Awardees' Articles

HFSP Program Grant holder Timothy Murphy and colleagues

Tuesday 19th June 2012

The extent to which movements are mapped by cortical to spinal cord hard wiring versus the properties of less constrained cortical synaptic networks (software) is unclear. Using light to selectively activate the output neurons of mouse motor cortex we show that cortical areas can be biased for general types of limb movement; however the execution of complex movements was dependent on the action of intracortical synaptic activity. An understanding of the regulation of movement will aid the development...

 

HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Fernando Montealegre-Z and colleagues

Friday 15th June 2012

In acoustic animals the physical size of the singer is believed to be encoded in the frequency of their calls, low-pitched calls are usually associated with large males and high-pitched calls with small males. This has been shown in many insects, like field crickets, but the rule seems not to apply to tree crickets. Male tree crickets produce tonal songs at low pitch with frequency varying from 2.3 to 3.7 kHz, using their fore wings. A new study by researchers at the University of Bristol, published...

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Pleuni Pennings

Monday 11th June 2012

HIV treatment nowadays works well, unless drug resistance evolves. To prevent the evolution of drug resistance, it is important to know the origin of the responsible mutations. We combined models from evolutionary biology with data from clinical trials to determine the origin of drug resistance mutations in patients with failed treatment. The analysis depends on the following idea: if pre-existing mutations are important, then the risk of treatment failure due to resistance must be highest when...

 

HFSP Young Investigator Grant holder Edo Kussell and colleagues

Friday 8th June 2012

Bacteria use restriction-modification systems to cleave foreign DNA at specific target sites, while protecting these same sites in their own genomes using methylation marks. Despite the protection afforded by methylation, restriction targets – short DNA ‘words’ recognized by a restriction enzyme – are significantly avoided in bacterial genomes. We hypothesize that such avoidance is the result of selective pressures due to rare events of bacterial DNA cleavage. Our theory demonstrates that...

 

HFSP Program Grant holders Dimitrios Vavylonis and Naoki Watanabe and colleagues

Tuesday 5th June 2012

The extension and retraction of the leading edge of motile cells is important in human development and disease. Researchers from Lehigh University and Tohoku University used fluorescence microscopy and mathematical modeling to show how fluctuations of the leading edge of XTC cells represent an excitable system driven by changes in actin polymerization and depolymerization.

 

HFSP Career Development Award holder Maya Schuldiner and colleagues

Monday 4th June 2012

To sense their environment and respond to it, cells secrete a variety of proteins or display them on their membranes. To mature, such proteins must travel through the secretory pathway, the entry point of which is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). To exit the ER proteins are packaged as cargo in lipid coated vesicles. For this to occur efficiently many cargos require the help of dedicated cargo receptors. Our study takes the first systematic approach to map all cargos that rely on each of the known...

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Woo-Ping Ge and colleagues

Friday 1st June 2012

Glial cells make up approximately 50 percent of the cells in the human brain. Most glial cells are produced after birth: in rodents, their number increases by 6-8-fold within the first 3 postnatal weeks. However, the source that contributes to this glial expansion is unknown. Our study has revealed that astrocytes, the largest glial cell population, are generated post-natally mainly from proliferating glial cells within the cortex rather than progenitors in the subventricular zone (SVZ) or radial...

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Nicola Allen and colleagues

Friday 25th May 2012

Neurons in the brain are connected by billions of synaptic connections, the points of communication between neurons. These connections are critical to the function of the central nervous system, allowing our sensory, motor and cognitive systems to interact. This study investigates the molecular pathways that lead to synapse formation and strengthening in the developing brain, with a particular focus on signaling interactions between neurons and a class of glial cell, the astrocyte.

 

Press release for Program Grant holders Fabrizio D'adda di Fagagna and Piero Carninci and colleagues

Thursday 24th May 2012

A new and unexpected role for RNA in animal cells is identified: the defence of genome integrity and stability. A study published today in the prestigious scientific journal Nature shows that until now an unknown class of RNA - the newly christened DDRNA - plays a key role in activation of the molecular alarms necessary to safeguard our genome when DNA damage from internal or external factors occurs. The discovery described in the pages of Nature emerges from a study conducted by Fabrizio d'...

 

HFSP Long-Term Fellow Brice Bathellier and colleagues

Monday 21st May 2012

The airflow detecting filiform hairs of spiders and crickets works optimally on a broad range of unexpectedly high frequencies. This suggests the existence of a constant evolutionary pressure on the reception of fast airborne signals, which might be crucial for detection of prey or predators against other signal sources.