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Pannexin helps cells talk to one another

A new study on how a group of proteins called pannexins form communication channels between two cells demonstrates what scientists have long been struggling to confirm1. The study shows that pannexins do form ‘gap junctions’ in specific cell lines where these proteins are less glycosylated (or less attached to sugar molecules).

Pannexins were discovered in 2003 and are believed to be structurally similar to their better known cousins connexin.  In vertebrates, cells communicate through inter-cellular channels called ‘gap junctions’ made out of proteins called connexins. These junctions help exchange metabolites, signaling molecules and ions. In the heart, gap junctions carry electrical impulses helping rhythmic contraction and relaxation. Interruption of junctional communication in the heart may lead to arrhythmia and heart attack. In the nervous system, gap junctions form electrical synapses and help propagate nerve impulses.

Read More: Nature India

  • G. Sahu, S. Sukumaran, and A. K. Bera (2014) Pannexins form gap junctions with electrophysiological and pharmacological properties distinct from connexins Sci rep 4:4955

2014 Summer Workshop on Bioprocess Engineering



Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras is organising a summer workshop on “Problem Solving Skills in Bioprocess Engineering”.

Bioprocess engineering principles and techniques are necessary in environmental remediation, pharmaceuticals, industrial enzymes, agro chemicals, food processing, bio-energy/bio-refinery, specialty chemicals, biomaterials and fermentation industries. It encompasses Bioenergetics, Kinetics of enzymatic reactions, Kinetics of cell growth and product formation, fermentation, Transport phenomena in bioprocess systems, Bioreactors and scale up, Downstream processing, and Upstream processing.

Problem solving skills are very important for design, development, scale-up and manufacturing of bio products. Theory/ lecture notes can be picked by a student from various on-line resources, but problem solving skills (tutorial) have to be acquired with the guidance of experts.

Who should attend?

Any science or technology graduate/post graduate and research scholar student, teachers and industry personnel.

Registration closes on June 9, 2014.

Project Vacancy

Application for post of Senior Project Associate/Post -doctoral fellowship in a IGCS-DST funded project on “Analyses of micropollutants in water bodies in Chennai through GC-MS” for two years. Candidates who have research experience in chemical/biochemical analyses of water and or related environmental chemistry topic are preferred. Qualifications are M.Sc./M.Tech./PhD. in Organic or Analytical Chemistry /Environmental chemistry /Chemical engineering /Civil or Environmental engineering/Analytical Biochemistry with experience in handling GC-MS, extraction techniques and sophisticated analytical techniques like HPLC, LC- MS etc… Fellowship will range from ₹18,000 to 30,000 p.m. depending on the qualifications and experience.

Applications may be sent via email to Professor Dr T.S. Chandra, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras, Chennai -36 (E-mail id : chandrasainathan@yahoo·com)

MS/PhD Research Topics (July 2014)

  1. Volatile mediated chemotaxis in Dictyostelium
  2. The onset of paternal gene expression after fertilization in Arabidopsis
  3. Host-pathogen interaction in tuberculosis
  4. Enhancing hypoxia-regulated overexpression of angiogenic factors
  5. Stem cell biology: Epigenetic changes during stem cell differentiation/3D culture of stem cell derived tissues/role of micro RNA in tissue differentiation/exploring angiogenesis in stem cell derived tissues
  6. Preclinical studies of immunotoxins in mouse model
  7. Pretreatment and Hydrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass for Production of Ethanol and Co-Products
  8. Control of self-renewal and differentiation decisions in the germline stem cells
  9. Strategies to enhance production of camptothecinin by in vitro cultivation of the endophyte, Fusarium solani
  10. Downstream process design for purification of high-MW hyaluronan
  11. Metabolic engineering of lactic acid bacteria for propionic acid production
  12. Nano-particle toxicology: mechanisms and consequences
  13. Investigating the role of protein aggregation and interactions in Parkinson’s disease
  14. Modelling and functional annotation of membrane proteins
  15. Folding and functional characterization of regulatory protein domains using multiple spectroscopic probes
  16. Synthetic biology: Design and characterisation of circadian oscillators
  17. Systems biology: Engineering regulatory networks in microbial systems
  18. Metabolic engineering: Enhance production of bioethanol through engineering of novel synthetic regulatory circuits
  19. Molecular modeling of urea induced protein denaturation
  20. Computational characterization of PEG-peptide interactions for (cancer) therapeutics
  21. Unusual organic biotransformations using yeast/ plant cells
  22. Biomolecular purification in two phase aqueous systems
  23. Post-transcriptional regulation of candidate genes for cardiovascular diseases

Young Investigator Award

Kiranmayi Malapaka, PhD Research Scholar, Department of Biotechnology (BT11D014) has received the ‘Young Investigator Award’ in Clinical Research for best oral presentation at the 11th Annual Conference of International Society for Heart Research held during February 8 to 9, 2014 at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab. Her presentation was entitled ‘Discovery of SNPs in the Catestatin / Parastatin Region of Chromogranin A and their Association with Metabolic Syndrome in Indian Populations’.

Best Poster Awards (ACB 2013)

The following research scholars from our department have received ‘Best Poster Awards’ under various categories for their posters (from among 203 posters presented) at the 2nd Asian Congress on Biotechnology during 15-19 December 2013 at New Delhi :

  • Rothangmawi Victoria Hmar (BT09D018) for her poster entitled “Metabolic Engineering of Lactococcus Lactis by Chromosomal Integra-tion for Hyaluronan Production”, co-authored with Prof. Guhan Jayaraman and Prof. K B Ramachandran under category Bioprocess Engineering
  • Jyotsna Jolly (BT08D015) for his poster entitled “Production of 1, 3-Propanediol from Glycerol with Lactobacillus reuteri“, co-authored with Dr. Bernd Hitzmann, University of Hohenheim, Germany; Dr. S Ramalingam, Anna University; and Prof. K.B. Ramachandran  under the category Bioprocess Engineering
  • Veerabhadra M V (BT12S004) for his poster entitled “Identification of Potential Metabolic Markers in the Transformation of Head and Neck Cancer” co-authored with Dr. Rayala SK, and Prof. Ramachandran KB under the category Biotechnology Tools

Poster Presentation Awards (IETC 2013)

The details of the prizes won by the PhD Research Scholars of our department at the International Conference on Emerging Trends in Chemical Sciences (IETC-2013) held at VIT University, Vellore during December 5-7, 2013 are given below :

  •  ‘First Prize’ for poster presentation was won by Shri S. Jayakumar (BT08D012) for his poster on ‘Highly Enantio and Diastereoselective Allylic Alkylation of 3-Hydroxy Oxindoles and their Application in Synthesizing Oxindole Spiroethers’. He is guided by Dr. V. Kesavan, Associate Professor.
  • ‘Third Prize’ for poster presentation was won by Shri T. Saravanan (BT08D033) for his poster on ‘Synthesis of Both R&S Enantiomers of 1, 4-Diphenylbut-3-yn-2-ol using Whole Cells of Candida Parapsilosis ATCC 7330’.  He is guided by Prof. Anju Chadha.

Prizes won at iGEM 2013

The team comprising of the following nine 4th year undergraduate students from the Department of Biotechnology participated in the prestigious synthetic biology competition iGEM and won a Gold Medal at the Regional Jamboree (Hong Kong) and were also awarded a Special Prize for the ‘Best Human Practices Advance’:

  • Aman Kumar (BT10B003)
  • Kanishka Waghmare Purushottam (BT10B047)
  • Mayank NK Choudhary (BT10B025)
  • Mitan Sutradhar (BT10B026)
  • Namit Sunil Holay (BT10B029)
  • Nandita Damaraju (BT10B030)
  • Nishita Mohan PV (BT10B061)
  • Rohan Pradeep Bendre (BT10B036)
  • Tolkappiyan Premkumar (BT10B045)

We congratulate the team for this achievement and Dr.Dhinakar Kompala, alumnus and Dr. Shrikumar Suryanarayan, Adjunct Faculty for the support provided by them to the team.

ABAP Talented Industrial Biotechnologist Award (2013)

Prof. Sathyanarayana N. Gummadi has been chosen for the Talented Industrial Biotechnologist Award for the year 2013 by the Association of Biotechnology and Pharmacy (ABAP). He will receive a Gold Medal, Memento and Certificate during the 7th annual Convention of ABAP and International Conference on Plant Biotechnology, Molecular Medicine and Human Health being organized at University of Delhi during 18-20 October 2013.

Award for the Best Publishing BTISnet Centres (2013)

The Computational Biology group of our Department has been recognised as one of the best performing groups in the country by DBT Biotechnology Information System Network, among 170 top institutions in the country.