The new AggTag method allows researchers to see the previously undetectable but potentially disease-causing intermediate forms of proteins as they misfold. The method uses fluorescence to simultaneously detect two different proteins (red, green) within the cell (blue). Credit: Zhang lab, Penn State

New method uses fluorescence to identify disease-causing forms of proteins

A new method uses fluorescence to detect potentially disease-causing forms of proteins as they unravel due to stress or mutations. A team of researchers from Penn State and the University of Washington reengineered a fluorescent compound and developed a method to simultaneously light up two different proteins as they misfold and aggregate inside a living cell, highlighting forms that likely play a role in several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

A simple treatment using four small molecules converts human astrocytes – a common type of cells in the nervous system – into new neurons, which develop complex structures after 4 months, as pictured. Credit: Gong Chen Lab, Penn State

Simple drug combination creates new neurons from neighboring cells

A simple drug cocktail that converts cells neighboring damaged neurons into functional new neurons could potentially be used to treat stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and brain injuries. A team of researchers at Penn State identified a set of four, or even three, molecules that could convert glial cells—which normally provide support and insulation for neurons—into new neurons.

Dr. Melissa Rolls with current and prospective graduate students

Prospective Grad Students Get A Taste of Life at Penn State

Students interested in the Bioinformatics and Genomics; Plant Biology; Neuroscience; and Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences graduate programs were given a warm welcome on a snowy weekend.

Differences in geographic origin of a person’s mitochondrial and nuclear genomes due to admixture can affect function of mitochondria, energy-generating organelles located inside cells that have their own separate genome. A new study reveals that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number decreases with increasing “mito-nuclear” dissimilarity in geographic origins of the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes (e.g. as the proportion of nuclear DNA from population 1 decrease). IMAGE: ARSLAN ZAIDI, PENN STATE

Differences in genes’ geographic origin influence mitochondrial function

Differences in the geographic origin of genes may affect the function of human mitochondria — energy-generating organelles inside of cells — according to a new study. Mitochondria have their own genome, separate from the nuclear genome contained in the nucleus of the cell, and both genomes harbor genes integral to energy production by mitochondria. The study explores whether these “mito-nuclear” interactions, which are fine-tuned by natural selection over deep evolutionary time, could be altered when genes of different geographic origins are brought together within a genome.

This image shows a cell infected with Zika virus (green). The red is heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70), which appears to play a role in enabling Zika infection of host cells. IMAGE: RASGON LABORATORY / PENN STATE

Cellular protein a target for Zika control

A cellular protein that interacts with invading viruses appears to help enable the infection process of the Zika virus, according to an international team of researchers who suggest this protein could be a key target in developing new therapies to prevent or treat Zika virus infection.

Gang Ning, director of Penn State’s Microscopy & Cytrometry Facility (left), Todd LaJeunesse, associate professor of biology at Penn State (middle), and Drew Wham, a former graduate student in LaJeunesse’s lab, have been selected to receive the 2017 Tyge Christiansen Prize by the International Phycological Society

Huck Researchers Awarded Tyge Christensen Prize

Gang Ning, director of Penn State’s Microscopy & Cytrometry Facility, Todd LaJeunesse, associate professor of biology at Penn State, and Drew Wham, a former graduate student in LaJeunesse’s lab, have been selected to receive the 2017 Tyge Christensen Prize by the International Phycological Society

Alex Weiner with his winning poster

MCIBS student Alex Weiner takes home international poster award

"Endosomes Dock Wnt Signaling Proteins at Dendrite Branch Points to Organize Local Microtubule Nucleation Sites" won first prize at the 2018 Mechanisms of Neuronal Remodelling Conference in Ein Gedi, Israel.

Sreenidhi Srinivasan with her award-winning poster "Development of a peptide-based skin test for the diagnosis of Bovine Tuberculosis"

MCIBS student wins poster awards at conference

Sreenidhi Srinivasan won Best Poster and the Brenda Love Bacteriology Award at the 2018 AAVLD Conference.

Dr. Janet Iwasa presents at the Center for Cellular Dynamics' "Art of Cellular Biology" event

Innovative meeting brings scientists and artists together

The University of Utah’s Dr. Janet Iwasa headlined the “Art of Cellular Biology” event.

Meeting co-organizer and BMB Professor Joe Reese presents Feiyue Lu with the BBA-Gene Regulatory Mechanisms Poster Award

MCIBS Grad Student Feiyue Lu Wins Symposium Poster Award

Feiyue Lu's poster was chosen by symposium participants.