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Novel insights on CRISPR-Cas9: a game changer in genome technology

The three-dimensional structure of the genetic engineering tool is now clarified. MIMS group leader Emmanuelle Charpentier is one of the authors in the article published in Science, 6 February 2014.

After the first description in 2012 in Science, the CRISPR-Cas9 system is considered one of the most important discoveries in molecular biology in our time. Now an international team with Charpentier and her colleagues at the University in Berkeley and Zürich, described the three-dimensional structure of the complex for the first time. The structure indicates how CRISPR-Cas9 works: A so-called guide RNA acts as the decisive switch to trigger conformational rearrangement of the Cas9 enzyme and targeting of the genetic material.

Original publication:
Jinek M, Jiang F, Taylor D, Sternberg S, Kaya E,  Ma E, Anders A, Hauer M, Zhou K, Lin S, Kaplan M, Iavarone AT, Charpentier E, Nogales E, Doudna JA (2014)
Structures of Cas9 endonucleases reveal RNA-mediated conformational activation, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1247997.

More information:
First description of the CRISPR-Cas9 system:
Jinek M; Chylinski K; Fonfara I, Hauer M, Doudna JA, Charpentier E (2012): A Programmable Dual-RNA-Guided DNA Endonuclease in Adaptive Bacterial Immunity,SCIENCE 337 (6096):816-821.

MIMS information:
Programmable RNA complex could speed genome editing in the lab - Publication in Science by Emmanuelle Charpentier and colleagues

Emmanuelle Charpentier, one of the scientists behind the discoveries on CRISPR-Cas9  system

Emmanuelle Charpentier's research group at MIMS

Emmanuelle Charpentier's research group at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany

2013: Signaling Breakthroughs of the Year:
"The editorial staff and distinguished scientists in the field of cell signaling nominated diverse research as advances for 2013"...
SCIENCE SIGNALING 7 (307), 7 January 2014, DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005013.

2013 Runners-Up: Genetic Microsurgery for the Masses. Science 342 (6165); DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1432.

365 days: Nature's 10
Read the story "FENG ZHANG: DNA's master editor, Borrowing from bacteria, a biologist helps to create a powerful tool for customizing DNA.", Feng Zhang mentioned the ground breaking artilcle in 2012 by Doudna and Charpentier et al as the basis for his discoveries in the CRISPR-Cas9 field.

MIMS receives SEK 15 Mio for national research school on Infections and antibiotics

During the next three years MIMS will receive funding from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) setting up a National doctoral programme in infection and antibiotics to connect the research environments of infectious disease and infection biology at the major Swedish universities within the national infection biology network.

Under the coordination of Åke Forsberg,professor at MIMS and director for the present UCMR research school, MIMS will build up an active network of nodes contributing to an advanced training programme that will promote scientific work and recruitment of young scientists in research on infections and antibiotics. Co-applicants for the new doctoral programme are professor Birgitta Henriques-Normark, Karolinska institutet, professor Björn Olsen, Uppsala University, Lennart Svensson, University of Linköping, Ann-Mari Svennerholm, University of Gothenburg, and Sun Nyunt Wai, professor at MIMS and UCMR.

The new national research school aims to strengthen the national recruitment base and quality for promoting research on infectious diseases and other risks to health. A particularly important objective of this doctoral programme will be to strengthen domestic and international networking in infection biology.

Read the press information of Umeå University in Swedish

Bernt Eric Uhlin receives funding for Field Emission Scanning-EM and Cryo-technology

UCEM logo posIn its latest decision on research infrastructures, the Swedish Research Council assigned an operation grant with SEK 4.7 Mio for 2014-2018  to the national FESEM resource for training and research in using high resolution Field Emission Scanning-EM and Cryo-technology.

The newly established national FESEM resource at the Chemical Biological Centre in collaboration with MIMS and UCMR is providing a high resolution Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope with a cryo-SEM system for life science and materials research. In particular, scientists within the Swedish National Network for Infection Biology from all major universities; Umeå University, Uppsala University, Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, Linköping University, Göteborg University, Lund University, are aiming to strengthen the infection biology research in the country by this joint infrastructure.

The Field Emission Scanning-EM instrument equipped with a cryo-SEM system is integrated in the Electron Microscopy platform UCEM – Umeå Core facility for Electron Microscopy and the adjacent high resolution light microscopy infrastructure at the newly established open access Biochemical Imaging Centre at KBC, Umeå University.

It has added completely new possibilities for ultra-high resolution analysis of the three dimensional overview of surface properties and in combination with immuno-gold labeling the precise localization of surface proteins. Correlated light and electron microscopic imaging will be possible by combining structural information obtained at the EM level with functional and dynamic information obtained from 4D imaging of live cells at the light microscopy level. The National FESEM Resource will provide an infrastructure open to all researchers within the infection biology field and will facilitate research collaborations and advanced training within the high resolution Scanning-EM field. The accessibility to analyze pathogens and host cells with such equipment is limited in Sweden and the need for high resolution electron microscopic imaging is urgent in the infection biology field. The high resolution Field Emission Scanning-EM instrument will also be used in research projects with focus in additional research fields of biomedicine/cell biology, as well as plant biotechnology/wood science, chemistry and physics at Umeå university and at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

More about the FESEM Platform here

Swedish Research Council (VR) decision: Seven MIMS group leaders receive funds

This year's funding decision of the Swedish Research Council gives support to 7 MIMS group leaders with more than 20 Mio SEK.
Felipe Cava will receive, SEK 8.5 Mio , which is the highest single fund to a scientist at Umeå University.

In total the funding is very impressive for the infection biology research at Umeå Centre for Microbial Research UCMR and MIMS which receive 29% of the total funding of the University by the Swedish Research Council.

Press release by Umeå University (in Swedish only - including the list of the funded projects)

Press release and analysis by the Swedish Research Council (in Swedish only)

Anna Överby receives grant for Future Research Leaders by SSF

Anna Överby, since 2011 group leader at MiMS is the only researcher at Umeå University who will receive the Future's Research Leaders grant from the Foundation for Strategic Research ("Framtidens Forskningsledare, Stiftelsen för Strategisk Forskning"). She is one of 20 other young outstanding scientists who will receive 10 million SEK each. Anna Överby is the only scientist at Umeå University who was selected. Before her the MIMS group leaders Richard Lundmark, Andrei Chabes, and Niklas Arnberg received the generous grant.

More information:
Webpage of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research SSF

Webpage of Anna Överby's research group

Press release of Umeå University (iin Swedish only)

Iain Mattaj, Honorary Doctor 2013 at Umeå University

Honorary Doctor Iain Mattaj 20131019 JG2

Professor Iain Mattaj, Director General, EMBL Heidelberg, Germany, received a honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine during Umeå University's Annual Autumn Ceremony. On the left: Dean Professor Anders Bergh. Iain Mattaj was honoured for his invaluable leadership and continued guidance in establishing the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine and in the development of MIMS.
(Picture: Johan Gunséus, Synk)

Read more about the Annual Autumn Ceremony, 19 October 2013 at Umeå University


Richard Lundmark honoured with Sven and Ebba-Christina Hagbergs prize

Associate Professor Richard Lundmark, group leader at MIMS and head of the Biochemical Imaging Centre at the department of medical biochemistry and biophysics, receives the Sven and Ebba-Christina Hagbergs prize for 2013.

Richard and the second awardee, Emma Sparr at Lund University will receive SEK 300.000 each from the foundation which mainly promotes biochemical and medical research.

Richard Lundmark is not the first MIMS group leader who receives the prize. In 2012 Andrei Chabes was also awarded by the Sven and Ebba-Christina Hagberg foundation.

Press release in Swedish on (in Swedish only)
Webpage of Richard Lundmark's group at MIMS
Webpage of the Biochemical Imaging Centre at the department of medical biochemistry and biophysics

VINNOVA funding for research on tuberculosis

Mikael Elofsson and Christer Larsson, researchers at Umeå University's departments for chemistry and molecular biology, were granted SEK 3.9 million by VINNOVA for a three-year research project to study new therapies against tuberculosis. The poject involves expertise in chemistry, and molecular infection biology and is a collaboration with scientists in Bangalore, India, headed by Tanjore Balganes, Open Source Drug Discovery, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Read more on the webpage of Umeå University; in Swedish only)

Antibiotics may trigger bacterial resistance against immune defences - Sun Nynt Wai and colleagues publish in PLOS Pathogens

TEM of Vibrio cell small SNWFor the first time, scientists at Umeå University show how bacterial resistance to antimicrobial peptides in the immune defence may develop as the result of treatment with an antibiotic substance.

The rapid emergence antimicrobial resistance among pathogenic is a big medical and scientific challenge of our time. There is a need for development of new treatment strategies and such efforts require that the molecular mechanisms of bacterial resistance are understood.

Umeå University’s scientists professor Sun Nyunt Wai, professor Bernt Eric Uhlin and their colleagues at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) study the molecular mechanisms contributing to the survival and spread of Vibrio cholerae, the causative organism of cholera. This Gram-negative bacterium is responsible for many large epidemics of infectious disease that has killed millions of people. Cholera infections are getting more and more life-threatening as several bacterial variants already exist that are resistant against some antibacterial components of the innate human immune system.

During their growth Vibrio cholerae bacteria release small membrane vesicles from the outer membrane. They are filled with substances that may affect and damage the human host cells.

Read more: Antibiotics may trigger bacterial resistance against immune defences - Sun Nynt Wai and colleagues...

56,8 million SEK funding from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for infection research in Umeå

Important funding for MIMS and UCMR.

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation considers two projects lead by MIMS scientists that they will lead to scientific breakthrough and assigned them with extraordinary funding.

The project "New drugs against viral infections of the respiratory tract and eyes" will receive 23,8 million SEK and has the long-term goal to identify the detailed mechanisms that viruses use to get into  a cell. The main applicant is Niklas Arnberg, professor and group leader at MIMS.

The second project will mainly study "New strategies to disarm bacteria" and receives 33 million SEK . Main applicant of this project is MIMS/UCMR group leader professor Sven Bergström, also head of the department of Molecular Biology.

Read more: 56,8 million SEK funding from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for infection research in Umeå

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