October, 2007

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Innovation and Development

NCNST¡¯s New Research Progress Reported by Advanced Materials

Teaming up with co-workers at home and abroad, researchers from CAS affiliated National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) recently succeeded in developing a hetero-structured nano-ring in their laboratory. Employing the technology of vacuum sublimation, the scientists adopted ZnS as a source of evaporation and they first succeeded in developing a tooth-like hetero-structured ZnO/ZnS ring alternatively composed of ZnO and ZnS nano-belts. With the aid of field emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, they carried out the characterization of the new structure. The work, directed by Wang Zhonglin, Director of Overseas Department of NCNST, and Jiang Peng, deputy research fellow of NCNST, is co-conducted by Xie Sishen, CAS member from the CAS Institute of Physics and deputy director of the academic committee (AC) of NCNST, and Cai Wei, professor from Harbin Institute of Technology. The feat, which would be valuable for developing new optical or electronic nano-elements and relevant devices in the near future, was reported by Advanced Materials (Vol.19, 2319-2323, 2007), a leading academic journal in the material field. The journal¡¯s reviewers commented that the new discovery provides the direct experimental evidence for the formation of the hetero-structured ZnO/ZnS ring alternatively composed of ZnO and ZnS nano-belts.

A New Raf-1 Protein Found

Recently, CAS scientists in Shanghai have discovered a novel mechanism of spatial regulation on ERK pathway. The result has been published in the recent issue of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Feng Lin, a doctorate student working in a research team led by Prof. Chen Yan at the Institute for Nutritional Sciences, the CAS Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, has discovered a new negative regulatory protein for ERK pathway. Their research indicates that a new protein, named as RKTG (Raf kinase trapping to Golgi), is implicated in the spatial regulation of Raf kinase. The scientists found that RKTG is a close homologue of adiponectin receptors and possesses the special structure of seven transmembrane proteins. Adiponectin plays an important role in the regulation of energy and glucose metabolism. This discovery is important in revealing a novel mode of regulation on Raf kinase. It not only demonstrates that Raf-1 is under spatial regulation, but also uncovers a new mechanism in which the ERK signaling pathway is modulated by subcellular compartmentation at the Golgi apparatus.

Considering that the ERK pathway plays a pivotal role in cancer formation, this study will be of great help in further understanding the molecular mechanism underlying excessive proliferation of malignant cells.

Major Progress in Immunity Research

Researchers from the Center for Infection and Immunity and National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, CAS, have made breakthrough progress in the research in natural regulatory T cells¡¯ role in tempering initial innate responses. Their work has been published on the website of Nature Medicine on Sep. 23.

The research team led by Tang Hong, with cooperation from an overseas research team headed by Dr. Fu Yangxin, found after years of studies that T cells are both necessary and sufficient to temper the very early innate response (within two days after the occurrence of HV inflection). In addition to the effects of natural regulatory T cells, close contact of resting CD4+CD25-Foxp3- or CD8+ T cells with innate cells could also suppress the cytokine surge by various innate cells in an antigen-independent fashion. In the experiments, the mortality of nude mice with defect in adaptive immune system defending virus infection or T-cell- or lymphocyte-deficient mice increased their unleashed innate immune response led to the cytokine storm. However, after being transplanted into T cells or deprived of NK cells, these mice survived as the inflammatory response was effectively inhibited. The discovery furthers people¡¯s understanding of the inflammatory response and provides a new theory that T cells are involved in the negative regulation of the innate immune response. The breakthrough is of high theoretical value for people to comprehend the inflammatory response caused by virus infection and virus clearing mechanism as well as control the opportunistic infection among patients with immune deficit, such as newborns, the aged, or people with transplanted organ or HIV.


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