PCMM | Highlights

 August 26, 2016

Xing Liu was awarded Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowships

Dr. Xing Liu , a postdoctoral fellow in the Lieberman lab, will investigate the  underlying mechanism responsible for global mRNA decay during programmed cell death. Decay of mRNA, but not noncoding RNAs, which is triggered when the mitochondrial outer membrane is disrupted early in cell death, is a previously unrecognized mediator of programmed cell death.

 July 7, 2016

When antibiotics fail: A potential new angle on severe bacterial infection and sepsis

By Nancy Fliesler

Bacterial infections that don’t respond to antibiotics are of rising concern. And so is sepsis — the immune system’s last-ditch, failed attack on infection that ends up being lethal itself. Sepsis is the largest killer of newborns and children worldwide and, in the U.S. alone, kills a quarter of a million people each year. Like antibiotic-resistant infections, it has no good treatment.

Reporting this week in Nature, scientists in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (PCMM) describe new potential avenues for controlling both sepsis and the runaway bacterial infections that provoke it.

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 January 27, 2016

Microptosis: Programmed death for microbes?

By Tom Ulrich

Of the various ways for a cell to die — necrosis, autophagy, etc. — apoptosis is probably the most orderly and contained. Also called programmed cell death (or, colloquially, “cellular suicide”), apoptosis is an effective way for diseased or damaged cells to remove themselves from a population before they can cause problems such as tumor formation.

“Apoptosis has special features,” says Judy Lieberman, MD, PhD, an investigator in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “It’s not inflammatory, and it activates death pathways within the cell itself.”

Conventional wisdom holds that apoptosis is exclusive to multicellular organisms. Lieberman disagrees. She thinks that microbial cells — such as those of bacteria and parasites — can die in apoptotic fashion as well. In a recent Nature Medicine paper, she and her team make the case for the existence of what they’ve dubbed “microptosis.” And they think it could be harnessed to treat parasitic and other infections.

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