Two birds, one stone

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

All organisms depend on sets of vital connections, on parts that link to one another to form an intricate and organised whole. Without these connections, all things physiological and metabolic would simply fall apart. Consider animals - for the sake of simplicity. First of all, they require a membrane of sorts, such as skin, to hold everything together and in one place. Skeletons, if they have one, form a scaffold to which is attached muscle. In turn, muscles help to hold various organs in place as does their surrounding connective tissue. Connective tissue can be seen as a sort of biological glue-cum-support that fills in the 'empty' spaces and is composed of cells and 'extracellular matrix' - which, broadly speaking, is a collection of highly organized protein fibres. One of these fibres is fibrillin. Fibrillin is not new to researchers. However, what has recently come as a surprise is the destiny of the C-terminal end of one fibrillin sequence after maturation. Contrary to what had been thought until now, this end is not simply discarded but is actually the sequence of another protein: a protein hormone, since named asprosin.

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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

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