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Archive for February 3rd, 2010

3 Brain Diseases Linked by 1 Toxic Neural Protein

Posted by feww on February 3, 2010

Three Brain Diseases Linked by Toxic Form of Same Neural Protein, According to Penn Study

PENN Medicine News Release

For the first time, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found that three different degenerative brain disorders are linked by a toxic form of the same protein. The protein, called Elk-1, was found in clumps of misshaped proteins that are the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

The toxic form of Elk-1 is present in plaque found in brain tissue from an Alzheimer disease patient (red asterisk). A neuronal process of a dying neuron is denoted by the red arrow. Credit: James Eberwine, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Click image to enlarge.

“These results suggest a molecular link between the presence of inclusions and neuronal loss that is shared across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disease,” notes senior author, James Eberwine, PhD, co-director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute and the Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Pharmacology. “Identifying these links within the diseased microenvironment will open up novel avenues for therapeutic intervention. For example it is reasonable to now ask, “Is this molecule a possible new biomarker for these neurodegenerative diseases?” says Eberwine.

Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by a number of features including the protein clumps called inclusions; decline of nerve-cell synapses; and the selective loss of the nerve cells themselves.

Elk-1 resides within multiple brain areas, both in the nucleus and the cell body. Interestingly, when it is present in extensions of nerve cells called dendrites, it can initiate the death of that neuron. With this in mind the team assessed whether there is a specific dendrite form of Elk-1 or a modified form called phospho-Elk-1 (pElk-1) that might be associated with a spectrum of human neurodegenerative diseases.

First, they determined the importance of this specific modification of Elk-1 on its ability to initiate regionalized cell death. This was accomplished through site-directed mutations and insertion of the mutated Elk-1 mRNA into dendrites and cell bodies. These studies showed that a specific position on the protein could be modified in the dendrite to cause neuronal cell death.

Next, they screened tissue from a post-mortem human brain bank, specifically samples representative of the three major neurodegenerative diseases, to look for higher levels of the toxic form of Elk-1 protein and compared their findings to levels in brain tissue from age-matched control samples.

By comparing the immunoreactivity for the pElk-1 protein in diseased tissue versus control tissue, they found that pElk-1 strongly associates with the pathological markers present in cases of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease versus disease-free tissue.

The team hopes to next expand these preliminary findings to a larger sample size of tissues from neurodegenerative disease banks, and to screen blood samples from affected individuals to assess the biomarker capacity of this form of Elk-1 and to use animal models of these illnesses to assess the biological role of this modified form of Elk-1 in the disease processes.  They also will be looking for other sites of toxic changes on the Elk-1 protein and will look in other disease tissue for modified Elk-1.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Mental Health. Eberwine, co-first authors Anup Sharma, an MD-PhD student, Jai-Yoon Sul, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, both from Penn, Linda M. Callahan, PhD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and colleagues, report their findings this week in the online journal PLoS One.

Related Links:

Posted in Alzheimer’s, Elk-1, Huntington’s disease, neurodegenerative, Parkinson’s disease | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cyclone OLI May Target Tourist Spots

Posted by feww on February 3, 2010

Tropical Cyclone OLI (12P) May be Heading Towards Bora Bora and other Tourist Spots in S Pacific

TC OLI Details

  • Time/Date: 3 February 2010 –  03:00UTC
  • Position: 15.7ºS, 157.3ºW
  • Sustained Movement: 120 degrees
  • Forward speed: 15 km/hr (~ 8 kt)
  • Tropical Cyclone OLI has been tracking ESE over the past 6 hours.

Current wind distribution:

  • Maximum Sustained winds: 100 km/hr (~ 55 kt)
  • Maximum Gusts:  130 km/hr (~ 70 kt)
  • Maximum significant wave height: 6 m (18 ft)
  • OLI is about 650 km (350nm) west of Bora Bora.
  • Sources: JTWC and Others

Tropical Cyclone OLI is expected to intensify under favorable environmental conditions.

TC OLI – IR NHC Enhancement – Date and Time as Inset. Credit: UW-CIMSS. Click image to enlarge and update.

Tropical Cyclone OLI. Infrared Color Background  – South East Pacific – GOES-West. Credit: UW-CIMSS. Click image to enlarge and update.

  • 2-Day Movie:   JAVA

OLI’s Projected Path. CIMSS Estimation. Click image to enlarge and update.

TC OLI. Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS, with Infrared (MIMIC-IR)
Version 1.

Tropical Cyclone OLI. Infrared  – South East Pacific – GOES-West. Credit UW-CIMSS. Click image to enlarge and update.

Tropical Cyclone OLI Position Map. Original map by Google. Information added by Fire-Earth.

Posted in cyclone, French Polynesia, storm, TC 12P, TC OLI | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Phil says ‘six more weeks of winter’

Posted by feww on February 3, 2010

Image of the day

Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog says “six more weeks to go!”

You like him or not, Phil does darn side better with his shadow predicting winter duration than do some of the established weather forecasters with their crystal balls.

Photo Credit:
AP/Carolyn Kaster. Image may be subject to copyright.

The legendary “Punxsutawney Phil,” the American groundhog from Punxsutawney, Pa., broadcast his annual weather prediction, after seeing his shadow on Tuesday. “There will be six more weeks of winter.” His handlers quoted him as saying!

Related Links:

Posted in groundhog, US Winter, Winter Season | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

El Niño Weekly Update [1 February 2010]

Posted by feww on February 3, 2010

ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

El Niño Weekly UPDATE prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP –  1 February 2010

The latest weekly SST departures are:

  • Niño 4   ~  1.3ºC
  • Niño 3.4  ~  1.2ºC
  • Niño 3 ~ 0.7ºC
  • Niño 1+2 ~ 0.4ºC

El Niño Map. [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP]

Weekly SST Departures (ºC) for the Last Four Weeks

  • During the last four weeks, positive SST anomalies have weakened across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • During the last 30 days, equatorial SST anomalies have decreased across the east-central and eastern Pacific.

SST Departures (°C) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks
During the last 4-weeks, equatorial SSTs were more than 2.0°C above average between 170°W and 150°W.

Click on the images to enlarge

Global SST Departures (°C)
During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were above-average across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans.

Weekly SST Departures (°C) for the Last Four Weeks

  • During the last four weeks, positive SST anomalies have weakened across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • During the last 30 days, equatorial SST anomalies have decreased across the east-central and eastern Pacific.

Central & Eastern Pacific Upper-Ocean (0-300 m) Weekly Heat Content Anomalies
Since April 2009, the upper-ocean heat content has been above average across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Sharp increases in heat content during June and October coincide with the development and subsequent strengthening of El Niño, respectively.

SST Outlook: NCEP CFS Forecast Issued 31 January 2010
The CFS ensemble mean predicts El Niño will last through the Northern Hemisphere summer 2010.

Unless otherwise stated, information and images on this page are sourced from Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NOAA. Edited by FEWW


  • El Niño is present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SST) are 1.0ºC-2.5ºC above-average across much of the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
  • Based on current observations and dynamical model forecasts, El Niño is expected to continue at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.

Related Links:

El Niño Updates:

  • El Niño [Main Page, Links to Weekly Updates Archive]

Posted in Climate Prediction, El Niño, El Niño 2010, El Niño update 2010, ENSO | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »