The authors of a Current Biology paper published online in February of this year have retracted it after voluminous criticism on post-publication review site PubPeer and a university committee found evidence of figure manipulation.
The paper, “Agonist-Induced GPCR Shedding from the Ciliary Surface Is Dependent on ESCRT-III and VPS4,” was co-authored by Hua Jin and Livana Soetedjo, a graduate student in Jin’s lab. Soetedjo was first author, and Jin was corresponding author.
The comments at PubPeer began on March 24:
The movies presented in the work look very unnatural. Firstly, nothing is moving at all except for released vesicles. Cell shape, primary cilium, and intracellular vesicles are completely freezing. Second, all vesicles released from primary cilium are flowing away almost in straight lines, and moving in very thin area without getting away from focal plane (4 um in the work). The behavior of vesicles seems extraphysical. Can anybody explain what happens in the movies?
Oh, my. Some other oddities:
The strange “washout” effect seen in Fig 4E is also apparent in Tsg101 panels of Figure 4C:
Also, in Figure 4D “lysate” panel, highly similar bands in adjacent lanes raise the possibility of bane duplication:
Also, highly similar bands appear in different lanes of Figure 5A:
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).
Concerns regarding the western blotting and live-cell imaging data presented in this paper were reported to the journal editors. An investigation by a faculty committee at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the work was carried out, concluded that some figures had been manipulated by the first author. In light of the committee’s findings, the corresponding author wishes to retract the paper in full. The first author agreed with the retraction of this work but declined further explanation. The corresponding author apologizes to the journal, the reviewers of the manuscript, and the scientific community for the inconvenience caused.
University investigations often take a long time, so the retraction is quite swift given that such an investigation had to take place. We’ve asked Soetedjo for more details, and will update with anything we learn.