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Researchers ID New Mechanism for Keeping DNA Protein in Line

Electrostatic forces known as phosphate steering help guide the actions of an enzyme called FEN1 that is critical in DNA replication and repair, finds a new study led by Berkeley Lab researchers. The findings help explain how FEN1 distinguishes which strands of DNA to target, revealing key details about a vital process in healthy cells as well as providing new directions for cancer treatment research.

What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – and they’re not just bacteria. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

Study Sheds Light on How Bacterial Organelles Assemble

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle’s protein shell. This work could benefit research in bioenergy and pathogenesis, and it could lead to new methods of bioengineering bacteria for beneficial purposes.

Researchers Find New Mechanism for Genome Regulation

The mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of a part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new Berkeley Lab study. Researchers found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.

Researchers Find a Surprise Just Beneath the Surface in Carbon Dioxide Experiment

X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab, coupled with theoretical work, revealed how oxygen atoms embedded very near the surface of a copper sample had a more dramatic effect on the early stages of a reaction with carbon dioxide than earlier theories could account for. This work could prove useful in designing new types of materials to make reactions more efficient in converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuels and other products.

Sequencing of Green Alga Genome Provides Blueprint to Advance Clean Energy, Bioproducts

Scientists have sequenced the genome of a green alga that has drawn commercial interest as a strong producer of quality lipids for biofuel production. The chromosome-assembly genome of Chromochloris zofingiensis provides a blueprint for new discoveries in producing sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, and other valuable bioproducts.

Scientists Sequence Genome of Snail That Spreads Parasitic Worm

Scientists have characterized the genome of a freshwater snail that is instrumental in transmitting a parasitic worm to humans. The achievement could help researchers disrupt the life cycle of B. glabrata and potentially eliminate schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever.

Designing Cyclic Oligomers: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts

-Written By Lida Gifford Cyclic proteins that assemble from multiple identical subunits (homo-oligomers) play key roles in many biological processes, including cell signaling and enzymatic catalysis and protein function. Researchers in Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division worked with University of Washington’s David Baker, who led a team to design in silico

Five Berkeley Lab Scientists Among New Fellows Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced today the election of 188 fellows, five of whom are scientists at Berkeley Lab. The new Berkeley Lab fellows are Jamie Cate, Christopher Chang, Roger Falcone, Michael Witherell and Katherine Yelick. All hold joint faculty appointments at UC Berkeley.

Researchers Gain Insight into Protein Critical to Zika Virus Reproduction

Berkeley Lab researchers collaborated with colleagues from the University of Indiana and Texas A&M University to solve the atomic structure of a Zika virus protein that is key to viral reproduction. The X-ray studies were conducted at the Advanced Light Source in the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology.