Hydrophobic proteins advance "smell" research by ProQuest

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									                                                                                   inform November 2008, Vol. 19 (11)               749

  Briefs
  Whirlpool Corp. (Benton Harbor,
                                          S&D News
  Michigan, USA) has announced that
  it will reduce its workforce by ap-
  proximately 5,000 positions by the
  end of 2009. In addition to the four
  facility closures that Whirlpool an-
  nounced earlier this year, Jeff M.
  Fettig, Whirlpool Corp. chairman
  and chief executive officer, said the
  company is also closing its Jackson,
  Tennessee, facility and transferring
  production to its Findlay, Ohio lo-
  cation.
       The reduction in force of ap-
  proximately 5,000 jobs is being im-
  plemented across the global orga-
  nization. The reduction includes
  both jobs that have already been
  announced through plant closures
  and new reductions taking place
  now and through the end of 2009.
                   nnn
  FMC Corp. (Philadelphia, Pennsyl-
  vania, USA) has announced that
  its Board of Directors has autho-
  rized the repurchase of up to $250
                                          hydrophobic                                     Now, it’s finally available as a raw mate-
                                                                                          rial for people to utilize, and should enable
  million of the company’s common         proteins advance                                many new studies into smell research,”
                                                                                          said Brian Cook, who just defended his
  stock. The new $250 million share
  repurchase program is in addition       “smell” research                                MIT Ph.D. thesis based on this work.
                                                                                                Smell is one of the most complex and
  to the $250 million program that        Massachusetts Institute of Technology           least-understood senses. Humans have a
  has been active since April 2007.       (MIT) biological engineers have found a         vast olfactory system that includes close to
  The authorization gives manage-         way to mass-produce smell receptors in the      400 functional genes, more than are dedi-
  ment discretion in determining con-     laboratory, an advance that paves the way       cated to any other function. That variety of
  ditions under which shares may be       for “artificial noses” to be created and used   receptors allows humans to discern tens of
  purchased from time to time. The        in a variety of settings. The work could        thousands of distinct odors. Each odor acti-
  share repurchase program does           also allow scientists to unlock the mystery     vates multiple receptors and this pattern of
  not include a specific timetable or     of how the sense of smell can recognize a       activation creates a signature that the brain
  price targets and may be suspend-       seemingly infinite range of odors.              can recognize as a particular scent.
  ed or terminated at any time.                “Smell is perhaps one of the oldest and          The olfactory receptors that bind to
                   nnn                    most primitive senses, but nobody really        odor molecules are membrane proteins,
  At the Annual Shareholders Meet-        understands how it works. It still remains a    which span the cell surface. Since cell
  ing of perfume and flavor business      tantalizing enigma,” said Shuguang Zhang,       membranes are composed of a bilayer of
  Firmenich International SA, held        associate director of MIT’s Center for Bio-     fatty lipid molecules, the receptor proteins
                                          medical Engineering and senior author of        are highly hydrophobic.
  in Geneva, Switzerland, Firmenich
                                          a paper on the work appearing in the Pro-             When such proteins are removed from
  Chairman Jean-Marc Bruel con-
                                          ceedings of the National Academy of Sci-        the cell and placed in water-based solu-
  firmed his desire to retire from
                                          ences (PNAS 105:15726–15731, 2008).             tions, they clump up and lose their struc-
  the Board of Directors, after eight          Until now, efforts to understand the       ture, said Liselotte Kaiser, lead author of
  years in office.                        molecular basis of smell have been sty-         the PNAS pap
								
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