#1 Gene for autoimmunity

Rare genetic variants in the protein sialic acid acetylesterase (SASE) are linked to common human autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. In mice, defects in the protein have been linked to problems in B-cell signaling and the development of auto-antibodies.

I. Surolia, et al., “Functionally defective germline variants of sialic acid acetylesterase in autoimmunity,” Nature, 466:243-7. Epub 2010 Jun 16. Eval by Mark Anderson, UCSF Diabetes Center; Anthony DeFranco, University of California, San Francisco; Takeshi Tsubata, Tokyo Medical University, Japan.

#2 Cell mobility illuminated

Using light to activate a the protein Rac in a single cell, researchers show how the protein can induce a group of epithelial cells to polarize en masse, suggesting that these cells can sense movement as a group.

X. Wang, et al., “Light-mediated activation reveals a key role for Rac in collective guidance of cell movement in vivo,” Nat Cell Biol, 12:591-7. Epub 2010 May 16. Eval by Susan Hopkinson and Jonathan Jones, Northwestern University Medical School; Ekaterina Papusheva and Carl-Phillip Heisenberg, Max-Plank-Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics; Jonathan Chernoff, Fox Chase Cancer Center.

#3 How the brain communicates

Reproducing the electrical activity of the neurons in the mouse cortex, researchers demonstrate how different layers of the brain communicate to piece together information from a wide range of sensory inputs — a process that many neuroscientists consider a major mystery in the field.

H. Adesnik and M. Scanziani. “Lateral competition for cortical space by layer-specific horizontal circuits,” Nature, 464:1155-60, 2010. Eval by Aguan Wei and Jan-Marino Ramirez, University of Washington; James Cottam and Michael Hausser, University College London.

#4 Backwards-working neurons

Normally neurons respond strongly to synapses located closer to the cell’s center and weakly to those located on the cell’s tips. But the authors found that certain neurons important in spatial memory react more strongly to the distant brain signals than those from nearby neurons.

V. Chevaleyre and SA Siegelbaum. “Strong CA2 pyramidal neuron synapses define a powerful disynaptic cortico-hippocampal loop,” Neuron, 66:560-72, 2010. Eval byStephen M Fitzjohn and Graham Collingridge, MRC centre for Synaptic Plasticity; Johannes Hell, University of California, Davis.

#5 Cell-swallowing proteins

Researchers identify two proteins vital to — and perhaps responsible for initiating — the way eukaryotic cells take up ligands bound to the surface receptors into membrane-bound vesicles, a process essential for a vast number of cellular functions, including nutrient uptake, receptor signaling, pathogen entry, and drug delivery.

WM Henne, et al., ” FCHo proteins are nucleators of clathrin-mediated endocytosis,” Science, 328:1281-4, 2010. Eval by Martin Lowe, University of Manchester; Pekka Lappalainen, Institute of Biotechnology, Finland.

#6 Less genetic “dark matter”

In opposition to the idea that much of the mammalian genome is uselessly transcribed into non-functional RNA molecules, researchers demonstrate that there is relatively little RNA derived from the expanses of DNA in between functional genes.

H van Bakel et al., “Most ‘dark matter’ transcripts are associated with known genes,” PLoS Biol, 2010 May 18;8(5):e1000371. Eval by Daniel Reines, Emory University School of Medicine; Adnane Sellam and Andre Nantel, National Reseasrch Council of Canada.

#7 Death receptor helps cancer live

The apoptosis receptor DC95 that induces cell death may also promote cancer growth, providing a new possible target for cancer therapies.

L. Chen et al., “CD95 promotes tumour growth,” Nature, 465:492-6, 2010. Eval by Sharad Kumar, Centre for Cancer Biology, Austrailia; Astar Winoto, University of California, Berkeley.

The F1000 Top 7 is a snapshot of the highest ranked articles from a 30-day period on Faculty of 1000 Biochemistry, as calculated on July 8, 2010. Faculty Members evaluate and rate the most important papers in their field. To see the latest rankings, search the database, and read daily evaluations, visit http://f1000.com.

Jennifer Welsh contributed to this article.

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