Lighting the fuse for the Cambrian Explosion

first_imgHarvard paleontologists have shed new light on one of the most enduring mysteries of life on Earth: the origins of the creatures that suddenly appear in the fossil record 530 million years ago in an event known as the Cambrian Explosion.In work that led to Australia and back, researchers believe that microfossils previously thought to be algae may actually be a specialized type of egg case, laid by an animal precursor for that explosion of life. The Cambrian Explosion was a watershed in the Earth’s biological history. Over a relatively brief span of geologic time, large-bodied, hard-shelled animals appear in the fossil record for the first time. The event is also known for the diversity of life it spawned, including almost all phyla of animals alive today. Phyla are broad classifications of life, such as Chordata (or vertebrates), which includes mammals, reptiles, and birds.Scientists have long puzzled over the sudden appearance of these complex creatures because they must have evolved from precursors that appear to be missing from the pre-Cambrian fossil record.Work led by Phoebe Cohen, a doctoral student in the lab of Andrew Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History and professor of Earth and planetary sciences, offers a reinterpretation of microfossils from the time just before the Cambrian, in the Ediacaran Period, which may solve the mystery. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month, the work also included Knoll and Robin Kodner of the University of Washington.“Phoebe’s work takes a previously enigmatic group of fossils and relates them directly to two major themes of Earth history: the emergence of animals and the expansion of oxygen-rich water masses in the oceans,” Knoll said.Scientists have long known that pre-Cambrian rocks hold an abundance of unusual, microscopic fossils with hard shells, spines, hairs, and other protrusions. It has been thought that the fossils were merely different kinds of algae, known to be abundant in the pre-Cambrian seas and too different from animals to be the source of a sudden profusion of animal life.“They were interpreted as an algal radiation, but they look like no known modern algae today,” Cohen said.After examining hundreds of samples of these fossils, called acritarchs, and comparing them with both algae and the eggs of modern and fossil crustaceans — a group that includes shrimp — Cohen has come to a different conclusion. Rather than being algae, they most closely resemble a specialized egg created by modern crustaceans — called a resting stage — that is able to lie dormant for years waiting for favorable conditions before hatching.If that is the case, the creatures that created those microfossil eggs would be tiny, but complex animal life, a potential precursor for the rapid diversification that followed.The events occur at a time when the Earth’s atmosphere was growing richer in oxygen, which may have opened the door to larger-bodied creatures. Those first animals, Cohen said, may have predated the time of the Cambrian Explosion itself but be absent from the fossil record because their soft tissues weren’t preserved. Only later, when hard parts evolved, would they appear relatively suddenly as fossils.Cohen had done some previous work with acritarchs, but had accepted the prevailing algae explanation until four years ago, when Knoll gave her a paper by marine biologists about recently discovered marine fossils of the resting eggs of small marine crustaceans called copepods. Intrigued, she began looking for more animal eggs to compare with the pre-Cambrian acritarchs.“The more I found, the more I realized they look astonishingly similar to these Ediacaran fossils,” Cohen said.After comparing their size, shape, and ornamentation, Cohen went further, examining their internal structure, finding that the pre-Cambrian microfossils more closely resembled the resting-stage egg of tiny animals than they do algae.“Many invertebrate groups make resting stages similar to these Ediacaran fossils, and in a way that no other modern creature does,” Cohen said.last_img read more

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NASCAR TV schedule: Dec. 31, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019

first_imgWhich channels have NASCAR programming this week? We answer that and give you the weekly NASCAR television listings here in the NASCAR TV schedule.Note: All times are ET.MORE: Get the NBC Sports App | How to find FS1 | Get FOX Sports Go | How to find NBCSNTHURSDAY, Jan. 36 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Season Recap, FS1 (re-air)10 p.m., Beyond the Wheel, FS2 (re-air)11 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Best of Features: Part 1, FS2 (re-air)On MRN1 p.m., Throwback Thursday: 1993 Budweiser 500FRIDAY, Jan. 4Midnight, NASCAR Race Hub: Fans’ Choice Awards, FS2 (re-air)1 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Best of Features: Part 2, FS2 (re-air)2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Best of Radioactive, FS2 (re-air)3 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Season Recap, FS2 (re-air)10 a.m., Beyond the Wheel, FS2 (re-air)11 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Best of Features: Part 1, FS2 (re-air)Noon, NASCAR Race Hub: Best of Radioactive, FS2 (re-air)1 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub: Season Recap, FS2 (re-air)6 p.m., Beyond the Wheel, FS1 (re-air)last_img read more

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NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Fun Day Festival is special and memorable

first_imgDOVER, Del. – The atmosphere was festive Thursday at Dover International Speedway, which should’ve surprised no one in attendance at the latest installment of The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Fun Day Festival.“Celebrations with a cause” – that’s one way to describe the fun-filled events, which have found several homes throughout the United States and are held in conjunction with NASCAR Cup Series race weekends. At each festival, children flock to participate in a variety of group-oriented activities that promote exercise and healthy lifestyles.NASCAR drivers are always waiting for them, ready to make an afternoon special … and memorable. That was the case again on Thursday, with festival attendees and volunteers gathering at the speedway, as the iconic “Miles the Monster” statue loomed in the background. The five-driver group attending included the driver of the famed No. 24 Chevrolet, William Byron, as well as Ross Chastain, Vinnie Miller, Matt Mills and Reid Wilson. The drivers interacted with the foundation mascot, “Chase,” and nearly 80 children, the majority from the Dover YMCA.“Having so many of our drivers join us for the Fun Day Festival is so very important to the success of the event – and the enjoyment of the children,” said NASCAR Foundation’s executive director Nichole Krieger. “We are so appreciative that they found time during a race week to take part in our Fun Day Festival.”Special to NASCAR.comChildren participated in four activities: the Pit Stop Challenge, Gas Can Relay, Goodyear Tire Race and “Looking for Lug Nuts,” a new activity. A highlight of those competitions was seeing Miller try to bump Mills, his NASCAR Xfinity Series teammate, off the course – and almost take him himself out of the action instead.Children also received a NASCAR Foundation “fit kit” that included an activity book, jump rope and pedometer watch. The pedometers will facilitate participation in a “step challenge” to see who can walk the most steps between now and May 23 – with bragging rights on the line, as well as a chance to win prizes from The NASCAR Foundation.The event at the “Monster Mile” marks the first time The NASCAR Foundation has hosted a Speediatrics Fun Day Festival in the Dover area. It is also the second in a series of six events that will take place throughout the 2019 season. The first event took place surrounding the March race weekend at ISM Raceway, with the remaining events scheduled for race weekends at Chicagoland Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway (August) and Martinsville Speedway.To learn more, visit NASCARfoundation.org.last_img read more

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The Action Network: Eye Larson, Jimmie for Dover win

first_imgThe second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kicks off at Dover International Speedway. The “Monster Mile” is a steeply banked, 1-mile oval with a concrete surface that features a modest incident rate of 20.1% since 2013. Notably, that number reduces to 14.8% during the seven high-downforce races in that time frame.Track history plays a strong role in my statistical model, which is likely due to the fact that Dover is such a unique track. Additionally, weighing the high downforce era improves the out-of-sample predictive power of my model, so it gives extra weight to the 2013-2015 races, plus the first race of 2019.My statistical model this weekend consists of the following data points:• 10-lap average• Track history• Year-to-date performance• Steep track performance (Dover, Bristol, Darlington, Homestead)Because 15, 20, and even 30-lap practice data became available to the public just this year, I cannot use it in a historical model. But we can use that data as part of our intuition on how to evaluate driver performance.With all that, here are my top bets to win Sunday’s Drydene 400.RELATED: Updated winning oddsKyle Larson +500In the spring Dover race, there was a big five of Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and Larson. Each of these drivers placed in the top five in average green flag speed. They also all brought their cars home for top-five finishes. Clint Bowyer was sixth in average green flag speed, but was three-tenths of a mile per hour slower than the other five, and only finished ninth.Larson might have the car to beat this weekend and certainly is one of the three favorites across the industry. Most books have him in the +300 to +450 range, but MGM has him listed at +500. It’s hard to trust Larson, who is winless  in his last 75 starts, but this could be the weekend he snaps that streak.Larson has five top-five finishes at Dover. Each of those finishes also corresponded with a 10-lap average inside the top seven. This weekend, Larson was quickest over 10 and 25 consecutive laps, and second to Harvick over 15 and 20 laps. In opening practice, Larson tied for the fastest five lap average, but did not make a longer run.Harvick, Truex, and Larson are the favorites across the industry, and while Harvick is also listed at +500 at MGM, Larson has shorter odds at more books, and has finished better than Harvick in each of the last three steep-track races.It’s always imperative to shop around for the best lines, but especially so with favorites. Breaking even on a +500 vs. a +350 bet means increasing the bet’s win rate by 5.6%. That’s about the same as going from a +9900 bet to a +1500 bet. I’d pass at +400, but anything longer is playable. Get the best number you can if you’re willing to make this bet.Alex Bowman +2500Bowman was the runner up at Dover in the spring, and didn’t fluke his way into that finish. He had the third-fastest green flag speed among all drivers during the race, behind only race winner Truex, and Harvick.Bowman has only run at Dover three times for a highly-funded team, but last year’s two races were with the low downforce package. If we go back to 2014-2015 when there was more downforce on the car, Bowman was running with two underfunded teams. His 2015 result of 20th was one of two top-20 finishes he had at non-restrictor plate tracks in those two years. The other came at Bristol, another highly banked concrete track.Bowman was also fast in practice, placing third over 10 consecutive laps in Happy Hour and fourth in the opening practice. Bowman has five career top-two finishes, all coming this year. He could be in line to push that to six. MGM and PointsBet both carry this generous line. There’s value here down to +1800.Jimmie Johnson +2750Johnson is an 11-time winner at Dover, but with only one since 2016. However, prior to that, Johnson won three of the six Dover races from 2013-2015, when more downforce was on the car.In the first race at the Monster Mile this year, Johnson struggled to a 14th-place finish. Notably, he only practiced 16th quick over 10 consecutive laps in Happy Hour. This weekend, Johnson looks to have his old Dover mojo back. He placed second or third in every consecutive lap category in final practice, and was fourth and second respectively over five and 10 consecutive laps in the opening session.The spring’s big five could turn into a big six with Johnson in the mix. My model don’t trust Johnson as much as Bowman because of Johnson’s struggles this year, but he’s not too far behind Bowman. There’s value here down to +2000.last_img read more

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“Coachella: 20 Years In The Desert” Documentary Series Trailer Shared To YouTube [Watch]

first_imgA trailer for the new YouTube original documentary series about Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival entitled Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert, was shared on Tuesday. It will examine the history of the iconic festival.Related: ‘Rex-A-Vision’, New Music Festival Docuseries, Releases Pilot Episode [Watch]The trailer’s scant 26-second runtime doesn’t allow for much explanation about the series, only that it will premiere March 31st of 2020, less than two weeks before the first of the festival’s two weekends. Other than that, the video boasts footage of shrieking fans attempting to jump barricades and an entire audience with their phones out, while the slogan “discover the moments that changed everything” flashes on the screen.A statement from YouTube expounds on the trailer, saying that the series will offer “exclusive, never-before-seen footage and interviews” from the festival. It will also provide an examination of the gathering’s beginnings and footage of performances from the past two decades including Billie Eilish, Kanye West, and more.The trailer comes on the heels of the full-lineup announcement from the landmark desert-glam festival, which includes Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott, Thom Yorke, Frank Ocean, and many more playing over two weekends, April 10th-12th and 17th-19th, at Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA.Watch the trailer for YouTube’s Coachella documentary, Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert, below.Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert | Official Teaser | YouTube Originals[Video: Coachella]Coachella 2020 weekend one is sold out, but weekend two presale is now live here.last_img read more

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SMC seeks to grow student organizations

first_imgSaint Mary’s hosted a meeting Monday to provide interested students with information about starting College recognized organizations. Tamara Taylor, assistant director of multicultural services, said one of the College’s goals is to have student organizations focused more on global and social justice issues. “We want to nurture the creative side of you,” Taylor said. “The recognition process [for student organizations] starts with ideas.” After coming up with an idea, a student interested in creating a club must create an executive board, consisting of at minimum a president and vice president for the perspective organization, Taylor said. A faculty member who is willing to advise the organization must be found, and a written constitution for the club must be submitted to the Office of Student Involvement and Multicultural Services, along with a completed recognition application. “Mainly what we are trying to say here is that you have a lot of support for your club on campus,” she said. When asked to share ideas at large, students named several ideas for potential clubs including a student organization for volunteer work, a club for future math teachers and a Saint Mary’s boxing club. Sophomore Theresa Siver wants to organize “Wishmakers on Campus” as a chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. “Our main [goal] is to fundraise for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Siver said, “So we can help them continue to do all the wonderful things they do to help those kids.” Other students, like junior Theresa Her, have a more global idea. “I plan to start a Korean club, which will be a part of a multicultural club,” Her said. “We will be learning about Korean culture, and … about the language.” Along with brainstorming, Taylor outlined the benefits student organizations will receive by gaining recognition from the College. Benefits include the approved use of College facilities, a club mailbox in the Student Involvement Office and the ability to fundraise and hang promotional fliers around campus. One of the greatest benefits, Taylor said, is the access to funding from the Student Government Association. This money comes from the student activities fees Saint Mary’s students are charged. Senior Maureen Parsons explained the club funding process. “We’ve changed a little bit of the process,” Parsons said. Each club at Saint Mary’s will be given a $100 budget for the year. This funding is not to be spent on clothing, food, or club merchandise, she said. For those optional expenses, clubs are expected to fundraise separately. “They’re really going to push and let you know that these are for things that will benefit all the students on campus,” Taylor said, “They won’t fund something just for your club.” Athletic clubs are allowed to submit a proposed budget plan to the Student Government Association detailing other expenses such as sports equipment, for which they may receive funding of up to $1,000. “We also have a sponsorship process for events and travel,” Parsons said, which is not limited to athletic clubs. Contact Tabitha Ricketts at [email protected]last_img read more

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Tour of Ireland Graham Watson Stage 2 Photos Up

first_imgGraham Watson’s photos from Stage 2 of the Tour of Ireland are online.  Above, Mark Cavendish (who won today’s stage with a sprint finish) chats with Lance Armstrong.  Russel Downing retains the race lead by 5 seconds.  Armstrong is in 20th overall at 26 seconds down.Check out the full photo gallery here.last_img

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How NFL Star Nnamdi Asomugha Began a New Career on Broadway in A Soldier’s Play

first_imgNnamdi Asomugha(Photos by Caitlin McNaney for Broadway.com) Related Shows “There are a lot of similarities between theater and football just because of how alive it is—breathing the same air as the audience, being in real time and not being able to go back and change something that you did, having to deal with it. In football, you can talk about the 70,000 or 100,000 people that are in the stadium, not to mention the other hundred million that can watch it on TV or YouTube. But in theater, it’s that group right there. It’s immediate for that thousand people, and no one else is going to see what happened in that moment. The similarity is that we’re all in the space together, and we’re all feeding off of each other. You ride a wave with them, the momentum in a play.” Life and Career: Less than 10 years ago, Nnamdi Asomugha was among the most valued players in the National Football League. He was drafted in 2003 by the Oakland Raiders and by 2009, he was regarded by many as the best cornerback in the league and easily the most valuable Raider. In 2011, Asomugah signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. But disorganized coaching and rushed practices tanked Asomugha’s game. In 2013, he retired prematurely from the League. Since then, he’s forged a swift and successful career in entertainment, despite having no interest in performance as a kid. His stage and screen credits include off-Broadway’s Good Grief and the film Fire with Fire, and he was the acclaimed producer and star of Crown Heights. Asomugha is also an executive producer of the Oscar-nominated Harriet. He’s married to fellow actor Kerry Washington. “I was probably in the middle of my career in the NFL when I started to think, ‘OK, what should I be doing next? What should the next avenue be?’ I thought initially that it was going to be in broadcasting, but then I started to fall in love with acting just by doing commercials and getting encouragement from people in the business to pursue it. So, I went into every off-season thinking ‘Let me continue to study acting a little bit.’ I would take a couple of weeks here and there and really dived in.” Show Closed This production ended its run on March 15, 2020 Star Files “I think for a lot of people, you don’t see a football player and think vulnerability. You finish a game and you want to yell and you want to scream because you’re frustrated or you’re excited. But in the moments where you’re in front of the camera, there’s a standard way of responding, especially if you lost the game: we’re going to go back on Monday, we’re going to look at the film, we’ll get better for the next game. But on the inside, you’re going crazy. There’s that level of conditioning that you go through that can really affect you as an actor in a negative way. So I started taking classes, and I just started to find other ways to open up and be as vulnerable an actor as possible.”Charles Fuller spoke about this concept of the double victory: African Americans at that time [during WWII] were trying to win the war for their country, but were also trying to win the war for their race. Being a part of the war meant they could have a chance at a double victory. If we can all come together and fight for America, maybe when the war is over, fellow Americans will see us differently. We all talked about it as a company during rehearsal and shared our views on it. That had a huge impact on me.””It’s not often that you get a play on Broadway where a group of 10 or so African American men can look at each other and laugh, have fun and really talk about things that are difficult within the race, things we don’t expose but are being exposed in this play to a wider audience. I’m just very blessed to be a part of it.”Watch Asomugha talk more about his career change below!Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 2:29Loaded: 6.68%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -2:29 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedEnglishAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.center_img Warner Miller and Nnamdi Asomugha in “A Soldier’s Play” (Photo: Joan Marcus) A Soldier’s Play Nnamdi Asomugha Age: 38Hometown: Born in Lafayette, Louisiana to Nigerian parents, raised in Los Angeles, California. Current role: Nnamdi Asomugha is making his Broadway debut as Private First Class Melvin Peterson in Charles Fuller’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, A Soldier’s Play. A pivotal player in the story of a black army sergeant who violently abuses his segregated military unit during World War II, Peterson was first portrayed by Denzel Washington at the Negro Ensemble Company in 1981.  View Commentslast_img read more

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$1 million gift from local allumnus creates professorship at UVM

first_imgThe AllEarth 2.2 MW solar farm in South Burlington. Vermont Business Magazine photos. A $1 million gift commitment from alumnus David Blittersdorf will establish a new professorship in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.The David Blittersdorf Professorship in Sustainability Science and Policy will be an endowed professorship that will advance the essential elements of a sustainability curriculum at UVM to address the critical issues of fossil fuel depletion, climate change and the development of renewable energy alternatives.Under a suitably blazing sun in front of UVM’s Aiken Center Friday afternoon, Blittersdorf, the president and chief executive officer of AllEarth Renewables, Inc, of Williston, said, “We must transition very quickly to renewables for us to survive as a civilization.”Blittersdorf is a 1981 graduate of UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. His accomplishments in the wind and solar energy industry define him as a leader in the field both nationally and internationally.While the professorship will reside with the Rubenstein School, Blittersdorf has stated his intent that the incumbent professor seek collaboration with the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.”There is no greater challenge we face than addressing carbon emission, fossil fuel depletion, and our energy future. It’s going to take education, technology, and policy advances for us to be successful,” said Blittersdorf. “I have such high hopes for how UVM and the Rubenstein School will be educating practitioners to tackle the tough energy challenges we face as a state and as a nation.”‘I offer our most sincere thanks to David Blittersdorf for this wonderful new professorship that fits so perfectly with UVM’s established expertise in environment and sustainability,’ said University of Vermont president Tom Sullivan at an announcement ceremony today. ‘The Blitterdorf Professorship is also noteworthy for its interdisciplinary aspect, which complements UVM’s transdisciplinary research foci.’The Rubenstein School is a recognized national leader in advancing experiential learning and interdisciplinary research on the environment and natural resources. The LEED Platinum-certified George D. Aiken Center, home base to the School’s diverse programs, has been recognized in the Chronicle of Higher Education as a leading example of linking sustainability education to practice, including solar trackers that produce nearly half of the building’s electricity needs.Senior environmental sciences major Samanatha Wallace said she came “across the country” from her home in Austin, TX, explicitly to study at the Rubenstein School.”We work to extend the knowledge and practice of sustainability from ideas to application,” said Professor Jon Erickson, Interim Dean of the Rubenstein School. “The Blittersdorf Professorship will support generations of UVM students working on the transition to renewable energy and continue to move our state forward as a leader in the green tech revolution.”last_img read more

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How neurons get their branching shapes

first_imgWhen one end of a microtubule is attached to something, it does not push out new dendritic branches as it grows. However, when microtubules form at no particular site, the opposite is true, and new branches are more likely to form as it grows. Further testing revealed that centrosomin acts as a glue that fixes microtubules, particularly to Golgi bodies, which is why its presence promotes less complex branching.“The shape and complexity of neuronal dendrite arbors are often disrupted in neurological diseases,” notes team leader Adrian Moore. “It turns out the two microtubule regulators we found in this study of Drosophila neurons–centrosomin and pericentrin–are encoded by genes mutated in some human brain disorders. As we learn more about how neurons control the growth of dendrites it will help us understand these diseases more completely, and we may learn how to initiate and direct neuron growth as therapy for diseases and after neuronal injury.” Share on Facebook For more than a hundred years, people have known that dendritic arbors–the projections that neurons use to receive information from other neurons–differ in size and shape depending on neuron type. Now, researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a factor helps shape dendritic arbors. Published in Nature Neuroscience, the work reveals how the protein centrosomin prevents dendrites from branching out.Dendrites grow and branch as structural elements called microtubules push the ends out in specific directions. Microtubules are often likened to cellular scaffolding, and are built on site by growing out from one end. To determine how microtubule growth and dendritic branching is regulated, the researchers examined sensory neurons from Drosophila fruit flies.The scientists focused on a type of Drosophila sensory neuron that has very limited dendritic branching and expresses the transcription factor called Abrupt. Researchers began by determining that expression of Abrupt leads to reduced arbors, while its absence leads to more complex arbors. Next, they tested a group of candidate proteins from the pathway of molecular events initiated by Abrupt, looking for one that regulates microtubules. They found that loss of centrosomin–a protein that makes microtubule-based structures necessary for cell division–resulted in more extensive dendritic branching, and its addition could block the increase in branching caused by lack of Abrupt. The team then discovered that by working with another protein called pericentrin, centrosomin could control where new microtubules form within the dendrites. Email Share on Twittercenter_img LinkedIn Pinterest Sharelast_img read more

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