This week, three science stories I’ve written were released. The first is on how E. coli has ‘MacGyvered’ a unique mode of membrane transport by combining a selective pore with an active transporter. The resulting protein complex can transport potassium ions against a 10^4 concentration gradient! This discovery was made at the University of Groningen, using their state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscope, and the results were published in Nature Communications.
The second report is on a project from the Universities of Groningen and Lausanne, a study that reveals a new mechanism by which bacterial cells (Streptococcus pneumoniae) can become competent, a state in which they are primed to pick up foreign DNA from the environment – a great way to get resistance genes. The study was published in Cell Reports.
The third report is a press release on checkpoint inhibitors (the topic of this years’ Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine, written for the UMCG (University Hospital Groningen). PET scans with labeled inhibitors appear to be a good way to see which patients may benefit from this revolutionary cancer treatment. This study appeared in Nature Medicine.
The first two reports were written by me as ‘science writer’ at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen, the third as a freelance science writer. I enjoyed writing three all of them. Talking to scientists about their latest discoveries is fun, and translating their academic studies into a story is a job I love!
Here is how the new potassium transport complex moves: