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Caltech Scientists Discover Aggression-Promoting Pheromone in Flies

Lori Oliwenstein

Have you ever found yourself struggling to get your order taken at a crowded bar or lunch counter, only to walk away in disgust as more aggressive customers elbow their way to the front? It turns out that flies do much the same thing, according to biologists from Caltech.


Caltech Scientists Show How Ubiquitin Chains are Added to Cell-Cycle Proteins

Lori Oliwenstein

Researchers from Caltech have been able to view in detail, and for the first time, the previously mysterious process by which long chains of a protein called ubiquitin are added by enzymes called ubiquitin ligases to proteins that control the cell cycle. Ubiquitin chains tag target proteins for destruction by protein-degrading complexes in the cell. Their findings, and the innovative process by which they were obtained, are described in this week's issue of Nature.


Caltech Scientists Find Emotion-like Behaviors, Regulated by Dopamine, in Fruit Flies

Lori Oliwenstein

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have uncovered evidence of a primitive emotion-like behavior in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Their findings, which may be relevant to the relationship between the neurotransmitter dopamine and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are described in the December issue of the journal Neuron.


Two Caltech Researchers Receive DARPA Young Faculty Awards

Kathy Svitil
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Julia R. Greer, assistant professor of materials science, and Doris Tsao, assistant professor of biology, to participate in its Young Faculty Award (YFA) program. Greer and Tsao are among the 33 "rising stars" from 24 U.S. universities who each will receive grants of approximately $300,000 to develop and validate their research ideas over the next 24 months.
Julia Greer

Caltech Researchers Show Efficacy of Gene Therapy in Mouse Models of Huntington's Disease

Lori Oliwenstein

Researchers at Caltech have shown that a highly specific intrabody (an antibody fragment that works against a target inside a cell) is capable of stalling the development of Huntington's disease in a variety of mouse models. "Gene therapy in these models successfully attenuated the symptoms of Huntington's disease and increased life span," notes Paul Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences. 


Cells in developing tissue consider their signaling exposure history to determine location

Sonia Chernobieff

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have proposed a novel model that differs from a widely held hypothesis about the mechanisms by which developing animals pattern their tissues and structures. 


Caltech Scientists Get Detailed Glimpse of Chemoreceptor Architecture in Bacterial Cells

Lori Oliwenstein

Using state-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques, a team led by researchers from Caltech has for the first time visualized and described the precise arrangement of chemoreceptors—the receptors that sense and respond to chemical stimuli—in bacteria. In addition, they have found that this specific architecture is the same throughout a wide variety of bacterial species, which means that this is a stable, universal structure that has been conserved over evolutionary time.


Caltech Researchers Pinpoint Neurons that Control Obesity in Fruit Flies

Lori Oliwenstein

A team of scientists from Caltech have pinpointed two groups of neurons in fruit fly brains that have the ability to sense and manipulate the fly's fat stores in much the same way as do neurons in the mammalian brain. The existence of this sort of control over fat deposition and metabolic rates makes the flies a potentially useful model for the study of human obesity, the researchers note.


Caltech Scientists Help Launch the First Standard Graphical Notation for Biology

Kathy Svitil

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues in 30 laboratories worldwide have released a new set of standards for graphically representing biological information—the biology equivalent of the circuit diagram in electronics. This visual language should make it easier to exchange complex information, so that biological models are depicted more accurately, consistently, and in a more readily understandable way.  


Caltech-led Team Shows How Evolution Can Allow for Large Developmental Leaps

Lori Oliwenstein

Most evolutionary changes happen in tiny increments. But when it comes to traits like the number of wings on an insect, or limbs on a primate, there is no middle ground. How are these sorts of large evolutionary leaps made? According to a team led by scientists at Caltech, such changes may at least sometimes be the result of random fluctuations, or noise (nongenetic variations), working alongside a phenomenon known as partial penetrance.