ACS: Cells are weird

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So as part of my efforts to ‘seek out people I don’t know’, I went to a session yesterday in the colloid division about membranes and membrane proteins. Two talks by a grad student (Niña Hartman) and postdoc (Cheng-Han Yu) (see here for pictures) from Jay Groves’ lab were particularly outstanding. They are trying to figure out how TCR channels and other proteins at the immunological synapse are sorted into patterns. The general idea seems to be that clustering controls trafficking, with all kinds of fancy techniques used to provide evidence. The weirder thing to me is, how does the cell know where the synapse is supposed to be?? Something to ponder.

The funny quote of the day came from the morning carbohydrates session, where Amit Basu pointed out (in discussing the very precise molecular recognition of carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions as compared to more general adhesion properties) that sugar is not equal to a patch of micro-nano-honey.

Now I’ve got to figure out where I’m going – definitely no pattern to that yet!

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)