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Evidence for a HURP/EB free mixed-nucleotide zone in kinetochore-microtubules

All cells must accurately separate their chromosomes during mitosis to avoid errors that are associated with cancer development, reproductive failure and even ageing. This feat is accomplished by the mitotic spindle – this microtubule-based machine has a bipolar geometry and contains hundreds of protein components. A subset of microtubules form bundles that make contact with kinetochores on the chromosome (these are called K-fibres). The growth and shrinkage of these microtubules, through addition and loss of tubulin, is coupled to the hydrolysis of GTP: this powers chromosome movement. Previous work identified a protein called HURP (hepatoma up-regulated protein) that forms distinctive stripes on each half spindle (see schematic). Here, through collaboration with University of Geneva, we identified a new region within the mitotic spindle, termed “HURP-gap”. This HURP free region of the K-fibre is located between the stripe and the kinetochore.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:27 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Controlling signalling pathways with light

Discovery: How do organs reach a specific size during development? The Hippo/YAP pathway has been identified as a critical regulator of organ size control. It also plays an important role in homeostasis and cancer progression, in part due to its mechanosensitive response. Here, the Saunders lab have developed an optogenetic version of YAP (optoYAP) that enables its localisation to the nucleus to be tightly controlled in both space and time. This enables targeted perturbation of the pathway, with potential applications to wound healing and regeneration.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:21 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Understanding polysulphoxides as macromolecular cryoprotectants

The GibsonGroup are developing macromolecular (polymer) cryoprotectants to enable next-generation cell based therapies, and to simplify cell-based assays. A key feature identified in the teams most potent materials is a mixture of cationic/anionic charges on the side chain, but the exact mechanism of action is under investigation. In this latest work the team explored sulphoxide (‘DMSO like’) side chains, which are actually highly polarised with S+-O- character. The team also explore N-oxide polymers which have similar charged character. Using a range of phyical and biochemical assays the team investigated if these motifs could aid in cryopreservation.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Fri 12 Aug 2022, 15:19 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

The Data Science and AI Showcase: SAVE THE DATE 12th September 2022 - DS&AI Showcase

The Data Science and Artificial Intelligence showcase will be held at Warwick this year and is open to anyone in the research teams and wider audiences active in Data Science and AI.
The two keynote speakers are directly aligned to Women in STEM, with Anne-Maire Imafidon almost confirmed as the closing plenary speaker.

There will also be a poster exhibition, and full details on how to enter can be found with this link Poster Competition - submissions just need to be a high-res PDF, all printing costs are covered and there are a few prizes up for grabs.
Register here and join us to debate  

Thu 11 Aug 2022, 11:47 | Tags: HS_SSSH HealthSciences HS_PET HS_MHWB HS_STATS HS_APC HS_Ethics

The influence of extrachromosomal elements in the anthrax "cross-over" strain Bacillus cereus G9241

We have now published back to back two papers on the so called anthrax “cross over strain Bacillus cereus G9241. The first paper (From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241) has already been highlighted. This current paper is titled, “The influence of extrachromosomal elements in the anthrax “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241.”

The work investigates the contribution of anthrax-like plasmids and a lysogenic phagemid to the pathogenic potential of the normally relatively harmless Bacillus cereus. We investigated the role of temperature and carriage of the pBCXO1 plasmid (which is homologous to the pXO1 anthrax toxin plasmid) in regulation of chromosomal genes, heavily affecting metabolism. In addition we have shown that sporulation of G9241 is very rapid at 37’C, which is characteristic of B. anthracis but unlike the ancestral B. cereus strains. Finally we isolated phagemid virions which are produced at 37’C and visualised them with electron microscopy.

Read the paper here.

Wed 03 Aug 2022, 14:55 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241

In our recent paper “From cereus to anthrax and back again: The role of the PlcR regulator in the “cross-over” strain Bacillus cereus G9241” we have investigated how a normally low risk Bacillus cereus strain has evolved to mimic Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of the highly feared lethal anthrax infection. The B. cereus G9241 strain is one of several relatively recent isolates that are termed “anthrax cross over strains” that intriguingly seem to preferentially infect metal workers in the USA (welders / millers). These strains are of particular concern as, unlike B. anthracis proper, they can switch between a form that can survive and replicate in the environment using invertebrate hosts and the more lethal mammalian infective anthrax like form. B. anthracis must pass from mammalian host to mammalian host as a spore form thus somewhat limiting its spread. This is due to a loss of function mutation in a key regulator protein named PlcR, which in all other B. cereus sensu lato group strains allows for survival outside of a mammalian host. Our work has identified the specific mechanism by which G9241 can switch on and off the PlcR regulation endowing it with a “Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde” like life cycle. This work was a culmination of a Marie Curie fellow, 3 PhD students and one postdoc and was supported by MoD Porton Down DSTL funding and advice, for which we are very grateful.

Read the paper here.

Wed 03 Aug 2022, 14:52 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Congratulations Class of 2022!

Our 2022 summer graduation took place on 21 July, celebrating the fantastic achievements of our MB ChB, Master's and PhD students.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 16:50 | Tags: news

Two MB ChB graduates awarded Outstanding Student Contribution Awards

We’re delighted to announce that two of our 2022 MB ChB graduates, Gabriela Barzyk and Charlotte Simms, have been awarded Outstanding Student Contribution Awards from the University of Warwick.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 11:08 | Tags: news

Fatal COVID-19 outcomes are associated with an antibody response targeting epitopes shared with endemic coronaviruses

One of the key questions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic is how prior immunity to related endemic coronaviruses affects the SARS-CoV-2 immune response. In this study, we provide evidence of immunological imprinting in individuals with fatal outcomes from COVID-19, suggesting an antibody profile consistent with an original antigenic sin type-response. Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Mon 01 Aug 2022, 10:45 | Tags: news BMS BMS_newpub

All hail the mighty MitoPits!

Cansu Küey’s PhD work was published this week in eLife. Together with Méghane, Gabrielle and Miguel, she showed that clathrin-coated pits can be made to form on intracellular membranes. This phenomenon allowed us to redefine two key concepts in clathrin-coated vesicle formation. First, a scission molecule is not needed to pinch off vesicles inside the cell. Second, that most of the other proteins found in regular clathrin coats are not essential for vesicle formation.

Fri 29 Jul 2022, 15:12 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Robot hip surgeons: new trial to test performance against humans

Robots will have their surgical skills put to the test as researchers from Warwick Medical School trial their use in hip replacement surgery for the first time.

Mon 18 Jul 2022, 13:12 | Tags: news WCTU

Professor Harbinder Sandhu highly commended in Asian Women of Achievement Awards

Many congratulations to Harbinder Sandhu, Professor of Health Psychology, who has been highly commended at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards UK 2022.

Sun 17 Jul 2022, 16:22 | Tags: news WCTU

Congratulations - PhD awarded to Tommer Spence & Kirstie Shearman

Tommer Spence has been awarded a PhD in Health Sciences for their PhD on ‘The Perceptions and Experiences of Using Internet-Based Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections’. Tommer was supervised by Frances Griffiths in the Division of Health Sciences and Jonathan Ross.

Kirstie Shearman has been awarded a PhD in Health Sciences for their PhD on ‘Improving Information for Research Participation’. Kirstie was supervised by Heather Draper and Greg Moorlock in the Division of Health Sciences.

Wed 13 Jul 2022, 12:36 | Tags: HS_SSSH HealthSciences

Women's Academic Network: Turning research into stories

Monday 11 July, 12.00pm, GLT3 - Please note change of date

Dr David Gregor-Kumar, the BBC West Midlands Science Correspondent, will be coming to talk to the network. Come along and learn how to speak about your research and teaching on the radio or TV and counteract the under-representation of women scientists who broadcast their findings. Please let Stephanie Smart ( know if you are planning on attending for numbers and catering purposes, along with any dietary requirements.

Using amino acids to control ice growth

The GibsonGroup, in collaboration with the Sosso Group (chemistry) are investigating how small molecules can inhibit ice recrystallisation - a property more commonly associated with macromolecules, such as ice binding proteins or some polymers. The challenge of the macromolecules is that sequential modification is challenging, and hence structure-property relationships are often missing. Here the team show that phenyl alanine can inhibit ice recrystallisation and that modulation of the hydrophobic face impacts the magnitude of the activity. This work shows that ’small molecule’ approaches can be taken to probe the complex ice/water interface, with the long term goal of finding new molecules to control ice growth.

Read the paper here.

Mon 20 Jun 2022, 15:09 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Impact of Covid-19 on hospice care

During the Covid-19 pandemic hospice care across the West Midlands fell below the “gold-standard” despite the best efforts of frontline healthcare professionals. This news has been revealed in a report from the end of life charity Marie Curie, based on research from WMS led by Dr John MacArtney. Read the university's press release hereLink opens in a new window and the full report and films explaining the study and findings hereLink opens in a new window.

Research says hospice care was compromised across West Midlands during pandemic but there is hope for the future

During the Covid-19 pandemic hospice care across the West Midlands fell below the “gold-standard” despite the best efforts of frontline healthcare professionals, according to a report from the end of life charity Marie Curie, based on research from Warwick Medical School.

Thu 09 Jun 2022, 14:24 | Tags: news HS_APC

MB ChB finalist recognised at Buckingham Palace

Warwick MB ChB finalist Thomas Dale MacLaine recently attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his services to Higher Education. We caught up with him to find out more about the experience and why he was recognised.

Wed 01 Jun 2022, 12:30 | Tags: news

MB ChB Prizegiving celebrates student and staff success

Our 2022 MB ChB Prizegiving Evening took place on 11 May, celebrating the fantastic work and achievements of our medical students over the last year and excellence amongst our staff.

Wed 18 May 2022, 15:30 | Tags: news

Characterisation of the Ubiquitin-ESCRT pathway in Asgard archaea sheds new light on origins of membrane trafficking in eukaryotes

This work answers the mystery surrounding when in evolution did a key class of membrane remodelling factors arise. The collaborative team comprising Balasubramanian (Warwick), Baum (Cambridge), Lowe (Cambridge), Robinson (Lancaster), and Ettema (Wageningen, Netherlands) worked on proteins encoded by Heimdall archaea, thought to be most related to eukaryotes. They found that, contrary to existing dogma, a complex eukaryote-like ESCRT family of membrane remodelling factors were present in archaea and are therefore not eukaryotic inventions. Warwick post-doctoral fellow and first author Hatano “reconstituted” key steps of the process using purified components helping arrive at the conclusions.
Read the paper hereLink opens in a new window.

Wed 18 May 2022, 09:02 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

Marie Curie Funded PhD Studentship Opportunity - Unit of Academic Primary Care

This 3.5 year PhD studentship provides a unique opportunity for a promising social or health science researcher to undertake research aimed at influencing the future of palliative care services. The student will investigate the relationship between wider ideas of society and healthcare as complex and how palliative care understands itself as addressing people’s ‘complex needs’.

Tue 17 May 2022, 15:45 | Tags: WPC HS_SSSH HealthSciences HS_APC

Professor Harbinder Sandhu shortlisted for prestigious award

Many congratulations to Professor Harbinder Sandhu, who has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2022 Asian Women of Achievement AwardsLink opens in a new window in the science category. This is to represent the work she is doing in her research here at Warwick and clinically.

Thu 12 May 2022, 11:19 | Tags: news WCTU

New €2.8m project will seek insights into aging from pre-term births

New research at the University of Warwick will investigate whether many of the physical and psychological effects of ageing are already determined for us by the time we are born thanks to new funding of over 2 million euros.

Thu 05 May 2022, 09:17 | Tags: news HS_MHWB

Cancer origin identified through cell ‘surgery’

Research from the University of Warwick sheds new light on a key cause of cancer formation during cell division (or mitosis), and points towards potential solutions for preventing it from occurring.

Thu 05 May 2022, 09:05 | Tags: news BMS BMS_newpub

Development is more than just growth: Understanding the mechanics of organ shrinkage during embryo formation

When we think about embryo growth, we often focus on tissue growth. However, this is not always the case: for example, the nervous system actually shrinks during parts of development. How do tissues condense in size while maintaining mechanical integrity? In recent work from the Saunders lab, with Spanish collaborators Enrique Martin-Blanco and Jose Munoz, they show that the Drosophila nervous system condenses through alternating waves of contraction from the anterior and posterior ends of the embryo. Further, they use the power of Drosophila genetics to reveal that the glial cells provide an essential mechanical support, effectively acting like a compression sock during condensation. This work opens up new avenues to study the mechanobiology of tissues that shrink – such tissues display behaviour very much distinct from growing tissues. Read the paper here.

Fri 29 Apr 2022, 15:19 | Tags: BMS BMS_newpub

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