by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

Scents communicate. Wrapped in silence perhaps, yet they have much to say. They may revolt us or delight us, go unnoticed or do nothing for us, but scents always have something to convey. So much so that many of us dab a little perfume on the nape of our neck or spray eau de toilette on our torso at the start of each day. We want to smell nice, or at the very least clean. We may even splash a little scent on before going out with an end to seduce. Much like flowers do. Who has not crossed a room or a lawn to inhale the wonderful perfume released by hyacinths, lilacs or a fragrant rose? Or leaned over to breathe in the delicate scent of jasmine wafting from a cup of tea? Long before humans, plants grasped the advantage of releasing pleasant volatile vibes to attract a pollinator or two. Some viruses have caught on with the practice too - and in a rather cunning way. The cucumber mosaic virus, for instance, is capable of infecting plants while also forcing them to become attractive to insects who will transfer the virus to other plants. Uncharacteristically, one sole protein in CMV can perform both actions. Its name is 2b, or CMV2b.

Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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Snapshot : awa1 and hpf1

When we raise a glass of wine, rarely do we give a thought to what has been involved in its making. Yet a wine's hue, its taste, its aroma, its sparkle and even the nature of its haze are given the same attention a mother would to her newborn. Many of the qualities of a wine are the doings not only of proteins inherent to the grapes, rice or any other product used to make it, but also to proteins which belong to yeast strains that are added for fermentation, and hence the production of alcohol. Two such proteins are AWA1 and HPF1. AWA1 is involved in the production of foam as the Japanese rice wine - sake - is brewed, and HPF1 in the production of haze in white wine. And both proteins belong to the cell wall of different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

A little bit of praise!

“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.

Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.

I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”

— Rohan Chaubal, Senior Researcher in Genomics

Thank you to Aneurin Jones whose work we reproduce on our site!