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Highlights of the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting
Date:2/6/2012

the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School in Newark examined muscle cells, or myocytes, isolated in winter and in summer from woodchucks, and monitored the release and uptake of calcium ions when the cells were activated. They found that the myocyte sarcoplasmic reticulum the membrane system in muscle cells that stores and releases calcium had less spontaneous leakage of calcium, released more of it during excitation, and took it back up faster than that of summer woodchucks or non-hibernating animals. Understanding cardiac adaptive mechanisms in hibernators may suggest new strategies to protect non-hibernating animals, especially humans, from certain types of fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

Presentation 513-Pos, "Calcium handling properties in a hibernating animal: insights into antiarrhythmic mechanisms," is at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.

HIGHLIGHTS: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27

Blue Light Culprit in Red Tide Blooms: Though the precise causes of red tides remain a mystery, a team of researchers in the United States and Spain has solved one of the main riddles about these ecological disasters by uncovering the specific mechanism that triggers phytoplankton to release their powerful toxins into the environment. Red tides appear when naturally occurring algae, including Karenia brevis, multiply very rapidly, becoming so concentrated that the ocean surface takes on a reddish hue. Karenia produces brevetoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that binds to nerve and muscle cells, leading to substantial marine life mortality and human morbidity. The blooms are triggered by some as yet unknown fluctuations in ocean temperature, salinity, and available nutrients. The researchers discovered that Karenia and other unicellular microalgae function very much like the secretory cells we have in our bodies. Namely, they store inside membrane-lined microscopic vesicles their active chemicals such as hormones, antibacter
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Contact: Ellen Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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