‘Acidic patch’ regulates access to genetic information

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By Pooja Makhijani for the Department of Chemistry Chromatin remodelers — protein machines that pack and unpack chromatin, the tightly wound DNA-protein complex in cell nuclei — are essential and powerful regulators for critical cellular processes, such as replication, recombination and gene transcription and repression. In a new study published Aug. 2 in the journal Nature, … Continue reading ‘Acidic patch’ regulates access to genetic information

Flexibility is key in mechanism of biological self-assembly

https://youtu.be/QcNC2OAKTqw By Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research A new study has modeled a crucial first step in the self-assembly of cellular structures such as drug receptors and other protein complexes, and found that the flexibility of the structures has a dramatic impact on how fast they join together. The study, published this … Continue reading Flexibility is key in mechanism of biological self-assembly

Researchers’ Sudoku strategy democratizes powerful tool for genetics research (Nature Communications)

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Researchers at Princeton and Harvard Universities have developed a way to produce the tools for figuring out gene function faster and cheaper than current methods, according to new research in the journal Nature Communications. The function of sizable chunks of many organisms’ genomes is a mystery, and figuring out … Continue reading Researchers’ Sudoku strategy democratizes powerful tool for genetics research (Nature Communications)

Unconventional quasiparticles predicted in conventional crystals (Science)

By Staff An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of several previously unknown types of quantum particles in materials. The particles -- which belong to the class of particles known as fermions -- can be distinguished by several intrinsic properties, such as their responses to applied magnetic and electric fields. In several cases, … Continue reading Unconventional quasiparticles predicted in conventional crystals (Science)

Scientists capture the elusive structure of essential digestive enzyme (JACS)

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Using a powerful combination of techniques from biophysics to mathematics, researchers have revealed new insights into the mechanism of a liver enzyme that is critical for human health. The enzyme, phenylalanine hydroxylase, turns the essential amino acid phenylalanine – found in eggs, beef and many other foods and as … Continue reading Scientists capture the elusive structure of essential digestive enzyme (JACS)

Theorists smooth the way to solving one of quantum mechanics oldest problems: Modeling quantum friction (J. Phys. Chem. Letters)

By: Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Theoretical chemists at Princeton University have pioneered a strategy for modeling quantum friction, or how a particle’s environment drags on it, a vexing problem in quantum mechanics since the birth of the field. The study was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. “It was truly a most … Continue reading Theorists smooth the way to solving one of quantum mechanics oldest problems: Modeling quantum friction (J. Phys. Chem. Letters)

Chemical tracers reveal oxygen-dependent switch in cellular pathway to fat (Nature Chemical Biology)

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Using tracer compounds, scientists have been able to track the cellular production of NADPH, a key coenzyme for making fat, through a pathway that has never been measured directly before. By tracking this pathway, known as malic enzyme metabolism, which is one of a few recognized routes to make … Continue reading Chemical tracers reveal oxygen-dependent switch in cellular pathway to fat (Nature Chemical Biology)

Electrons slide through the hourglass on surface of bizarre material (Nature)

By Staff A team of researchers at Princeton University has predicted the existence of a new state of matter in which current flows only through a set of surface channels that resemble an hourglass. These channels are created through the action of a newly theorized particle, dubbed the "hourglass fermion," which arises due to a … Continue reading Electrons slide through the hourglass on surface of bizarre material (Nature)

How an artificial protein rescues dying cells (PNAS)

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry A new study from Princeton has revealed how a synthetic protein revives E. coli cells that lack a life-sustaining gene, offering insight into how life can adapt to survive and potentially be reinvented. Researchers in the Hecht lab discovered the unexpected way in which a synthetic protein called SynSerB … Continue reading How an artificial protein rescues dying cells (PNAS)

Study reveals mechanism behind enzyme that tags unneeded DNA (Nature Chem. Bio.)

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry Researchers have discovered the two-step process that activates an essential human enzyme, called Suv39h1, which is responsible for organizing large portions of the DNA found in every living cell. For any particular cell, such as a skin or brain cell, much of this genetic information is extraneous and must … Continue reading Study reveals mechanism behind enzyme that tags unneeded DNA (Nature Chem. Bio.)