Stories about publications by members of the department.

Davidson and Maxwell help discover off-switches for CRISPR

31 January 2017|


Featured on the cover of Cell, Biochemistry’s Dr. Alan Davidson and Dr. Karen Maxwell helped to discover how to turn off CRISPR. Read the full story.


Study indicates malnutrition in children may lead to severe impairments in liver function

7 September 2016|

A group led by Peter Kim and Robert Bandsma (Paediatrics) made a breakthrough published in Journal of Cell Biology and in the Journal of Hepatology in linking peroxisome function through the gene PEX2 and the cell’s response to starvation.

Malnourished children living in the same household who are given the same food to eat sometimes have stark differences in health, leading researchers to query why some severely malnourished […]

An image of overview of strategy for screening for novel mtDNA repair and replication factors.

Kelley lab screened for new pathways involved in the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA

6 June 2016|

In a paper recently published in Nature Chemical Biology, Simon Wisnovsky in Kelley laboratory describes a high-throughput screening study that leverages small-molecule probes to look for new DNA repair and replication factors in human mitochondria.  The study uncovered a DNA polymerase that is essential for mitochondrial function that had never been observed in the organelle before.  Given the importance of mitochondria as cellular energy generators and trigger points […]

Photo credit: Kerry Williamson

Howell lab develop novel ways to treat chronic bacterial infections

3 June 2016|

Bacterial biofilms represent a significant medical challenge due to the inability of therapeutics and the immune system to penetrate this protective coating. In a paper published online on May 20, 2016 in Science Advances, the Howell lab identified and produced two enzymes that the Gram-negative pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa use to synthesis two exopolysaccharides, to degrade this critical component of the biofilm. The enzymes, known as glycoside hydrolases, do […]

The photo shows Scott Prosser, Oliver Ernst, and senior research scientists, Libin Ye and Ned van Eps, discussing recent results in the lab.

Understanding the Molecular Underpinnings of Cell Signaling through GPCRs

17 May 2016|

A class of receptors responsible for regulating neuronal function is part of the focus of a recent study by the Prosser and Ernst labs at UofT. Their paper, “Activation of the A2A adenosine G-protein-coupled receptor by conformational selection,” appears in the latest edition of the journal Nature

There is a great deal of interest in understanding this broad class of cell signaling receptors called GPCRs (G-Protein-coupled receptors), which are responsible for basic processes such […]

Advanced protein engineering produces a candidate HIV vaccine prime immunogen - J Jardine C Corbaci

Banting Fellow in Julien lab contributes structure of immune hook that sets paradigm for HIV-1 vaccine testing in humans

24 March 2016|

A CIHR Banting Fellow in the Julien laboratory at the SickKids Research Institute, June Ereño-Orbea solved the crystal structure of an engineered HIV-1 immunogen, which brings the field one step closer to inducing broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) as a major HIV vaccine goal. This study, led by Bill Schief at The Scripps Research Institute and published in Science resolves a critical unmet challenge: to design a molecule that […]

An image of Slam protein.

Moraes lab identify a novel protein (Slam) required for the proper display of virulence factors in bacteria

23 March 2016|

In a paper published online on Feb 29, 2016 in Nature Microbiology, the Moraes lab investigated the transport of surface lipoproteins (SLPs) in Neisseria and discovered a key component of the transport process called SLAM.

Bacterial pathogens that cause gonorrhea and meningitis have developed a number of virulence factors to survive inside our body. One of […]

Williams lab unravels the mechanistic basis of a treatment for prion diseases

3 March 2016|

Prion disease occurs when the normal cellular prion protein (PrPC) is misfolded by a pathogenic form of the protein termed PrP scrapie (PrPSc). One approach to treat prion diseases is to reduce or eliminate PrPC since mice lacking this protein show few ill effects. The human-approved immunosuppressive drug FK506 has been shown to extend survival in prion infected mice but the mechanism has been controversial. In a paper published in the […]

An image of macrophage

New advances in phagocytosis by the Grinstein lab published in Nature Communications

6 January 2016|

Sergio Grinstein’s lab studies phagocytosis –the mechanism responsible for the clearance of pathogens, dead cells and macromolecular debris. The formation of the phagosome and its internalization requires tightly coordinated, localized actin assembly and disassembly. While mechanisms of actin assembly to drive advancing pseudopodia are well studied, the mechanism of actin disassembly was unknown. Screening a library of RhoGAP fluorescent fusion proteins, the Grinstein lab found 3 RhoGAPs that were […]

An image of swimming sperm.

Two-dimensional slither swimming of sperm within a micrometre of a surface

7 December 2015|

Human sperm swim faster and straighter when aligned close to a surface than when there is no surface nearby, reports a study in Nature Communications authored by members of the Sinton and Yip Labs. This may reflect a strategy adapted to a confined reproductive system.

Sperm swim by beating a long tail, called a flagellum, in a helical pattern. In aquatic animals, this propels sperm through the water, but internal […]

Image of cells.

New gene map reveals cancer’s Achilles’ heel

7 December 2015|

A team of Toronto researchers, led by Dr. Jason Moffat, with a contribution from Dr. Stephane Angers, have switched off, one by one, almost 18,000 genes—90 per cent of the entire human genome—to find the genes that are essential for cell survival. These results were published in the latest issue of Cell.

Read more about this research here:

An image of the cover of JBC.

Breaking down the protective armour of the mold Aspergillus fumigatus

3 December 2015|

Collaboration between Dr. P. Lynne Howell  and Dr. Don Sheppard has led to the discovery of a novel class of enzymes and an increased understanding of how to potentially fight a common and deadly fungal infection.

Read more about this publication here:

Listen to the CBC Radio interview with Dr. Don Sheppard.