Press releases


Please quote Nature Chemical Biology as the source of these items.

The March 2010 issue of Nature Chemical Biology is available online.

March 2010

Finding psychiatric drugs in zebrafish?

Zebrafish may provide a great platform for finding new drugs for neurological disorders suggests a paper published online in Nature Chemical Biology this week. The discovery in the 1950s of drugs that act in the nervous system has been very important both for understanding neurobiology and treating neurological diseases. However, very few drugs have been discovered for these diseases since.

Randall Peterson, David Kokel and colleagues report that different types of neurological drugs caused distinct patterns of behaviors in zebrafish. By looking at the behavioral effects of a large number of chemicals, the investigators were able to identify new chemicals that affect behavior and to predict how these chemicals might be acting.

This 'behavioral barcoding' of chemical effects in zebrafish provides a much needed new approach for identifying leads for neurological diseases.

Rapid behavior-based identification of neuroactive small molecules in the zebrafish

David Kokel, Jennifer Bryan, Christian Laggner, Rick White, Chung Yan J Cheung, Rita Mateus, David Healey, Sonia Kim, Andreas A Werdich, Stephen J Haggarty, Calum A MacRae, Brian Shoichet & Randall T Peterson

Published online: 17 January 2010 | doi 10.1038/nchembio.307

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New chemistry clicks

A new method for tracking modified lipids in living cells is described online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. This robust technology, like its related chemical reaction -- called 'click' chemistry -- could provide a generalizable platform for studying any cellular process, such as protein functions and modifications.

The most famous example of click chemistry is the linkage of a triple bond, or alkyne, with three nitrogens, or an azide, to create a 5-membered ring. This reaction is used to attach fluorescent labels or other tagging agents to a variety of cellular molecules, which can then be easily visualized and studied. However, this is a permanent modification, making it harder to tell what the true structure or function of the biological target is.

Alex Brown and colleagues use cobalt molecules to bind alkynes that have been inserted in long lipid tails. The reaction is as specific as the click companion, but reversible, so the lipids attached to cobalt can be extracted from cells, but then characterized normally. As in the lab, alkynes can be inserted in a large number of molecules without causing functional changes; this technique should expand the ability of chemists and biologists to better understand cellular function.

Capture and release of alkyne-derivatized glycerophospholipids using cobalt chemistry

Stephen B Milne, Keri A Tallman, Remigiusz Serwa, Carol A Rouzer, Michelle D Armstrong, Lawrence J Marnett, Charles M Lukehart, Ned A Porter & H Alex Brown

Published online: 24 January 2010 | doi 10.1038/nchembio.311

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