JBC: Pulling apart the cytoskeleton


Maintaining the shape of the cell, creating proper internal structure, guiding organelles and pulling chromosomes apart during mitosis are some of the important functions of the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is composed of three main structural components: actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments. In a series of thematic minireviews, the Journal of Biological Chemistry highlights what we know so far about the cytoskeleton.

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JBC: Reproductive assist


We don’t know if a sperm actually experiences joy when it finally finds the egg, but it does wiggle excitedly. Patricia A. Martin–DeLeon, a reproductive biologist at the University of Delaware, has witnessed this behavior many times in her studies of fertility in mice, the closest genetic model to humans (and with a much faster reproductive cycle). In a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Martin–DeLeon and her team revealed for the first time what happens next in the fertilization process. They said the finding could one day help couples struggling with infertility.

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MCP: Digging into grass sickness


Each year in the U.K., about 2 percent of horses die from grass sickness. No one knows what causes the disease, but it does occur almost exclusively in grass-fed animals, including ponies and donkeys. A similar disease is thought to afflict dogs, cats, rabbits, hares, llamas and possibly sheep. Researchers recently reported their analysis of tissue samples taken from horses stricken with the disease in the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. In their attempt to understand what happens at the molecular level of equine grass sickness, the researchers found misfolded and dysregulated proteins in the tissues that resembled those found in human neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

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JLR: Regulating fatty tissue


Many of us have gone on diets to decrease body fat. But what if you needed to put on fat? People born with Berardinelli–Seip congenital lipodystrophy would do anything to gain just a few pounds. Patients suffering from the disease have mutations in their BSCL2 gene that result in a lack of fatty tissue in the body and a lack of functioning adipoctyes for lipid storage. They develop insulin resistance, accumulate fat in both muscle and the liver, and are prone to type 2 diabetes. Recently, the role of Bscl2 regulation in mature adipocyte maintenance was investigated and the results described in the Journal of Lipid Research.

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JBC: Actions of iron-dependent dioxygenases


Essential cellular processes including protein modification, DNA damage repair and epigenetic regulation require the activity of α-ketoglutarate (2-oxoglutarate or 2OG) and other iron-dependent oxygenases. The eighth of the Journal of Biological Chemistry’s thematic series on metals in biology features key topics related to this class of oxygenases.

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