• Mistakes can be good

    Mistakes are rarely rewarded. Intuitively, one would imagine that a shoddy typist at an office who keeps generating typos would either quickly lose their job, or at least be overlooked for promotion. The idea that this person could in fact benefit from being shoddy and rise above others professionally is counter intuitive, and yet we see this in cells! Like humans, cells too constantly make mistakes. Most of the work within cells is carried out by biomolecules called proteins; without these, cells would not exist.

  • The need for speed: Zebrafish study at NCBS

    Whether running away from a predator or to win an Olympic gold, how fast we run determines the final outcome. Locomotion is produced when limb muscles contract in a co-ordinated fashion. This, in turn, is caused by electrical impulses sent by nerve cells called motor neurons located in the spinal cord. Earlier work showed that based on an animal’s momentary needs, brain circuits select a suitable course of action and set the frequency of motion. Then, just like engaging gears in an automobile, spinal ‘speed’ modules are selectively activated to achieve a certain speed.

  • NCBS researchers develop test to detect a virus in cancer cells

    Scientists from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, have developed a test to detect the presence of Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) in Merkel cell carcinomas.

  • NCBS team finds how microRNA gene regulators are generated in plants

     Image: miRNAs stop specific mRNAs from making proteins. This study shows how specific sequences (shown in black stars) in the hairpin loops from which miRNAs originate are essential for the selection of miRNA regions.

     

  • Bacteria get free lunch with butterflies and dragonflies

    For humans, trade is second nature and civilizations have flourished and fallen with the fate of their trade. In fact, the mutual scratching of backs is a cornerstone of many animal societies. On the other hand, deep and sustained mutualisms across species were long thought to be quirks of evolution, where radically different players managed to stick together and trade for mutual benefit.

  • Visit by Dr Pascal Cossart and Dr Didier Roux

    Recently, the campus had the pleasure of hosting two eminent French scientists. Dr Pascale Cossart of the Institut Pasteur and Dr Didier Roux of the National Academy of Technologies of France spent time at the Cluster over two days this October.

  • The fly on the wall: ever wondered how it lands there?

    A new study from the National Centre of Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, has thrown some light on the mystery of how flies can land on vertical and upside-down surfaces. Sanjay Sane’s group at NCBS has shown that fly landing maneuvers have two distinct modules of behavior – deceleration and leg extension. The team has found that deceleration or slowing down, is like a reflex action, and sets in at a distance proportional to the speed of flight. In other words, at higher flight speeds, deceleration sets in earlier and further away from the landing surface.

  • Tumor of the touch cells: A first-of-its-kind study in India

    The cause of a disease often affects its treatment plan. The need to fill this gap in our understanding of disease biology is further exaggerated in the case of ‘rare’ diseases.

  • 25 years of learning to combat cervical cancer

    According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer affecting women worldwide. Currently, early screenings of pre-cancerous tissues and vaccination have proven to be the most effective treatment strategies. However, the lack of such interventions in developing nations has led to its high occurrence. Among the South East Asian nations alone, India has the highest incidence rate of cervical cancer.

  • Subtle changes, big effects

    Scientists have recently discovered the mechanism by which a minuscule change in 3 atoms in a protein molecule can affect immune signaling in cells. This ‘butterfly effect’ is used by the bacterium, Shigella flexneri, to survive within the host cells that it infects. Ranabir Das’ team at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, has found that a tiny change in the protein UBC13, caused by a bacterial enzyme, creates a cascade of small atomic alterations that add up until they prevent UBC13 from binding to a partner protein, TRAF6.

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