Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Updated: Integrity “uncertain,” journal retracts stroke paper

without comments

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Experimental & Molecular Medicine has retracted a 2012 paper on stroke by a group of South Korean researchers after learning that one of the figures in the article was unreliable.

The article was titled “Protective effects of transduced Tat-DJ-1 protein against oxidative stress and ischemic brain injury,” and it came from a team at Hallym University in Chunchon.

According to the retraction notice:

The following article from Experimental & Molecular Medicine has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief and the Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The article has been retracted because of concerns about the data represented in Figure 1. When the concerns were presented to the authors, they agreed that they resulted in the integrity of the paper being uncertain and so requested the retraction be enacted.

We’ll note that, despite it’s rather wishy-washy construction — “When the baseball left my hand it flew toward the window pane, disrupting the uniformity of the glass” — the statement says rather a lot. After all, when it comes to data the difference between reliability and integrity is wide.

We’ve contacted those involved in this case, and will update with anything we learn. The paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s Figure 1, by the way:

emm-44-586-g001

Purification of Tat-DJ-1 protein. A schematic representation of the Tat-DJ-1 protein (A). Expressed and purified fusion proteins were analyzed by 12% SDS-PAGE (B) and subjected to Western blot analysis with an anti-rabbit polyhistidine antibody (C). Lanes in B and C are as follows: lane 1, non-induced Tat-DJ-1; lane 2, induced Tat-DJ-1; lane 3, purified Tat-DJ-1.

Update, 9:15 a.m. Eastern, 5/29/13: The integrity of the paper is looking a lot more certain — in the wrong direction.

We heard from Dae-Myung Jue, editor-in-chief of Experimental & Molecular Medicine, who told us that the image was indeed manipulated, with

some bands in [the figure had been] cut and pasted.

Jue said the journal contacted only the corresponding author of the article, SY Choi, and not the institution, which in our view might have been an important step given that the corresponding author had eight retractions on his record prior to the latest one:

Transduced Tat-alpha-synuclein protects against oxidative stress in vitro and in vivo. Choi HS, Lee SH, Kim SY, An JJ, Hwang SI, Kim DW, Yoo KY, Won MH, Kang TC, Kwon HJ, Kang JH, Cho SW, Kwon OS, Choi JH, Park J, Eum WS, Choi SY. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 May 31;39(3):253-62. Retraction in: BMB Rep. 2010 Apr;43(4):304.

Immunohistochemical studies of human ribosomal protein S3 (rpS3). Choi SH, Kim SY, An JJ, Lee SH, Kim DW, Won MH, Kang TC, Park J, Eum WS, Kim J, Choi SY. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Mar 31;39(2):208-15. Retraction in: BMB Rep. 2010 Apr;43(4):304.

Tat-mediated protein transduction of human brain pyridoxine-5-P oxidase into PC12 cells. Kim SY, An JJ, Kim DW, Choi SH, Lee SH, Hwang SI, Kwon OS, Kang TC, Won MH, Cho SW, Park J, Eum WS, Lee KS, Choi SY. J Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Jan 31;39(1):76-83. Retraction in: BMB Rep. 2010 Apr;43(4):304.

Enhanced transduction of Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase with HIV-1 Tat protein transduction domains at both termini. Eum WS, Jang SH, Kim DW, Choi HS, Choi SH, Kim SY, An JJ, Lee SH, Han K, Kang JH, Kang TC, Won MH, Cho YJ, Choi JH, Kim TY, Park J, Choi SY. Mol Cells. 2005 Apr 30;19(2):191-7. Retraction in: Mol Cells. 2010 Apr;29(4):433.

Transduced Tat-SOD fusion protein protects against ischemic brain injury. Kim DW, Eum WS, Jang SH, Kim SY, Choi HS, Choi SH, An JJ, Lee SH, Lee KS, Han K, Kang TC, Won MH, Kang JH, Kwon OS, Cho SW, Kim TY, Park J, Choi SY. Mol Cells. 2005 Feb 28;19(1):88-96. Retraction in: Mol Cells. 2010 Apr;29(4):433.

Ginsenosides enhance the transduction of tat-superoxide dismutase into mammalian cells and skin. Kim DW, Eum WS, Jang SH, Yoon CS, Choi HS, Choi SH, Kim YH, Kim SY, Lee ES, Baek NI, Kwon HY, Choi JH, Choi YC, Kwon OS, Cho SW, Han K, Lee KS, Park J, Choi SY.Mol Cells. 2003 Dec 31;16(3):402-6. Retraction in: Mol Cells. 2010 Apr;29(4):433.

Transduction efficacy of Tat-Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase is enhanced by copper ion recovery of the fusion protein. Eum WS, Choung IS, Kim AY, Lee YJ, Kang JH, Park J, Lee KS, Kwon HY, Choi SY. Mol Cells. 2002 Apr 30;13(2):334-40. Retraction in: Mol Cells. 2010 Apr;29(4):433.
9-polylysine protein transduction domain: enhanced penetration efficiency of superoxide dismutase into mammalian cells and skin. Park J, Ryu J, Jin LH, Bahn JH, Kim JA, Yoon CS, Kim DW, Han KH, Eum WS, Kwon HY, Kang TC, Won MH, Kang JH, Cho SW, Choi SY. Mol Cells. 2002 Apr 30;13(2):202-8. Retraction in: Mol Cells. 2010 Apr;29(4):433.

Comments
  • puzzled monkey May 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I know this is a stupid question, but what does lane M in figure 1-B represent?

  • cw May 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Molecular marker I would think

  • Conrad T Seitz MD May 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Yes, I agree, it’s a stupid question.

  • Reviewer 3 May 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    To make the case less “uncertain”, drop the brightness on the Figure to see that Panel C has to bands that seem to have been pasted onto white space to give the impression of an entire gel:
    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=6oddfo&s=5

    • littlegreyrabbit May 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      The labels “1” “2” and “3” show the same characteristics. Image compression has the capacity to create strange artifacts.

  • Sylvain Bernès May 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    @Conrad: I gave you a “like” for this post (and nothing for the previous one).

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