Earliest Higher Life Found
YUAN Xunlai and coworkers at CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology discovered the fossilized biota that used to live in a deep-water (50m-200m) environment some 600 million years ago in Lantian, Xiuning County of Anhui Province. The Lantian biota suggests that morphological diversification of macroscopic eukaryotes may have occurred in the early Ediacaran Period (600 million years ago), perhaps shortly after the Marinoan glaciation, and that the redox history of Ediacaran oceans was more complex than previously thought. The finding, published in the February 17, 2011 issue of journal Nature, advanced the origin of "higher life" by some 40 million years, and provided the earliest evidences for studying the evolution of higher life.
Rice Height Regulating Mechanism
A study, led by HE Zuhua at CAS Shanghai Institute of Life Sciences, has landed new progresses in studying the mechanism regulating the height and development of rice plants. The finding was published in the February 9, 2001 online issue of Plant Cell.
HE and coworkers have studied rice plants' internode development for quite some time, which led to the successful cloning of BENT UPPERMOST INTERNODE1 (BUI1) gene, along with the systematic description of physiological and biochemical functions of BUI1. BUI1 encodes plant-specific Class-Ⅱformin proteins, regulating the assembly and dynamic changes of actin cytoskeleton. Actin cytoskeleton makes the basis for cell morphology and a range of physiological processes. BUI1 mutation may lead to the reduced concentration of F-actin in cells, with the reduced number of actin bundles and inhibited cell elongation and polarity expansion, which affects the internode development of the plants, causing a shortened uppermost node, and a bent growth. In collaboration with a team headed by HUANG Shanjin of CAS Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, HE and coworkers analyzed biochemical functions of BUI1 in a systematic manner, and proved that BUI1, a Class-Ⅱformin protein member, is a major player able to regulate actin cytoskeleton, playing an important role in assembling, growing, and developing higher plants' actin cytoskeleton. The finding found a new direction for studying the mechanism regulating the height of rice plants.
New Therapeutic Targets for Liver Cancer
A team, headed by CAO Xuetao, a Chinese Academy of Engineering academician and Head of National Key Lab on Medical Immunology, published its innovative finding in the February 15, 2011 issue of journal Cancer Cells, reporting that an in-depth analysis of miRNomes in human normal liver, hepatitis liver, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) shows that the expression of microRNA-199 is closely associated with liver cancer patients' prognosis. The finding, proving that microRNA-199 can inhibit the growth of hepatoma cells by inhibiting liver cancer kinase, and further inhibiting the downstream signaling pathway, sorts out a new potential target for liver cancer diagnosis and associated biotreatment.
Researchers, in collaboration with the scientists from other research institutes, have for the first time collected the microRNA data from normal human liver, hepatitis liver, and hepatocellular carcinoma through in-depth sequencing, which improved their knowledge of the differences between liver cancer and normal liver in the context of microRNA. 4 independent clinical cohort analysis of liver cancer patients shows that microRNA-199 that is richly expressed in the normal liver is significantly lower in liver cancer patients, showing a significant correlation between the reduced expression of microRNA-199 and patients' survival. Researchers also found that HCC histone methylation may result in the reduced expression of microRNA-199, and that microRNA-199 is able to inhibit PAK4, and then inhibit the downstream signaling pathway (ERK), which in turn suppresses HCC growth. Researchers also proved that MicroRNA-199 based therapy has significantly prolonged the survival rate of mice having liver cancer. The finding makes microRNA-199 a new potential target for liver cancer diagnosing and a new approach for biotreatment.
International Chemistry Year in China
International Chemistry Year in China, a popular science event, was officially launched on February 19, 2011 at China Science and Technology Museum. China Association for Science and Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences jointly staged a range of popular science activities for the purpose, including chemistry experiment design competition, popular chemical science show, Chemistry Day among others. XU Yanhao, head of China Science and Technology Museum said popular chemistry lectures would be held once every month at Science Forum, starting from this month, highlighting the importance of international chemistry year. The Museum will also host a series of popular chemistry events, including popular chemistry show. China Digital Science and Technology Museum has opened an official website for International Chemical in China (www.iyc2011. cn), promoting International Year of Chemistry in China events, making it visible to more people. One may get acquainted with the events through the website. Chemistry experiment design competition has also opened its registration and submission at the website.