Salmon and other freshwater fish and amphibians supercharge their ability to see red and infrared light. Scientists at the School of Medicine have shown that this evolutionary adaptation hinges on the activity of an enzyme that converts vitamin A1 to vitamin A2, enabling the aquatic creatures to more easily navigate murky waters.
It’s a little like finding out that Superman is actually Clark Kent. A team of biologists at Washington University in St. Louis has discovered that two vital cellular components, nuclear RNA Polymerases IV and V (Pol IV and V), found only in plants, are actually specialized forms of RNA Polymerase II, an essential enzyme of all eukaryotic organisms, including humans.
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease is a goal of Raphael Kopan, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at the Washington University School of Medicine. The moss plant Physcomitrella patens, studied in the laboratory of Ralph S. Quatrano, Ph.D., the Spencer T. Olin Professor and chair of the biology department on WUSTL’s Danforth Campus, might inch Kopan toward that goal.