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Sometimes in science no news is good news

Sometimes finding out what doesn?t matter in science is just as important as finding what does. That?s the case for a study that looked at the function of the viral protein, MTase1. Researchers found that the rate of virus replication in tissue culture was not affected when MTase1 was removed. The finding is important as researchers look for what proteins are essential and how they function in cells, potentially providing answers to everything from insect control to the control of human diseases such as smallpox.

Scientists Map ‘Human Kinome’

A California research team has mapped an entire group of human enzymes, providing important information for the development of a new generation of drugs to treat cancer and other diseases. The findings will be published in the Dec. 6 issue of Science. In the study, the team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the biotechnology company SUGEN created a detailed catalog of the 518 protein kinase genes encoded by the human genome. Protein kinases are among the most important regulators of cell behavior. By chemically adding phosphate groups to other proteins, they control the activity of up to 30 percent of all cellular proteins, and are involved in almost all cellular functions.

Scientists Eavesdrop on Cellular Conversations by Making Mice ‘Glow’

Scientists have coupled the protein that makes fireflies glow with a device similar to a home video camera to eavesdrop on cellular conversations in living mice. The team’s research will allow scientists to study how cellular proteins talk to one another. These communications trigger changes that regulate a healthy body and cause disease when the signals go awry. The findings may speed development of new drugs for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurological diseases.