In Science this week, researchers from Harvard and the University of Toronto used a newly-constructed fluorescent protein fusion library for E. coli for a quantitative system-wide analysis of protein and mRNA expression in individual cells with single-molecule sensitivity. They found that protein and mRNA copy numbers for any given gene in a single cell are uncorrelated. "This result highlights the disconnect between proteome and transcriptome analyses of a single cell, as well as the need for single-cell proteome analysis," the researchers write.
Researchers in San Francisco explored the microbial biosynthesis of alkanes and discovered an alkane biosynthesis pathway from cyanobacteria. The pathway, the researchers suggest, consists of an acyl-acyl carrier protein reductase and an aldehyde decarbonylase which use intermediates to fatty acid metabolism to make alkanes and alkenes. "Heterologous expression of the alkane operon in E. coli leads to the production and secretion of C13 to C17 mixtures of alkanes and alkenes," the team writes. "These genes and enzymes can now be leveraged for the simple and direct conversion of renewable raw materials to fungible hydrocarbon fuels."
Researchers at UCLA investigate the cells of origin for human prostate cancer in Science this week. Basal cells from primary benign human prostate tissue can initiate prostate cancer in immunodeficient mice, the researchers suggest, writing: "The cooperative effects of AKT, ERG, and androgen receptor in basal cells recapitulated the histological and molecular features of human prostate cancer, with loss of basal cells and expansion of luminal cells expressing prostate-specific antigen and alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase." This, they say, demonstrates that histological characterization of cancer doesn’t always correlate with the disease's cellular origins.
And finally, researchers in Japan collaborated with researchers in Maryland to elucidate Btbd7's role in regulating epithelial cell dynamics and branching morphogenesis. Through its highly focal expression, Btbd7 provides a mechanistic link between the extracellular matrix and cleft propagation, the researchers suggest, leading to local regulation of Snail2, E-cadherin, and epithelial cell motility. "Inhibition experiments show that Btbd7 is required for branching of embryonic mammalian salivary glands and lungs," the team writes. "Hence, Btbd7 is a regulatory gene that promotes epithelial tissue remodeling and formation of branched organs."