra Cambi and Maria Garcia-Parajo and colleagues

Tuesday 27th January 2015

Novel biophysical techniques, including super-resolution nanoscopy and single molecule approaches, are providing indisputable proof that many, if not most, membrane proteins are clustered at the plasma membrane at different spatiotemporal scales. We discovered that pathogen recognition receptors organize in a highly hierarchical fashion on the membrane of immune cells, forming nanoclusters that further organize in meso-scale regions enriched with sites for endocytosis. This preferred organization...


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Maithe Arruda-Carvalho and colleagues

Monday 26th January 2015

Fear memory circuits are essential for normal response to threats but also underlie pathologies of excess fear such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Here we uncovered the contribution of a specific microcircuit to the formation of fear memories, bringing us one step closer to understanding the physiological basis of fear regulation.


HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Clement Riedel and colleagues

Friday 23rd January 2015

One of the most important physico-chemical discoveries made by mankind is that matter is made of atoms. These atoms can create covalent bonds to form molecules. During a chemical reaction (the re-arrangement of these atoms to create a new molecule) covalent bonds are made or broken and a given amount of energy is released (typically around ~ 100 kcal/mol). This energy has been well characterized in bulk and corresponds to the enthalpy of the chemical reaction. However, very little attention has...


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Sonia Melo and colleagues

Monday 19th January 2015

We have unravelled for the first time a cell-independent function of exosomes. Exosomes secreted by cancer cells contain the proteins of the RISC complex that are able to process pre-miRNAS into mature functional microRNAs. In this way cancer exosomes, upon secretion to the extracellular environment, become enriched in mature microRNAs associated with the RISC complex and are much more effective in silencing gene expression in recipient cells. Additionally, we have described that processing of pre...


HFSP Program Grant holders Paul Curmi, Nancy Forde, Heiner Linke and Derek Woolfson and colleagues

Tuesday 13th January 2015

Control over distinct properties of soft biomaterials is often difficult to accomplish: changing the chemistry alters the mechanics at the same time. A modular approach to functionality may be offered by the ability to decorate DNA with peptides of interest, thereby encoding the chemistry presented while retaining DNA’s distinct flexibility and compatibility with a wide variety of materials, biosensing and nanomanipulation strategies.


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Ulrich Braunschweig and colleagues

Thursday 8th January 2015

Most mammalian genes contain introns that have to be spliced out before mRNAs are translated into protein. In a surprisingly high fraction of genes, specific introns are retained predominantly when expression is low in a particular cell type, which potentially acts as a widespread mechanism to reduce inappropriate gene expression.