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

eins, as well as misfolded proteins that have been implicated in some cancers. More recently, the research group has used the power of computer simulations to manipulate proteins in a virtual environment, testing out how easy it is for misfolding and propagation to occur in mutated proteins. Using this tool has helped the team predict the progression of hereditary ALS disease, and offers the hope that, through better understanding, scientists may one day be able to effectively combat currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases.

Presentation 2414-Pos, "Template-directed protein misfolding in silico and in the cell," is at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

A Change of Heart: Probing how chronic alcoholism alters cellular signaling of heart muscle: Scientists know severe alcoholism stresses the heart and that mitochondria, the cellular energy factory, are especially vulnerable to dysfunction. But they don't know the precise mechanism. Now new experiments led by a team at the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, may provide insights into possible modes of heart damage from alcohol. Using a technique called electron microscopic tomography, the Albany group produced the first 3-D images of mitochondria and discovered tiny tethers linking mitochondria to another cell compartment, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where calcium is stored. A clue about the role of these tethers was provided by collaborative experiments with the Philadelphia group. Normally mitochondria take up very little calcium but, as mitochondria get closer to the ER, calcium uptake increases. Calcium overload damages mitochondria, shutting down energy production and leading to cell death. The team looked at calcium regulation and cell structure in the pumping chambers of two groups of laboratory rats to find clues to how hearts are damaged by alcohol consumption. One group of rats was healthy and one was
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Contact: Ellen Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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