News – More on Nature’s authorship policy

We did do an update on the Nature/asterisks following a request in twitter about the source of what I mentioned about changes in authorship policy in the journal (what’s in an asterisk). As I said, Nature refers you to the instructions to authors and to a web post for this matter. But, this is not clear. What is clear is what I have heard from authors which is that only three asterisks (joint first authors) and three corresponding authors are allowed. This is like an experiment, only time and use will make clear what this actually means.

One, two or ten, it does not matter. The point here is the one I made earlier, we should not let journals decide the way WE apportion the credits of OUR work. I am all for making clear the contributions of each author in a statement at the end. This is probably a better way to evaluate a piece of work. However while Impact Factor rules, while careers are being decided by first authorships in published work (particularly in journals like Nature), while we go through what is going to be a difficult transition, let us not forget that Science is down to the scientists and not to the journals we chose (and use) to publish our work.

News – Part II students present their work

Well done to our part II project students who made wonderful presentations of their toilings in the lab last Friday. Ellie Davies presented her work (with David Turner) on the requirement for Bra in the movement of Bra +ve ES derived cells (watch this space on this one!). Hilmi (with Penny Hayward) explored the role that E-Cadherin might have on pluripotency (see the intriguing new paper from R. Kemler’s lab in Development on this: E-cadherin is required for the proper activation of the Lifr/Gp130 signaling pathway in mouse embryonic stem cells. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23487312). Leo Sideris (with Tina Balayo) looked at the basis of the pluripotency of Nanog mutant cells, finding that the main input into their state is ß-catenin. Finally Peter Balillie-Johnson (with David Turner and Alfonso Martinez) looked at the role that Oct4 plays during differentiation of ES cells and found one!

We have had good students in the past but I have to say that this year has been a particularly good group. They have made significant contributions to our work and it has been a pleasure to have them in the lab. Now is all down to the exams so: good luck!

News – Development publication

Last week the on-line version of Development published our manuscript “A membrane-associated β-catenin/Oct4 complex correlates with ground-state pluripotency in mouse embryonic stem cells.” Development. 2013 Mar;140(6):1171-83. doi: 10.1242/dev.085654.. Given its checkered history (see the forthcoming blog  “What I learnt from a rejection” ) we were delighted. The work gets close to settle ongoing debates about the impact of ß-catenin, the transcriptional effector of Wnt signalling, on pluripotency in mouse ES cells. It concurs that while ß-catenin contributes to the self renewal of the pluripotent state, this effect is not mediated by its transcriptional activity. We show that ß-catenin/Tcf mediated transcription is very low in self renewing ES cells which, nonetheless, have most of their ß-catenin associated with the membrane. Looking at the relationship between ß-catenin and the components of the pluripotency network we uncover the existence of a membrane associated ß-catenin/Oct4 complex. The amount of this complex correlates with the degree of pluripotency which suggests that it does play a role in the biology of the ES cells. There are some surprises here and time (and of course more experiments) will tell whether the interactions and functional relationships that we describe are important (as we suspect) or just another anecdote of the ES cells world.

News – BSDB

Next week is the annual meeting of the BSDB and look forward to it is a very good place to meet people and discuss cell and developmental biology. Most importantly, it brings the UK community together.

News – Silvia Muñoz Descalzo

We want to congratulate and wish luck to our colleague Silvia Muñoz Descalzo on starting an independent position in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry of the University of Bath. Silvia spent several years in the lab peering into the mysteries of the interactions between Notch and Wnt signalling in Drosophila and more recently in ES cells.