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Researchers from Aarhus University have completed a new successful screening strategy where they have identified novel inhibitors of αlpha-synuclein aggregation. This may help develop a cure for Parkinson's disease. (Image: Colourbox.com)
Graphical overview of a screening of 746,000 compounds for inhibitory effects of alpha-synuclein aggregation. (Graphics: Professor Daniel Otzen)

2018.09.11 | Research, Knowledge exchange

New high-throughput screening study may pave the way for future Parkinson’s disease therapy

Parkinson's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease; currently there is no cure. Aggregation of the protein α-synuclein plays a key role in this disease. Together with a US drug company, AU researchers have now carried out a new screening strategy which has identified novel and structurally diverse aggregation inhibitors.

<b>GTPases are molecular switches that follow a characteristic cyclic pattern.</b> When a GTPase is bound to GTP (right), it is active or "on". In this state, the GTPase can bind to so-called effector molecules (below), which transmit the GTPase’s signal further within the cell. The interaction with the effector causes the GTPase to hydrolyse the bound GTP, thereby rendering the GTPase to its inactive "off" GDP-bound form (left). The GTPase can be reactivated via interaction with a guanine-nucleotide exchange factor that promotes the replacement of the bound GDP with GTP (top). Figure: Charlotte Rohde Knudsen.
<b>Measurement of distances in EF-Tu's structural extremes.</b> Elongation factor Tu consists of three structural units, of which domain I (green) is involved in the binding of GTP/GDP (magenta). Domain I can rotate relative to Domain II/III (light/dark blue), thus creating two structural extremes: a "closed" active state (left) and an "open" inactive state (right). The distance between the fluorescence donor and acceptor in the two forms is shown by the yellow line. So far, it has been assumed that the closed state occurred upon binding of GTP, but the new results show that EF-Tu·GTP must bind to aminoacylated tRNA and the ribosome before the active state is formed. Figure: Charlotte Rohde Knudsen.

2018.09.10 | Research

Molecular switches are not just "on" or "off"

It is not always easy to see if a switch is on or off! A new study shows that the same can be true of a molecular switch. This knowledge gives a new insight into the molecular switches, the GTPases, many of which have medical potential.

Mutation breeding with the new precision techniques can be seen as additional options to support already very efficient plant breeding. Photo: Colourbox

2018.09.04 | Research

New report focuses on precision plant breeding

A report from the DCA – National Center for Food and Agriculture – focuses on opportunities and risks of the use of new plant breeding techniques in Danish agriculture, horticulture and forestry. A highly topical issue in the light of the European Court of Justice's ruling that the techniques should be regulated according to the full GMO…

Award of the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize 2018. From the Left Secretary-General of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters Lars Arge, Minister of Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers, Prize winner Tim Bollerslev, HKH Crown Princess, Prize winner Poul Nissen, Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation Flemming Besenbacher and President of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters Mogens Høgh Jensen (photo: Martin Juul)
Poul Nissen (photo: the Carlsberg Foundation)

2018.09.02 | People

Poul Nissen awarded the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize 2018

Poul Nissen receives the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize for his groundbreaking work in structural biology. The prize was given by HRH the Crown Princess, Minister of Higher Education and Science, Tommy Ahlers, and chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Flemming Besenbacher, as part of the annual banquet at the New Carlsberg Glyptotek on Sunday…

Nuclear mRNAs carry an ‘A tail’ at their end. Under normal conditions (left panel) the protein Nab2 binds to the A tail and this protects the RNA against decay, which allows RNA to be exported to the cytoplasm with the help of Mex67. Under export block conditions (right panel), Nab2 binds to the A-tailed RNAs accumulating in the nucleus and therefore gets in short supply for protecting newly made RNA, which instead gets degraded already in the cell nucleus by enzymes attacking it from the A tail end. Figure: Manfred Schmid.

2018.08.29 | Research

New method uncovers the importance of keeping a good nuclear RNA hygiene

How cells translate their genetic information into functional RNA and protein is a central question in biology. Researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University have invented a new technology to study regulatory principles of gene expression. Applying this methodology to bakers yeast they found that RNAs that…

The male fruit fly uses his song to attract the female. Figure: Angela O'Sullivan.

2018.08.24 | Research

Flirting flies: more than just winging it

Studies of the song of the fruit flies reveal new findings of how the neurons in the brain function. These results can be used to uncover new knowledge on how brains in general function which in the longer term may have medical significance.

Many factors affect the survival of piglets. Photo: Jesper Rais

2018.08.07 | Research

Assessment of breeding for number of living piglets day 5

As part of the agreement on research-based public sector consultancy, researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU, have assessed the breeding initiatives that are to improve the survival rate of Danish piglets.

NFRe contributes to nitrogen-fixing symbiotic signalling. In the presence of native soil rhizobia, wild-type plants (WT) are larger, have more shoots (arrow), more flowers and formed pods (arrowhead), while nfre mutant plants are shorter, and have just started to develop flowers, indicating a lower fitness. Photo: Murakami Ei-ichi and Simona Radutoiu.

2018.07.04 | Research

New receptor involved in symbiosis between legumes and nitrogen-fixing rhizobia identified

Legumes are able to grow in nitrogen-poor soils due to their ability to engage in symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. There is a great interest in using the knowledge about this symbiosis, to enable transfer to other non-symbiotic plants. An international research team has come a step further to understanding this complex biological process.

Schematic representation of the albumin molecule engaging with the neonatal FcRn receptor. Graphics supplied by Albumedix Ltd.

2018.07.03 | Research, Knowledge exchange

New cancer target identified for albumin enabled anti-cancer therapeutics

Researchers from the NanoPharmaceutical Lab at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) Aarhus University led by Associate Professor Ken Howard, together with researchers from Albumedix Ltd., have identified a novel target in several cancer types that may pave the way for efficient delivery of drugs into cancer cells using the blood…

Rune Hartmann

2018.06.29 | People

New professor in innate immunology

Rune Hartmann is appointed professor of “Innate Immunology” at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, effective from 1 June 2018.

Fig. 1. RNA is composed of four bases (abbreviated A, U, G and C) and disseminates its message with a fairly simple code. Research in recent years has shown an unprecedented impact of RNA modifications at all steps of the maturation process (figure: Annita Louloupi and Evgenia Ntini).
Fig. 2. Newly made RNA consists of functional parts (exons) and non-functional parts (introns). Introns are excised in a process called splicing to yield a mature and functional RNA molecule composes entirely of exons. The RNA modification m6A can increase or inhibit this maturation process dependent of where m6A is deposited on newly made RNA (figure: Ulf Andersson Vang Ørom).

2018.06.20 | Research

Encrypted messages in biological processes

RNA modifications can encrypt the RNA code and are responsible for a very sophisticated control of RNA function. A Danish-German research team has shown that modified RNA bases have a great impact on the dynamics of gene expression from DNA to functional RNA. The study yields important new insight into how the basis of RNA modifications can affect…

Charlotte Rohde Knudsen (left) and Louise Dalskov

2018.06.04 | People

Award of the teaching prizes 2018

Charlotte Rohde Knudsen and Louise Marie Kragh Dalskov were awarded the prizes as teacher of the year and the student teacher of the year 2018, respectively, at the Annual Meeting and 50th Anniversary of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics on Friday 1 June 2018.

Jaslyn Wong. Photo: Novo Nordisk Foundation
Recipients of a grant for studies abroad. Photo: Novo Nordisk Foundation
Several of the members from the lab participated in the ceremony in Copenhagen. Photo: Terry Mun.

2018.05.24 | Research

Talented researcher awarded large grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation

At a ceremony in Copenhagen, Jaslyn Wong from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics was awarded a 4-year postdoc grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation valued DKK 3,44 million for three years’ study in Cambridge and one year in Aarhus.

Figure. A functional competition between RNA export factor AlyREF and the RNA exosome adaptor protein ZFC3H1 determines the fate of polyadenylated RNA. Shortly after RNA transcription starts, the nascent RNA is bound by the cap-binding proteins, CBP20 and CBP80. ARS2 directly interacts with CBP20/CBP80 to bridge interactions with several different complexes that determine RNA fate. (Left panel of the figure). Polyadenylated RNAs, like most mRNAs, are exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm in a process involving the export factor AlyREF, which interacts with CBP20/CBP80 to recruit the export machinery. (Right panel of the figure). ZFC3H1 acts as a central factor in retention and degradation of polyadenylated RNA. This prevents unwanted RNAs from entering the cytoplasm where they could potentially cause a global translation collapse. Figure: Toomas Silla.

2018.05.16 | Research

New nuclear RNA retention activity discovered

Gene expression involves mRNA transport from its place of synthesis to the cytoplasm where protein translation occurs. However, many non-coding RNA species do not follow this flow and new data now demonstrate how cells prevent the unwanted export of RNA and instead ensure nuclear degradation.

The long non-coding RNA called A-ROD functions as a lasso to recruit proteins to the DKK1 gene. Figure Figure: Evgenia Ntini

2018.04.24 | Research

A non-coding RNA lasso catches proteins in breast cancer cells

A Danish-German research team has shown that not only the where and when of long non-coding RNA expression is important for their function but also the how. The results can have a big impact on our understanding of dynamic regulation of gene expression in biological processes.

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