Rome, 16 October 2018 Deleting genes to study how germ cells are born With multiple fluorescent reporters of different colours, the team around Jamie Hackett – group leader at EMBL Rome – were able to track the development of pluripotent stem cells into germ cells. Germ cells are a critical cell-type since they develop into sperm or eggs, which establish each new generation. The scientists used a modified CRISPR-technique – CRISPR screening – to delete in turn each of the 21,000 genes in the mouse genome and study the effect of their absence on germ cell development. They identified 23 genes that are likely important for germ cells to develop, greatly extending the number of previously known genes.
Grenoble, 15 October 2018 Transcription factors controlled by DNA sequence In cells, DNA exists in a highly compact form. The scaffolding that enables this packaging of the DNA is made of proteins known as histones. More than 50 years ago, it became apparent that chemical modifications to these proteins are associated with gene activation. One example of such a modification is acetylation – the addition of an acetyl chemical group. However, precisely how cellular signals initiate this modification remained unclear. To reveal the underlying mechanism, a team led by Daniel Panne – a former group leader at EMBL Grenoble – combined biochemical and structural studies with molecular modelling.
General, 9 October 2018 EMBL in the UK: Wendy Bickmore In May 2018, researchers and EMBL alumni in the UK gathered in Edinburgh to learn about EMBL research, training and services, and to strengthen their scientific networks. Wendy Bickmore, the director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh was invited to the event to reflect on her longstanding associations with EMBL and its researchers.
General, 8 October 2018 Excellent alumni The organisers of the EMBL in Norway event at the University of Oslo, Gareth Griffiths and Rein Aasland, were presented with the “Volunteer of the Year” award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in August 2018. Rein is currently the head of the Department of Biosciences at the University of Oslo, as well as the vice-president of the Human Frontier Science Program. Gareth is a group leader in Rein’s department and has been the chair of the EMBL Alumni Association board since 2016.
General, 5 October 2018 EMBL in Finland: Marja Makarow On 5 October, more than 170 Finnish researchers and EMBL alumni gathered at the Biomedicum in Helsinki to discover and share the latest scientific opportunities available at EMBL’s six sites. Here Marja Makarow, director of Biocenter Finland and event co-organiser, talks about her own scientific journey. During her long-standing career, Marja has fostered international and diverse research environments – and she was keen to share these experiences with scientists throughout Finland.
General, 4 October 2018 EMBL in Spain: Lola Ledesma More than 100 EMBL alumni and researchers in Spain came together on 8 October at the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) in Madrid to build new networks and share ideas. EMBL alumna, Lola Ledesma, co-organised this event alongside alumni Jose María Almendral and Luis Menéndez-Arias. In the lead up to this event, Lola spoke about her current research at CBMSO and the importance of doing research abroad.
Heidelberg, 1 October 2018 Ageing is visible in the way cells use glucose A research team from EMBL and Heidelberg University has studied the molecular features of ageing in human blood stem cells. The most prominent finding is that the sugar metabolism of stem cells increases with age – a change similar to that observed in cancer cells. This is coupled with a decline in stem cell functionality and in immune defense.Their results, published in Nature Communications on 1st October 2018, serve as an important reference for further studies on the molecular mechanisms of ageing in humans. The paper’s first authors are Marco L. Hennrich, mass spectrometrist at EMBL, Natalie Romanov, predoctoral fellow in bioinformatics at EMBL, and Patrick Horn, cell biologist at Heidelberg University.
General, 27 September 2018 Looking for life using geobiology A diverse band of researchers, with interests in areas such as astrobiology, the origins of life, and the way organisms adapt to extreme environments, came together at EMBL’s Advanced Training Centre from 26-31 August. They were here for the EMBO Practical Course ‘Molecular Geobiology’. This was the first EMBO course on geobiology and the first to involve an element of fieldwork, with participants travelling to the Ries impact structure in Bavaria to take rock samples and test them for the presence of microbial species. Here, the scientific organisers and speaker Antonio Lazcano discuss the course and their research interests.
General, 20 September 2018 Promega joins EMBL’s Corporate Partnership Programme EMBL warmly welcomes Promega, a global leader offering more than 4000 products in the fields of genomics, protein analysis and expression, cellular analysis, drug discovery and genetics, to the EMBL Advanced Training Centre Corporate Partnership Programme. “Promega and EMBL will collaborate to support young scientists interested in drug discovery and chemical biology,” says Joe Lewis, Head of EMBL’s Chemical Biology Core Facility.
Heidelberg, 17 September 2018 Solving the structure of retromer An international research team has published the full 3D structure of retromer: a molecular machine that sorts and packs cargo at the cell’s logistics hub. They used cryo-electron tomography to reveal the structure of the retromer complex, allowing a greater understanding of how this molecular machine works. To achieve this, researchers in John Briggs’ group – formerly at EMBL and now at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) – collaborated with scientists at the University of Queensland, the University of Cambridge, and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry. They publish their findings in Nature on 17 September 2018.