The Cord Connects

Neurons from the retina of a rat form new branching sites and potential new connections with their neighbors (shown in yellow) under the influence of three large proteins isolated from cells of the human umbilical cord. These thrombospondin proteins come from the umbilical cells themselves, not cord blood. The lab of Cagla Eroglu in cell biology and neurobiology believes the molecules may have potential for treating degenerative eye diseases. Image credit: Sehwon Koh.

This is Your Brain on Binges

Only a few sessions of binge drinking during adolescence can knock out neurons (shown in blue arch) in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory core. New research in mice has also shown that teen binges can send astrocytes (shown in green) awry later in adulthood, potentially impairing the brain’s ability to form new synapses and heal itself from injury. In this split image, a normal mouse brain appears at left. On the right, a brain with stressed astrocytes after binges that would be the equivalent of a 0.15 blood alcohol level in humans.

Hot Bodies

To thrive in the high-temperature environment of a human host, the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans depends largely on the Ras1 protein. Connie Nichols, a research scientist in the Andrew Alspaugh lab in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology fused fluorescent proteins from jellyfish to Ras1 (red) and to a protein that helps it survive on the cell membrane called Pfa4 (green). Yellow spots indicate the two proteins are joined.


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