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Caltech Researchers Identify Genes and Brain Centers That Regulate Meal Size in Flies

Kathy Svitil

Biologists from Caltech and Yale University have identified two genes, the leucokinin neuropeptide and the leucokinin receptor, that appear to regulate meal sizes and frequency in fruit flies. Both genes have mammalian counterparts that seem to play a similar role in food intake, indicating that the steps that control meal size and meal frequency are not just behaviorally similar but are controlled by the same genes throughout the animal kingdom.


Flower Organ's Cells Make Random Decisions that Determine Size

Lori Oliwenstein

The sepals of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana—commonly known as the mouse-eared cress—are characterized by an outer layer of cells that vary widely in their sizes, and are distributed in equally varied patterns and proportions. Scientists have long wondered how the plant regulates cell division to create these patterns. Melding time-lapse imaging and computer modeling, a team of scientists led by biologists from Caltech has provided a somewhat unexpected answer to this question.



Caltech-led Team Uncovers New Functions of Mitochondrial Fusion

Lori Oliwenstein
A typical human cell contains hundreds of mitochondria—energy-producing organelles—that continually fuse and divide. Relatively little is known, however, about why mitochondria undergo this behavior. Now, scientists at the Caltech have taken steps toward a fuller understanding of this process by revealing just what happens to the organelle, its DNA (mtDNA), and its energy-producing ability when mitochondrial fusion fails.

Caltech Scientists Uncover Structure of Key Protein in Common HIV Subgroup

Lori Oliwenstein

Scientists from the Caltech have provided the first-ever glimpse of the structure of a key protein—gp120—found on the surface of a specific subgroup of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1. In addition, they demonstrated that a particular antibody to gp120 makes contact not only with the protein, but with the CD4 receptor that gp120 uses to gain entrance into the body's T cells.



Caltech-led Team Provides Proof in Humans of RNA Interference Using Targeted Nanoparticles

Jon Weiner

A Caltech-led team of researchers and clinicians has published the first proof that a targeted nanoparticle—used as an experimental therapeutic and injected directly into a patient's bloodstream—can traffic into tumors, deliver double-stranded small interfering RNAs, and turn off an important cancer gene using a mechanism known as RNA interference. Moreover, the team demonstrated that this new type of therapy can make its way to human tumors in a dose-dependent fashion.


Caltech and UCSD Scientists Establish Leech as Model for Study of Reproductive Behavior

Kathy Svitil


Researchers at Caltech and the University of California, San Diego have discovered that injecting a simple hormone into leeches creates a novel way to study how hormones and the nervous system work together to produce species-specific reproductive behavior. A paper describing the work appears in the March 11 online edition of the journal Current Biology.



Caltech Receives More than $33 Million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Jon Weiner

Research in genomic sciences, astronomy, seismology, and neuroeconomics are some of the many projects being funded at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


Caltech Researchers Obtain First Brain Recordings from Behaving Fruit Flies

Kathy Svitil

Researchers at Caltech have obtained the first recordings of brain-cell activity in an actively flying fruit fly. The work—by Michael Dickinson, the Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering, with postdoctoral scholars Gaby Maimon and Andrew Straw—suggests that at least part of the brain of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) "is in a different and more sensitive state during flight than when the fly is quiescent," Dickinson says.


Caltech Researchers Revise Long-Held Theory of Fruit-Fly Development

Lori Oliwenstein

For decades, science texts have told a simple and straightforward story about a particular protein—a transcription factor—that helps the embryo of the fruit fly pattern tissues in a manner that depends on the levels of this factor within individual cells. Now Angelike Stathopoulos and her Caltech colleagues have called that paradigm into question.


Caltech, UCLA Launch Joint Center for Translational Medicine

Jon Weiner

Caltech and UCLA have announced the establishment of the Joint Center for Translational Medicine (JCTM), which will advance experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and therapy of diseases such as cancer.