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What HIV Needs

La Jolla, CA – The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) only brings along a minimalist's survival gear and relies on its host cell to provide what's missing. Now, a new study provides novel insight into how the virus exploits cellular functions to take up house in infected cells.

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Salk Investigator Lei Wang Receives NIH New Innovator Award

La Jolla, CA – Salk researcher Dr. Lei Wang has been named a 2008 recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award. He joins a group of young scientists who will receive a portion of more than $138 million in support of innovative approaches to biomedical research.

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Looking versus seeing

La Jolla, CA – The superior colliculus has long been thought of as a rapid orienting center of the brain that allows the eyes and head to turn swiftly either toward or away from the sights and sounds in our environment. Now a team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that the superior colliculus does more than send out motor control commands to eye and neck muscles.

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Biologists Identify Genes Controlling Rhythmic Plant Growth

La Jolla, CA – A team of biologists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, UC San Diego, and Oregon State University has identified the genes that enable plants to undergo bursts of rhythmic growth at night and allow them to compete when their leaves are shaded by other plants.

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A second career for a growth factor receptor: keeping nerve axons on target

La Jolla, CA – Neurons constituting the optic nerve wire up to the brain in a highly dynamic way. Cell bodies in the developing retina sprout processes, called axons, which extend toward visual centers in the brain, lured by attractive cues and making U-turns when they take the wrong path. How they find targets so accurately is a central question of neuroscience today.

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How plants fine-tune their natural chemical defenses

La Jolla, CA – Even closely related plants produce their own natural chemical cocktails, each set uniquely adapted to the individual plant's specific habitat. Comparing anti-fungals produced by tobacco and henbane, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that only a few mutations in a key enzyme are enough to shift the whole output to an entirely new product mixture. Making fewer changes led to a mixture of henbane and tobacco-specific molecules and even so-called "chemical hybrids," explaining how plants can tinker with their natural chemical factories and adjust their product line to a changing environment without shutting down intracellular chemical factories completely.

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Salk researchers find master switch in the brain that regulates desire for food and ability to reproduce

La Jolla, CA – Body weight and fertility have long known to be related to each other – women who are too thin, for example, can have trouble becoming pregnant. Now, a master switch has been found in the brain of mice that controls both, and researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies say it may work the same way in humans.

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Keeping cells youthful: how telomere-building proteins get drawn into the fold

La Jolla, CA – It may take just one or two proteins to polish off a simple cellular task, but life-or-death matters, such as caring for the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres, require interacting crews of proteins, all with a common goal but each with a specialized task.

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Multi-tasking molecule holds key to allergic reactions

La Jolla, CA – As the summer approaches most of us rejoice, reach for the sunscreen and head outdoors. But an ever-growing number of people reach for tissue instead as pollen leaves eyes watering, noses running and spirits dwindling. Hay fever is just one of a host of hypersensitivity allergic diseases that cause suffering worldwide and others, such as severe reactions to bee stings or eating peanuts, can be more serious and even fatal.

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Distinguishing between two birds of a feather

La Jolla, CA – The bird enthusiast who chronicled the adventures of a flock of red-headed conures in his book "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" knows most of the parrots by name, yet most of us would be hard pressed to tell one bird from another. While it has been known for a long time that we can become acutely attuned to our day-to-day environment, the underlying neural mechanism has been less clear.

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