Category: News and Events


Remembering John F. Murray, MD

It is with great sadness that we share the news that John F. Murray, Professor of Medicine emeritus, has passed away.Dr. Murray was tirelessly dedicated to what was then called San Francisco General Hospital (now, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center), where he was chief of pulmonology from 1966 until 1989.

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Researcher of the Month: Natalia Jura, PhD

Natalia Jura, PhD, is focused on how cells transmit signals via protein molecules on their surface to elucidate what goes wrong in cellular communication with cancer. “We are using cryogenic electron microscopy to tackle the structure of a class of these proteins called Receptor Tyrosine Kinases. These are the first studies that will allow us to look at these molecules as a whole piece, understand their architecture, and see how mutations change them.”

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$13 Million Grant to Probe the Genome of Heart Cells

The genome of human cells looks a lot like a tangled ball of yarn, with tightly wound clumps from which myriad loose strands escape and loop out. But there is order to this tangle, and growing evidence that the genome’s 3D architecture influences the activity of its genes.

Understanding the rules that control gene activity has been the object of a long collaboration between Gladstone Investigators Deepak Srivastava, Benoit Bruneau, Katherine Pollard, Bruce Conklin, and Nevan Krogan, and their UC San Francisco (UCSF) partner Brian Black. Together, they have already found many key regulators of gene activity in the heart.

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Golgi localized β1-adrenergic receptors stimulate Golgi PI4P hydrolysis by PLCε to regulate cardiac hypertrophy

Beta blockers are among the most widely used drugs for treating heart failure.  It has long been thought that these drugs act on proteins, known as adrenergic receptors, that solely reside on cell surfaces.  A recent study by scientists at CVRI and the University of Michigan has discovered a previously unknown role for adrenergic receptors within cells. When beta blockers were developed, there were no considerations for their abilities to access internal adrenergic receptors.  This new knowledge can potentially lead to the development of drugs that are more effective in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

https://elifesciences.org/articles/48167

 


A Bullfrog’s Powerful Defense Against Toxic Red Tides

 

As climate change raises ocean temperatures, fisheries and public health agencies closely monitor the waters for harmful algal blooms known as red tides. The algae in these blooms produce a neurotoxin that accumulates in shellfish, rendering them dangerous, or even lethal, for human consumption. Bullfrogs, however, have a natural defense in the form of a protein known as saxiphilin.

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How Scientists Detect the Most Lethal Shellfish Toxin You’ve Never Heard Of

There is a weapon that is released by algae around the world and concentrated, invisible, in the flesh of shellfish. An amount the size of a poppy seed is enough to kill a grown person. It’s part of an onslaught from which we’ve defended ourselves for decades, which might be why you’ve never heard of it.

https://www.kqed.org/science/1944148/how-scientists-detect-the-most-lethal-shellfish-toxin-youve-never-heard-of

 


Understanding the Language of Cells: A Look Inside the Jura Lab

The biochemists and structural biologists in the Jura Lab, which is affiliated with the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) and the UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, seek to understand what regulates how cells compute signals received from other cells or the environment to control cell growth and survival.

The lab, led by Natalia Jura, PhD, looks at how cells grow when they are healthy, and what goes wrong in diseases, such as cancer or neurodegenerative disorders. Signaling requires precise function of proteins, which often rely on phosphorylation/dephosphorylated cycle, a controlled process of addition and loss of a phosphate component. This cycle is orchestrated by enzymes called kinases that put on the phosphates and phosphatases that remove these modifications. “These are key enzymes that keep our tissues healthy,” said Jura. “Something happens to them – they change their protein structure due to a mutation, get abnormally activated or silenced, and then precise control of signaling pathways is gone. This then leads to disease because core functions of the cell, including decisions to survive, migrate, or die, are out of balance.”

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