Photo
scinewsnetwork:

How Do Sperm Recognize Eggs? Mechanism Finally Found
It’s the stuff of 3rd-grade sex ed: sperm meets egg to make baby. But, surprisingly, scientists have actually been in the dark about one crucial step: how the two sex cells recognize each other amidst the fluid frenzy in the Fallopian tubes. Now researchers have announced that they’ve found the missing piece of this fertilization puzzle, and that the discovery could lead to individualized fertility treatments and hormone-free birth control.
Back in 2005, researchers found the first half of the the puzzle: a binding protein on the surface of sperm they called Izumol (after a Japanese marriage shrine). In the decade since then, scientists have been searching for Izumol’s counterpart on egg cells. Essentially, they’d found the plug but couldn’t locate the outlet.
Today researchers at Cambridge announced they’ve found that outlet: a receptor protein on the surface of the egg cell. They’ve found it on the eggs of pigs, opossums, mice and even humans.

Protein Match
Researchers found that the only receptor protein that matched up with the sperm protein was one that had already been discovered and named. Its true purpose had just been misunderstood. The receptor had been previously known as Folr4, and thought to be part of the folate-receptor family.
When researchers put unfertilized eggs in a petri dish and blocked their Folr4 receptors, sperm couldn’t latch on. And when researchers genetically modified female mice to lack Folr4, the mice were sterile.
And what’s even more, the discovery also helps explain how eggs limit themselves to just one sperm invader. By studying eggs fertilized in vitro,  researchers found that the Folr4 proteins had all been ejected from the surface of the cell by 30 minutes after fertilization and were floating around the membrane, no longer able to bind with the proteins on the sperm.

The Izumol protein on the surface of the sperm pairs up with the Folr4 (Juno) protein on the unfertilized egg. Once fusion occurs, the egg spits out the remaining Juno proteins to prevent multiple sperm from fertilizing the same egg. Image credit: Nature

Pregnancy on Demand
Understanding how the fertilization process starts is big news—it could lead to specialized fertility treatments as well as non-hormonal birth control. Such a crucial role calls for a name change: The researchers have now dubbed the protein Juno (in honor of the Roman goddess of marriage, or, perhaps, more appropriately, for the 2007 academy award-winning film of the same name).
A simple genetic test could determine if a woman’s infertility is due to a lack of Juno proteins, allowing her to skip all the preliminary fertility treatments that won’t work in her case, and cutting right to the manual injection of sperm. Likewise with contraception, knowing the critical role of this particular protein means that blocking it can render sperm powerless.
Now that scientists have found the two halves of this puzzle, which theypublished in Nature today, their next step is discovering what other proteins are at play when the sperm and egg actually fuse.
source

To read the full text, check out Nature in print on the third floor of the library.  It should be available soon!

scinewsnetwork:

How Do Sperm Recognize Eggs? Mechanism Finally Found

It’s the stuff of 3rd-grade sex ed: sperm meets egg to make baby. But, surprisingly, scientists have actually been in the dark about one crucial step: how the two sex cells recognize each other amidst the fluid frenzy in the Fallopian tubes. Now researchers have announced that they’ve found the missing piece of this fertilization puzzle, and that the discovery could lead to individualized fertility treatments and hormone-free birth control.

Back in 2005, researchers found the first half of the the puzzle: a binding protein on the surface of sperm they called Izumol (after a Japanese marriage shrine). In the decade since then, scientists have been searching for Izumol’s counterpart on egg cells. Essentially, they’d found the plug but couldn’t locate the outlet.

Today researchers at Cambridge announced they’ve found that outlet: a receptor protein on the surface of the egg cell. They’ve found it on the eggs of pigs, opossums, mice and even humans.

Protein Match

Researchers found that the only receptor protein that matched up with the sperm protein was one that had already been discovered and named. Its true purpose had just been misunderstood. The receptor had been previously known as Folr4, and thought to be part of the folate-receptor family.

When researchers put unfertilized eggs in a petri dish and blocked their Folr4 receptors, sperm couldn’t latch on. And when researchers genetically modified female mice to lack Folr4, the mice were sterile.

And what’s even more, the discovery also helps explain how eggs limit themselves to just one sperm invader. By studying eggs fertilized in vitro,  researchers found that the Folr4 proteins had all been ejected from the surface of the cell by 30 minutes after fertilization and were floating around the membrane, no longer able to bind with the proteins on the sperm.

juno receptor protein unfertilized eggs

The Izumol protein on the surface of the sperm pairs up with the Folr4 (Juno) protein on the unfertilized egg. Once fusion occurs, the egg spits out the remaining Juno proteins to prevent multiple sperm from fertilizing the same egg. Image credit: Nature

Pregnancy on Demand

Understanding how the fertilization process starts is big news—it could lead to specialized fertility treatments as well as non-hormonal birth control. Such a crucial role calls for a name change: The researchers have now dubbed the protein Juno (in honor of the Roman goddess of marriage, or, perhaps, more appropriately, for the 2007 academy award-winning film of the same name).

A simple genetic test could determine if a woman’s infertility is due to a lack of Juno proteins, allowing her to skip all the preliminary fertility treatments that won’t work in her case, and cutting right to the manual injection of sperm. Likewise with contraception, knowing the critical role of this particular protein means that blocking it can render sperm powerless.

Now that scientists have found the two halves of this puzzle, which theypublished in Nature today, their next step is discovering what other proteins are at play when the sperm and egg actually fuse.

source

To read the full text, check out Nature in print on the third floor of the library.  It should be available soon!

Tags: biology
Video

jtotheizzoe:

In honor of today’s Boston Marathon, and in remembrance of last year’s, check out all the amazing evolutionary adaptations and biological wonders that let us run marathons: The Science of Marathons!

Tags: kinesiology
Video

scinewsnetwork:

Fermi data offer clues to dark matter

A new study of gamma-ray light from the center of our galaxy makes the strongest case to date that some of this emission may arise from dark matter, an unknown substance making up most of the material universe. Using public data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, independent scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Chicago have developed new maps showing that the Galactic center produces more high-energy gamma rays than can be explained by known sources and that this excess emission is consistent with some forms of dark matter.

“The new maps allow us to analyze the excess and test whether more conventional explanations, such as the presence of undiscovered pulsars or cosmic-ray collisions on gas clouds, can account for it,” said Dan Hooper, an astrophysicist at Fermilab and a co-author of the study. “The signal we find cannot be explained by currently proposed alternatives and is in close agreement with the predictions of very simple dark matter models.”

This animation zooms into an image of the Milky Way, shown in visible light, and superimposes a gamma-ray map of the galactic center from NASA’s Fermi. Raw data transitions to a view with all known sources removed, revealing a gamma-ray excess hinting at the presence of dark matter.

“We’re working hard to come up with ways to confirm whether or not this signal is indeed from dark matter,” said co-author Douglas Finkbeiner, a Harvard professor of astronomy and physics at CfA.

The center of the Milky Way teems with gamma-ray sources, from interacting binary systems and isolated pulsars to supernova remnants and particles colliding with interstellar gas. It’s also where astronomers expect to find the Galaxy’s highest density of dark matter, which only affects normal matter and radiation through its gravity. Large amounts of dark matter attract normal matter, forming a foundation upon which visible structures, like galaxies, are built.

source

Tags: physics
Photoset

txchnologist:

The Chance To Dance Again

by Michael Keller

We highlighted the TED talk of Hugh Herr a couple of weeks ago. But his work is too important and beautiful to leave to just one post.

The MIT associate professor of media arts and sciences is making prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons that restore function in those who have lost legs from injury or disease. This set of gifs focuses on his team’s BiOM powered ankle and foot prosthesis

"Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster," he said during the talk. "Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics."

To prove his point, Herr and fellow researchers studied dance movement to replace the lower leg that professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost after last year’s Boston marathon bombing. He concluded his talk by bringing Haslet-Davis on the stage to perform a bionic rumba. 

Read More

(via wildcat2030)

Link

laboratoryequipment:

Spectroscopy solutions for food and environmental apps and advanced hybrid systems took center stage at Pittcon 2014.

The 65th annual Pittsburgh Conference and Exposition on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) brought together more than 16,200 conferees and exhibitor personnel…

Tags: chemistry
Photoset

skunkbear:

First prize in Science’s Visualization Challenge (video category) went to this NASA video by Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, and Tom Bridgman. It shows Earth’s “climate engine” — the wind patterns and ocean currents that are powered by the sun.

(via scientificillustration)

Photo
laboratoryequipment:

Book Aims to Guide Decisions on Shale GasThe new book, “Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale,” attempts to offer a reader-friendly, unbiased, scientific guide needed to make well-informed decisions regarding energy use and, more specifically, hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.The 252-page book was published recently by the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), a Cornell affiliate. It was co-authored by Robert Ross, paleobiologist and associate director of outreach at PRI; Don Duggan-Haas, PRI educational researcher; and Warren Allmon, Cornell professor of paleontology and executive director of PRI/Museum of the Earth. It includes contributions by educators Kelly Cronin, Trisha Smrecak and Sara Perry.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/book-aims-guide-decisions-shale-gas

Local research!

laboratoryequipment:

Book Aims to Guide Decisions on Shale Gas

The new book, “Science Beneath the Surface: A Very Short Guide to the Marcellus Shale,” attempts to offer a reader-friendly, unbiased, scientific guide needed to make well-informed decisions regarding energy use and, more specifically, hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.

The 252-page book was published recently by the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), a Cornell affiliate. It was co-authored by Robert Ross, paleobiologist and associate director of outreach at PRI; Don Duggan-Haas, PRI educational researcher; and Warren Allmon, Cornell professor of paleontology and executive director of PRI/Museum of the Earth. It includes contributions by educators Kelly Cronin, Trisha Smrecak and Sara Perry.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/book-aims-guide-decisions-shale-gas

Local research!

Photo
neurosciencestuff:

Research sheds new light on impact of diabetes on the brain
The new findings published in the Diabetes Care journal reveal the extent of damage patients suffering with the disease can endure in areas of the brain called ‘grey matter’ – a key component of the central nervous system which is involved in touch and pain sensory perception.
During the study, which involved patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, researchers used recent advances in ground breaking brain imaging and analyses methods to take detailed nerve assessments of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.
This revealed that the volume of certain brain regions in people with diabetic neuropathy was significantly lower compared to those without the disease. Previous studies have shown that the impact of the disease on the brain is limited and isolated to outside areas of the brain considered to be peripheral to core functions in the body.
The breakthrough could pave the way for better assessment and monitoring of the disease, which affects around a third of people with diabetes. This, in turn, could lead to better treatments for sufferers in the future.
Read more

neurosciencestuff:

Research sheds new light on impact of diabetes on the brain

The new findings published in the Diabetes Care journal reveal the extent of damage patients suffering with the disease can endure in areas of the brain called ‘grey matter’ – a key component of the central nervous system which is involved in touch and pain sensory perception.

During the study, which involved patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, researchers used recent advances in ground breaking brain imaging and analyses methods to take detailed nerve assessments of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

This revealed that the volume of certain brain regions in people with diabetic neuropathy was significantly lower compared to those without the disease. Previous studies have shown that the impact of the disease on the brain is limited and isolated to outside areas of the brain considered to be peripheral to core functions in the body.

The breakthrough could pave the way for better assessment and monitoring of the disease, which affects around a third of people with diabetes. This, in turn, could lead to better treatments for sufferers in the future.

Read more

Photoset

nybg:

skunkbear:

Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

The scales of a butterfly resemble the very flower petals they tend to alight on. Or the scales of a fish. Depends on how poetic you’re feeling.

Can’t wait to see the lepidoptera returning to the Perennial Garden for warmer months. —MN

Tags: biology
Photo
laboratoryequipment:

Specific Gene Controls Strawberry SweetnessIf you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.Two studies, published in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavor of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others. The gene, FaFAD1, controls a key flavor volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as fruity, sweet or peachy and contributes to fruit aroma.Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/specific-gene-controls-strawberry-sweetness

laboratoryequipment:

Specific Gene Controls Strawberry Sweetness

If you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.

Two studies, published in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavor of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others. The gene, FaFAD1, controls a key flavor volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as fruity, sweet or peachy and contributes to fruit aroma.

Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/04/specific-gene-controls-strawberry-sweetness