In the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and other neurodegenerative disorders, insoluble fibers composed of a protein called tau build up inside of neurons, eventually creating a tangled mess characteristic of these diseases.
In order to generate energy, our bodies transfer electrons from food—sugars, fats and proteins—to molecular oxygen, which allows our cells to respire and function. Performed by the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC), this process creates energy-storing and -transporting adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “molecular currency” for energy in the cell.
When nibbling mosquitoes cause irritation, the sensible move is to grab mosquito repellent. Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, likes to remind his students of this. But if they’re stepping outside for only a short period of time during the buggy Davis summers, Leal will offer a natural repellent like methyl salicylate, otherwise known as wintergreen oil.
Unlike the stem cells of an adult human, the stem cells of an adult Hydra—a small freshwater invertebrate related to jellyfish and corals—are in a constant state of renewal, bestowing it with amazing regenerative capabilities and nearly biological immortality. Around 100,000 cells make up the Hydra body, and amazingly, these cells renew every 20 days thanks to the Hydra’s bottomless well of stem cells.
The co-evolutionary arms race between plants and pathogens is one of biological balance. Plants want to defend themselves from invaders, while pathogens want to infect their hosts without killing them to propagate. Plant biologists are keen to understand the molecular battles occurring in infected plant cell territory.