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2 UCSF scientists recognized for transformative research
Date:9/24/2008

says, the development of such therapies has been prevented by scientists' incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie major mitochondrial functions, including energy production, setting the pace of aging, and controlling cell death.

"The transport of ions and molecules across the mitochondrial membranes is the foundation of the mitochondrial physiology and a lack of direct methods to study mitochondrial transmembrane transport is likely the most significant barrier to a better understanding of mitochondria," he adds.

His goal is to develop a method for the application of the patch-clamp technique which revolutionized the study of ion channels and electrogenic transporters of the plasma membranes -- to both the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes for routine use in mitochondrial research. "This would provide an unparalleled functional essay for the key mitochondrial transport proteins, which, when combined with molecular biology, genetics, and protein crystallography, would facilitate significant advances in our understanding of the molecular workings of mitochondria and the subsequent development of therapeutic tools that control mitochondrial functions," he says.

Ramalho-Santos is studying the genetic mechanisms that give embryonic stem cells their capacity to differentiate, or specialize, into all of the cell types of the body. To date, most studies aimed at understanding this capacity, known as pluripotency, have been performed in the cell culture dish rather than in animal models.

During the last two years, however, his lab has gathered significant data in mice. In his upcoming work, his team will test the hypothesis that the genetic program for pluripotency plays an essential role in the development of germ cells, the precursors to eggs and sperm. To accomplish these goals, his team is exploring novel methods for rapid genetic manipulations in mouse germ cells.

By identifying the molecu
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Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
jobrien@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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