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Archive - Nov 24, 2013

Study ID’s Protein Essential for Immune Recognition and Response to Viral Infection

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)-led research team has identified an immune cell protein that is critical to setting off the body's initial response against viral infection. The report that will be published in an upcoming issue of Nature Immunology and is receiving early online release describes finding that a protein called GEF-H1 is essential to the ability of macrophages – major contributors to the innate immune system – to respond to viral infections like influenza. "The detection of viral genetic material inside an infected cell is critical to initiating the responses that signal the immune system to fight an infection and prevent its spread throughout the body," says Hans-Christian Reinecker, M.D., of the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the MGH Gastrointestinal Unit, senior author of the report. "Our findings indicate that GEF-H1 may control immune responses against a wide variety of RNA and DNA viruses that pose a threat to human health." The body's first line of defense against infection, the innate immune system, rapidly responds to invading pathogens by mobilizing white blood cells, chemical factors called cytokines, and antimicrobial peptides. When viruses invade cells, they often move towards the nucleus in order to replicate and sometimes to integrate their own genetic material into that of the host cell, traveling along structures called microtubules (image) that cells use for internal protein transport. But how microtubule-based movement of viral components contributes to induction of the immune response has been unknown. GEF-H1 is known to bind to microtubules, and previous research indicated that it has a role in immune recognition of bacteria. A series of experiments by Dr.

The Secrets of Owls' Nearly Noiseless Wings

Many owl species have developed specialized plumage to effectively eliminate the aerodynamic noise from their wings – allowing them to hunt and capture their prey in silence. A research group working to solve the mystery of exactly how owls achieve this acoustic stealth presented its findings: "Vortex Noise Reductions from a Flexible Fiber Model of Owl Down," at 8:39 a.m. on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting, held November 24 – 26, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvnia-- work that may one day help bring "silent owl technology" to the design of aircraft, wind turbines, and submarines. "Owls possess no fewer than three distinct physical attributes that are thought to contribute to their silent flight capability: a comb of stiff feathers along the leading edge of the wing; a flexible fringe a the trailing edge of the wing; and a soft, downy material distributed on the top of the wing," explained Dr. Justin Jaworski, assistant professor in Lehigh University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. His group is exploring whether owl stealth is based upon a single attribute or the interaction of a combination of attributes. For conventional wings, the sound from the hard trailing edge typically dominates the acoustic signature. But prior theoretical work carried out by Dr. Jaworski and Dr. Nigel Peake at the University of Cambridge revealed that the porous, compliant character of the owl wing's trailing edge results in significant aerodynamic noise reductions. "We also predicted that the dominant edge-noise source could be effectively eliminated with properly tuned porous or elastic edge properties, which implies that that the noise signature from the wing can then be dictated by otherwise minor noise mechanisms such as the 'roughness' of the wing surface," said Dr. Jaworski.

BioQuick Adds Link to Biotechnology Calendar

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. ( is a full-service event marketing and planning company producing on-campus, life science research tradeshows nationwide for the past 20 years. The company plans and promotes each event to bring the best products and services to the best research campuses across the country. BioQuick believes the Biotechnology Calendar to be a highly useful resource and has arranged to add a direct link to this site in the margin of the BioQuick home page. You can merely click on the link to access the Biotechnology Calendar. The Biotechology Calendar is also available via Facebook (, Twitter (, and Linked-In ( Comments by impressed users of the Biotechnology Calendar include the following: "I found the event very impressive, informative, and important for research in Pathology. I am from Japan; there is nothing like this in Japan. I am always looking for new research products. I am going to talk to my research manager about a few of these products when I get back to the lab. I have attended this event for the past eight years,” commented a UCLA researcher attending a Biotechnology Calendar event. “"The seminars were outstanding. I am currently teaching my technician similar procedures so it was very helpful," commented a Harvard University scientist. We hope that our BioQuick readers will appreciate the addition of this useful resource to the home page and would appreciate any and all comments.