Cells can take damage from being squeezed, not broken, new research shows. (Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)
Cells can take damage from being squeezed, not broken, new research shows. (Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)Cells moving through small gaps can damage their DNA even without rupturing their nuclei by causing problems with DNA replication, a possible outcome for cancer cells as they move throughout the body during metastasis.

The two possible folds of human signaling protein XCL1. It directs the migration of white blood cells when in the red fold and directly kills invading pathogens in the gold fold. (Acacia Dishman)
The two possible folds of human signaling protein XCL1. It directs the migration of white blood cells when in the red fold and directly kills invading pathogens in the gold fold. (Acacia Dishman)A search through evolutionary time led scientists to learn how and why a particular human protein can fold into a second structure to fulfill a different role, a phenomenon rarely found in proteins.

Zebrafish are just one of a range of tropical fish at risk because of climate change. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Zebrafish are just one of a range of tropical fish at risk because of climate change. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)Zebrafish are unlikely to evolve fast enough to adapt to rising water temperatures caused by climate change, leaving them vulnerable to deadly heat waves predicted in the future.

Cells without certain proteins might be incapable of being infected by COVID-19. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Cells without certain proteins might be incapable of being infected by COVID-19. (NIAID-RML via AP)The novel coronavirus is incapable of infecting human cells that do not produce certain molecules, including some related to cholesterol, researchers found in a paper published in Cell, opening the door for possible COVID-19 drug treatments.

The genome of one of the strangest mammals offers clues about the rest of us. (Unsplash/Meg Jerrard)
The genome of one of the strangest mammals offers clues about the rest of us. (Unsplash/Meg Jerrard)Scientists found evolutionary explanations for some of platypuses’ strangest features, such as laying eggs, sweating milk and having 10 sex chromosomes, by creating the most complete genomes of the unusual mammal and the closely related echidna.

Identical twins aren't completely identical. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Identical twins aren't completely identical. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)Despite originating from the same fertilized egg, about 90% of identical twins have differences in genes that arose from mutations in utero, while 15% of pairs had a substantial number of genetic differences between them, according to new research. It raises questions about the results of scientific twin studies investigating the question of “nature versus nurture” that assume otherwise.

Microplastics could be doing more damage than previously thought. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)
Microplastics could be doing more damage than previously thought. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)German researchers found that mouse cells absorb microplastic particles about 10 times as often when they have been exposed to aquatic environments and developed a crust of biological matter, suggesting that they may enter animal tissue more frequently than previously known.

"Junk DNA" backs the human biological clock. (Unsplash/Jon Tyson)
"Junk DNA" backs the human biological clock. (Unsplash/Jon Tyson)The biological clock in humans is bolstered by more than 100 strands of microRNAs, parts of so-called “junk DNA” that stop protein production, according to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study introduces a new dimension to understanding the 24-hour cycles in cells throughout the body.

Time-lapse gradient light interference microscopy, or GLIM, left, and phase imaging with computational specificity imaged over seven days. (Popescu group)
Time-lapse gradient light interference microscopy, or GLIM, left, and phase imaging with computational specificity imaged over seven days. (Popescu group)An artificial intelligence-powered imaging method developed by a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign research group can capture live cells without using fluorescent dyes, which are toxic to some specimens.

Gold has antibacterial properties, potentially making for a very expensive hand soap. (Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon)
Gold has antibacterial properties, potentially making for a very expensive hand soap. (Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon)Gold's well-known antibacterial properties are derived from mechanical stress it applies to cells, according to a study published in Advanced Materials, in which bacteria were exposed to nanoparticles of the precious metal and had their cell walls stretched beyond their breaking point.

Stevia affects gut microbes, which could lead to health issues, according to a study. (Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon)
Stevia affects gut microbes, which could lead to health issues, according to a study. (Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon)Stevia interferes with signaling between gut bacteria and could lead to health complications, according to a study published in Molecules, although its authors said more research into the natural sugar substitute’s safety is necessary.

The brain has monitor cells that help keep seizures in check. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
The brain has monitor cells that help keep seizures in check. (AP Photo/David Duprey)Researchers at the San Francisco-based Gladstone Institutes discovered in mice studies that the brain's microglia, cells that constantly monitor surrounding neurons, keep spontaneous seizures in check by tempering neuronal hyperactivity.

A human T cell under attack by a virus (in yellow). (AP Photo/Seth Pincus)
A human T cell under attack by a virus (in yellow). (AP Photo/Seth Pincus)By adding a newly developed antibody to human cell cultures, researchers generated a greater number of more effective white blood cells that can slow a harmfully active immune system, according to a paper published in Science Signaling.

A dinosaur, one of the more well-known victims of mass extinction events. (Unsplash/Fausto Garcia)
A dinosaur, one of the more well-known victims of mass extinction events. (Unsplash/Fausto Garcia)Land animals experience a rapid decline in biodiversity approximately every 27.5 million years, a cycle similar to the one found in marine-life mass extinctions, according to a new paper in Paleontology, lending support to a controversial explanation that the events have astronomical origins.

Membrane-separated compartments are visible inside the peroxisomes of 4-day-old Arabidopsis thaliana plant cells in this image from a confocal microscope. (Zachary Wright, Rice University)
Membrane-separated compartments are visible inside the peroxisomes of 4-day-old Arabidopsis thaliana plant cells in this image from a confocal microscope. (Zachary Wright, Rice University)A Rice University graduate student has identified a new subcompartment within peroxisomes, cellular organelles involved in metabolism, and suggested they may play important roles in managing fatty acids and offer a window into a range of disorders.

A scientist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center holds seedlings used for gene editing research. (Federica Narancio, AP)
A scientist at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center holds seedlings used for gene editing research. (Federica Narancio, AP)A trio of Japanese researchers harnessed a DNA-repair mechanism in cells to make gene-editing more accurate and unintended changes less frequent, refining the use of CRISPR technology.

A bird feeds one of its young in an area near street lamps. (Ezra Jeffrey, Unsplash)
A bird feeds one of its young in an area near street lamps. (Ezra Jeffrey, Unsplash) Some birds with strong night vision may have been able to adapt to climate change more effectively by nesting earlier in the season, and using highly lit areas for breeding activities, according to a new paper published in Nature.

Researchers led by Ciro Cabal dyed the pepper plants roots red and blue to track how the close proximity between two plants affects their growth. (Ciro Cabal)
Researchers led by Ciro Cabal dyed the pepper plants roots red and blue to track how the close proximity between two plants affects their growth. (Ciro Cabal)Plants aren’t as selfish as scientists once thought when it comes to growing their roots, avoiding a "tragedy of the commons" of soil nutrients by overproducing roots near their stem but growing fewer around their neighbors.

A deer tick crawls along a leaf. (Erik Karits, Unsplash)
A deer tick crawls along a leaf. (Erik Karits, Unsplash)Bloodsucking ticks rely on an antibacterial enzyme stolen from ancient bacteria to survive on the human body, according to a new study, which emphasizes the findings’ potential to help slow the spread of Lyme disease.

A researcher examines a specimen in a laboratory. (National Cancer Institute, Unsplash)
A researcher examines a specimen in a laboratory. (National Cancer Institute, Unsplash)Raising new questions about the workings of natural selection, scientists have found protein structures whose complexity appears to serve no useful purpose, which runs counter to long-held beliefs that evolution always moves toward greater effectiveness.