Monday, November 30, 2009

Science paper on glycosylation retracted

News from The Scientist by Jef Akst:
Researchers are retracting a highly-cited 2004 Science paper describing a new way of adding sugars to proteins -- a longstanding challenge in molecular biology -- citing their inability to repeat the results and the absence of the original lab notebooks with the experiment details, they announced in Science last Thursday (November 26).
It's a little curious - that absence of the original notebooks. Here's the retraction:

Science 27 November 2009:
Vol. 326. no. 5957, p. 1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5957.1187-a



We wish to retract our Report (1) in which we report that β–N-acetylglucosamine-serine can be biosynthetically incorporated at a defined site in myoglobin in Escherichia coli. Regrettably, through no fault of the authors, the lab notebooks are no longer available to replicate the original experimental conditions, and we are unable to introduce this amino acid into myoglobin with the information and reagents currently in hand. We note that reagents and conditions for the incorporation of more than 50 amino acids described in other published work from the Schultz lab are available upon request.

Zhiwen Zhang,1 Jeff Gildersleeve,2 Yu-Ying Yang,3 Ran Xu,4 Joseph A. Loo,5 Sean Uryu,6 Chi-Huey Wong,7 Peter G. Schultz7,*

"Regrettably, through no fault of the authors..." is a curious way to report this - absolving themselves, but not giving any other explanation. In an email to The Scientist, Schultz says again, "There are clearly complexities associated with suppression and cellular bioavailablity of these and other glycosylated amino acids that we did/do not understand, and, regrettably, we no longer have the notebooks to help resolve these issues (through no fault of any coauthors)." One wonders what happened.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Another animal 'cam' - on the backs of albatrosses - reveals possible explanation

Researchers had wondered how certain deep water prey had turned up in the diets of Black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophrys) - surmising that they had found these species in association with commercial fisheries.
[Photo caption: An iceberg photographed from the back of an albatross]

Now scientists report in the journal PLoS ONE that miniaturised cameras attached to the back of the birds have revealed the birds fly in groups and forage with killer whales.

"We went through thousands of images manually, we were so bored because most of images showed just 'featureless' ocean," says Professor Akinori Takahashi from the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan.

"Then we suddenly saw some albatrosses flying in front of the camera bird and then found the killer whale in the image."

"Finding the interaction of albatrosses with killer whales in the open ocean is unique, because it provides a clue to explain [how] some fish species unavailable within a diving range of albatrosses often appeared in their diet," he explains.