The role of the cellular entry point of anthrax is identified

Anthrax uses a receptor on the surface of cells to inject its lethal toxins. The team led by Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan discovers the physiological function of this receptor, named Anthrax Toxin Receptor 2a (Antxr2a). These results, presented in Nature Cell Biology on December 2, 2012, reveal that Antxr2a actually plays a role in the embryonic development, orienting cell division along a specific plane, which is a prelude to the formation of future tissues and organs.

Press release

Article

A mechanism for the transformation of colon polyps is identified

In order to better determine the origin and the sequence of events responsible for the onset of colon cancer, the team led by Thanos Halazonetis has sequenced the DNA of biopsied tissue from colon polyps. The results show that in this type of lesion, the rate of progression from a precancerous state to the tumor stage accelerates over time.The study, published December 1, 2012 in Cancer Research, also designates mutations in three specific genes as being the likely initiators of the progression towards malignancy.

Press Release

Article

Physics play dice during embryonic development

The team of Michel Milinkovitch discovers an original random process in the domain of life sciences. The study performed by the researchers, reported in Science on November 30, 2012, reveals that the facial scales of crocodile emerge from a random physical process of cracking of the skin during embryonic development. Unlike other keratinized skin appendages, forms generated do not result from a genetically programmed growth. These results open a new path, that of exploring subtle interactions between genetic and physical parameters in animal development.

Press release (in French)

Video from Science Demonstration of in-house developed tools for marking and analyzing various features directly on animals 3D models

Article in Science News

Original article

Towards a genetic map of the microscopic living world

Jan Pawlowski and Colomban de Vargas are leading an international program involving 24 institutions and whose goal is to establish an inventory of eukaryotic microorganisms, using DNA barcodes. This comprehensive initiative, detailed in PLoS Biology on November 6, 2012, will allow researchers to survey the immense diversity of protists and therein identify unknown species to ultimately assess their role in ecosystems.

Press release

Article

Watching the cogwheels of the biological clock in living cells

DBP, a protein whose expression fluctuates daily, regulates various genes involved in the inactivation of toxic substances ingested with food. The group of Ueli Schibler deciphered how the ‘clock genes’ control the rhythmic production of DBP in individual living cells. These molecular cogwheels were described in Molecular Cell on October 26, 2012.

Press release

Article