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Bone marrow cells hand natural killer cells their license to attack dangerous invaders

La Jolla, CA – A collaboration between scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Pasteur Institute in Paris has uncovered the molecular signals that trigger maturation of natural killer cells, an important group of immune system cells, into fully armed killing machines. Their findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature Immunology.


Striking the right balance between excitation and inhibition

La Jolla, CA – Neurons in the brain and spinal cord come in two flavors, excitatory neurons that transmit and amplify signals, and inhibitory neurons that inhibit and refine those signals. Although investigators have long appreciated that these two classes of neurons exist in the central nervous system, little is known about how cells decide to become inhibitory or excitatory during embryonic development. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have now uncovered a pathway that plays a central role in regulating this choice.


Salk research suggests the existence of specialized neurons that distinguish swagger from sway

La Jolla, CA – It doesn't take John Wayne's deliberate, pigeon-toed swagger or Marilyn Monroe's famously wiggly sway to judge a person's gender based on the way they move. People are astonishingly accurate when asked to judge the gender of walking human figures, even when they are represented by 15 small dots of light attached to major joints of the body.


Salk scientists untangle steroid hormone signaling in plants

La Jolla, CA – When given extra shots of the plant steroid brassinolide, plants "pump up" like major league baseball players do on steroids. Tracing brassinolide's signal deep into the cell's nucleus, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have unraveled how the growth-boosting hormone accomplishes its job at the molecular level.


Neurons find their place in the developing nervous system with the help of a sticky molecule

La Jolla, CA – The brain, that exquisite network of billions of communicating cells, starts to take form with the genesis of nerve cells. Most newborn nerve cells, also called neurons, must travel from their birthplace to the position they will occupy in the adult brain. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a molecule expressed on the surface of certain migrating neurons that helps them find their correct position along on the way.


Salk Board of Trustees Names Dr. Irwin Jacobs chairman-elect

La Jolla, CA – Dr. Irwin Jacobs, QUALCOMM co-founder, has been named chairman-elect of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies' Board of Trustees. Dr. Jacobs will assume his new role in November when current chairman Jerry Kohlberg retires.


Mouse study reveals human X-SCID gene therapy poses substantial cancer risk

La Jolla, CA – New animal studies conducted at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies show that the only human gene therapy treatment to date considered to be largely successful, is, in fact, riskier than realized.


Salk scientist Joe Ecker elected to National Academy of Sciences

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute professor Joseph R. Ecker, who spearheaded the first effort to decipher a plant genome, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy made the announcement today during its 143rd annual meeting in Washington, DC. Election to the Academy recognizes distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, and is considered one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist.


Researchers solve mystery of how nuclear pores duplicate before cell division

La Jolla, CA – Researchers have long wondered how nuclear pores – the all-important channels that control the flow of information in and out of a cell's nucleus – double in number to prepare for the split to come when a cell divides. Now, for the first time, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies watched as new funnel-like pore structures formed from scratch, and inserted themselves into the nuclear membrane.


Salk research challenges concept that motion perception is all black and white

La Jolla, CA – Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a neural circuit that is likely to play an important role in the visual perception of moving objects. Their finding, published in the April issue of the journal Neuron, forces neurobiologists to rethink the neural pathways that our brain relies on to detect motion.


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