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New Form of Electron-beam Imaging Can See Elements that are ‘Invisible’ to Common Methods

At right, this colorized image produced by a Berkeley Lab-developed electron imaging technique called STEM shows details of nanoscale gold particles and also a carbon film (blue). At left, an colorized image from a more conventional electron-based technique called ADF-STEM is mostly blind to the carbon material. (Colin Ophus/Berkeley Lab)

A new Berkeley Lab-developed electron-beam imaging technique, tested on samples of nanoscale gold and carbon, greatly improves images of light elements. The technique can reveal structural details for materials that would be overlooked by some traditional methods.

Scientists Take Key Step Toward Custom-made Nanoscale Chemical Factories

The shell of a bacterial microcompartment (or BMC) is mainly composed of hexagonal proteins, with pentagonal proteins capping the vertices, similar to a soccer ball (left). Scientists have engineered one of these hexagonal proteins, normally devoid of any metal center, to bind an iron-sulfur cluster (orange and yellow sticks, upper right). This cluster can serve as an electron relay to transfer electrons across the shell. Introducing this new functionality in the shell of a BMC greatly expands their possibilities as custom-made bio-nanoreactors. (Credit: Clément Aussignargues/MSU, Cheryl Kerfeld and Markus Sutter/Berkeley Lab)

Scientists have for the first time reengineered a building block of a geometric nanocompartment that occurs naturally in bacteria. The new design provides an entirely new functionality that greatly expands the potential for these compartments to serve as custom-made chemical factories.

New Weapon in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

184AA3, a xenograft model of ER+ breast adenocarcinoma, is the first clinically-relevant mouse model to generate tumors that bear a striking resemblance to the class of tumors found in the vast majority of women with breast cancer.

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed the first clinically-relevant mouse model of human breast cancer to successfully express functional estrogen receptor positive adenocarcinomas.
This model should be a powerful tool for testing therapies for aggressive ER+ breast cancers and for studying luminal cancers — the most prevalent and deadliest forms of breast cancer.

Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy:

3HM nanocarriers for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a new family of nanocarriers, called “3HM,” that meets all the size and stability requirements for effectively delivering therapeutic drugs to the brain for the treatment of a deadly form of cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme.

It Takes a Thief

The overall architecture of Cas1–Cas2 bound to protospacer DNA with line segments that indicate DNA lengths spanning a total of 33 nucleotides.

The discovery by Berkeley Lab researchers of the structural basis by which bacteria are able to capture genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological system holds promise for studying or correcting problems in human genomes.

Atomic View of Microtubules

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Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley researchers produced an atomic view of microtubules that enabled them to identify the crucial role played by a family of end-binding proteins in regulating microtubule dynamic instability, the physical property that enables microtubules to play a crucial role in cell division.

Unlocking the Rice Immune System

Rice is a staple for half the world’s population and the model plant for grass-type biofuel feedstocks (Photo courtesy of IRRI)

JBEI, UC Davis and Berkeley Lab researchers have identified a bacterial signaling molecule that triggers an immunity response in rice plants, enabling the plants to resist a devastating blight disease. Rice is not only a staple food, it is the model for grass-type advanced biofuels.

Possible New RNA Engineering Tool

Eva Nogales feature image

Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that complexes of proteins touted for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA might also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Skin Tough

Robert Ritchie feature star

A collaboration of Berkeley Lab and UC San Diego researchers has recorded the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms behind the ability of skin to resist tearing. The results could be applied to the improvement of artificial skin, or to the development of thin film polymers for flexible electronics.

Turn the Light On: A Non-visual Opsin Could Help Future Studies of the Brain and Central Nervous System

Udi Zebrafish

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation in the central nervous system.