A Sticky Spike
HIV infects macrophages and T cells when the major protein “spike” on its surface binds to CD4 and a chemokine coreceptor (CCR5 or CXCR4) on the immune cells. This spike contains a trimer of glycoprotein 120 (gp120) sitting atop trimer of gp41 embedded in the viral membrane. gp120 and gp41 are encoded by a single viral gene (Envelop), with its resulting polypeptide cleaved by the host protease Furin. Gp120 binds directly to CD4, and gp41 facilitates membrane fusion.
Image: On left, 3D structure of a single simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) obtained with cryo-electron tomography; the architecture of SIV’s surface ‘spikes’ (blue) is similar to that of HIV. On right, 3D cryo-electron tomography reveals HIV-1’s glycoprotein “spike” in complex with a soluble CD4 protein and a coreceptor mimic (17b) at ~20 Å resolution. Three copies of the coordinates for the ternary complex between gp120 (red), soluble CD4 (yellow) and 17b (cyan) have been fitted to the density map to produce a molecular model for spike structure. Learn more in White et al (2010) and Liu et al. (2008).
George Thomson’s Fractal Art
To most people, numbers on a page and mathematic equations can evoke anxiety and headache or induce calmness and comfort. To very few, however, do algorithms and geometry equate to a detailed and beautiful beginning to art. George Thomson is a 23 year-old student from the United Kingdom who takes great pride and spends countless hours producing art from numbers, or fractal art. George says that for him the images produced by the numerous calculations required represent the beauty and wonders of the universe.
Due to the size produced, the fractal art pieces he creates are perfect for replication as canvas prints. Each piece, as unique as the universe in which it reflects, Thomson says one image can take about 72 hours to produce. The millions of calculations result in peaceful, yet stimulating images, which produce a final picture similar to that of a nebula or what you might see when peering down through a microscope. Thomson’s computer generated fractal art pieces are being shared and sold by him for the first time ever. Each fractal art piece is its own story of uniqueness, color, and light, produced by geometric patterns and shapes.
- Lee Jones
Did you know that in many parts of the United States, cougars are making a comeback? Listen to this National Geographic radio interview with Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project Leader, Dr. Mark Elbroch, to learn about this comeback, our work in NW Wyoming to understand why cougars are NOT on the rise in this region, what to do if you encounter a cougar in the wild, competition between cougars & wolves, & more @ http://bit.ly/1gYLlM7.
Get info on Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project @ http://bit.ly/1lKMjNB.
A company called Bevshots has produced a series of shots of booze under the microscope at the Florida State University’s chemistry labs.
Molecules at 1000x Magnification !
One of these days I’m going to have to buy a print from them.
Pigments decay over time — but if a fossil preserves the microscopic physical structures that generate iridescent color, its hues can be inferred after millions of years. Such was the case with Microraptor, which appears to have possessed dark, iridescent plumage. “I went with dark blue, like a grackle,” said Martyniuk.
Microraptor’s feathers also appear to have been adapted to flight, though its skeleton was not. “Feathers seem to be more malleable in terms of evolutionary selection,” he said. “It’s a creature that was just starting to adapt to living in trees or flying. The skeleton has yet to catch up with the feathers.”
From Matthew P. Martyniuk’s "A Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds and Other Winged Dinosaurs" - coming up on its second edition.
Local knowledge sheds light on some of the world’s strangest mammals
by Dominic RowlandOne of the difficulties of studying rare and endangered species is that they are, by definition, hard to find. Scientists attempting to understand their distributions and the threats to their survival can spend hundreds of hours in the field while collecting little data, simply because sightings are so few and far between. To find out more about rare and elusive species, scientists often have to turn to other methods, including using the knowledge of local people.
One team of researchers did just that in 2010 while trying to study two rare, elusive, and wonderfully bizarre small mammals on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola: the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and the Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). The solenodon is a venomous, long-nosed insectivore reminiscent of a giant shrew, but belonging to its own family. The hutia is a large rodent, shaped like a guinea pig but as at home in trees as a squirrel. Both animals are nocturnal, listed as Endangered, and represent the last two species of a plethora of unique, endemic creatures that once inhabited Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti…
(read more: MongaBay)
photos: Last Survivors and Tiffany Roufs / mongabay.com
They don’t tell you about the grind of the tenure track or the two-body problem. They don’t tell you how your boss/academic adviser (your lab group’s principal investigator, or PI) can take advantage of the fact that your visa status depends on your employment to work you harder and pay you less — that they might delay filing your paperwork as they drop hints that you’re not working hard enough, or just fire you and send you and your family back to your country of origin. They don’t tell you about the common perception that a scientist should be 100% devoted to “his” work (or her work, if she is single or has a “supportive spouse,” as it’s usually put).
You may notice that you’ve never heard about the contributions of female organic chemists. Or you may not. You’ve never seen anything different.
Aasif Mandvi interviews Fox Business commentator, Todd Wilemon.