06/10/2013 - 10:21

The mechanism responsible for generating part of the skeletal support for the membrane in animal cells is not yet clearly understood. Now, Jean-François Joanny from the Physico Chemistry Curie Unit at the Curie Institute in Paris and colleagues have found that a well-defined layer beneath the cell outer membrane forms beyond a certain critical level of stress generated by motor proteins within the cellular system. These findings, which offer a new understanding of the formation of this so-called cortical layer, have just been published in EPJ E.

01/31/2013 - 11:39

It takes a lot to make a memory. New proteins have to be synthesized, neuron structures altered. While some of these memory-building mechanisms are known, many are not. Some recent studies have indicated that a unique group of molecules called microRNAs, known to control production of proteins in cells, may play a far more important role in memory formation than previously thought.

01/28/2013 - 13:30

The plasma membranes that give cells their shapes are typically upheld by linear meshworks of the protein actin. In contrast, Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have now discovered that periodic ring-shaped actin arrangements encircle the long axonal fibers of nerve cells.

07/20/2012 - 16:03

Muscle contraction and many other movement processes are controlled by the interplay between myosin and actin filaments. Two further proteins, tropomyosin and troponin, regulate how myosin binds to actin. While theoretical models have in fact described exactly how these muscle proteins interact, this interaction has never previously been observed in detail.

11/16/2011 - 09:21

Supplied with sufficient energy, a freight train would ride the rails as far as they go. But nature also knows systems whose dynamics suddenly turn into a kind of endless loop. Like in a hamster wheel, a train caught up in such a system would continue running, but without moving forward. Scientists from the Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich have now succeeded in building a simple model system consisting of only three components to study the laws of such so-called absorbing states.