Sinead Miggin, a biologist at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, has withdrawn two papers from the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) and has corrected another paper, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Here’s the opaque JBC notice for “14-3-3ϵ and 14-3-3σ inhibit Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated proinflammatory cytokine induction,” a paper first published in November 2012:
This article has been withdrawn by the authors.
The paper has been cited five times, according to Thomson Scientific.
And here’s the other unhelpful JBC notice, for “Modulation of TLR3, TLR4 and TLR7 mediated IFN-β, Rantes and TNFα production by HIVEP1,” a paper first published in April 2014:
The manuscript was withdrawn by the author.
Here’s the PNAS correction, for 2007’s “NF-κB activation by the Toll-IL-1 receptor domain protein MyD88 adapter-like is regulated by caspase-1:”
The authors note that Fig. 3 appeared incorrectly. Panel B (Top) depicting the time course of NF-κB activation in wild type and caspase-1 deficient peritoneal macrophages is not the same version as the authors submitted originally to PNAS. A correct version including vertical rules to indicate splicing is shown below. Regarding panel C, during the preparation of the manuscript, we inadvertently repeated a set of p38 blots corresponding to p-p38 Western blots. The correct p38 Western blots are shown below. The findings of the paper have not been affected by the error and the authors apologize to the editors and readers. The corrected figure and its legend appear below.
Caspase-1 is required for Mal to signal. (A) (Upper) U373 cells were transfected with a 5x NF-κB reporter gene plasmid. Cells were left untreated or pretreated with YVAD-Cmk (100 μM) or IL-1 receptor antagonist (1 μg/ml) for 1 h. Thereafter, cells were untreated or incubated with LPS (1 μg/ml) or IL-1 (100 ng/ml) for 6 h. Shown is the mean relative stimulation of luciferase activity ± SD for a representative experiment from three separate experiments. (Lower) THP-1 cells were left untreated or pretreated with YVAD-Cmk (100 μM) or IETD-Fmk (50 μM) for 1 h followed by treatment with Pam3Cys (1 μg/ml) or IL-1 (1 μg/ml) for 0–120 min. Activation of p38 was analyzed by using an anti-phospho-p38-specific antibody. (B) (Top) Time course of NF-κB activation in wild-type and caspase-1-deficient peritoneal macrophages stimulated with LPS (10 ng/ml), Malp-2 (10 nM), and R848 (10 μM) as detected by EMSA. (Middle) Supershift assay was performed by using an anti-p65 antibody for 1 h before analysis by EMSA. Protein:DNA complexes are shown. (Bottom) Wild-type and caspase-1-deficient murine embryonic fibroblasts were treated with LPS (100 ng/ml), lipid A (100 ng/ml), or Malp-2 (10 nM) as indicated, followed by immunoblot analysis of the cell lysates with antibodies directed against IκBα or β-actin. (C) Time course of p38 activation in wild-type and caspase-1-deficient peritoneal macrophages stimulated with LPS (100 ng/ml), Malp-2 (10 nM), and IL-1 (1 μg/ml) analyzed by immunoblotting with phospho-p38-specific antibodies. Total p38 levels are also shown. (D) Time course of p38 activation in wild-type and caspase-1-deficient peritoneal murine embryonic fibroblasts stimulated with LPS (100 ng/ml) or Malp-2 analyzed by immunoblotting with phospho-p38-specific antibodies. Total p38 levels are also shown.
The paper has been cited 66 times.
We’re not sure what prompted any of these corrections of the record, but we do know that the pseudonymous Clare Francis emailed PNAS about the now-corrected paper on April 27, 2013. The correction for the paper appeared in October 2013.
We contacted Miggin for comment, and will update with anything we learn.
Update, 12 p.m. Eastern, 9/16/14: Miggin tells us:
The authors of the following papers J Biol Chem, 2012, 287:38665-79 (JBC/2012/367490) and the Paper in Press, JBC/2013/516062 have become aware of inconsistencies in data presentation and as a result the authors requested that the papers be withdrawn. The matter has been referred by the senior author to the host University, and the University is acting in accordance with its policy on research integrity. That policy embodies an important principle of natural justice, that no-one’s reputation should be damaged unless it is determined by a formal investigation that something which threatens the integrity of the research record has occurred. For that reason the process is confidential. I request that retraction watch should observe the same principle of natural justice.
Update, 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 9/16/14: Maynooth’s vice president for research, Bernard Mahon, sent us this response:
On July 21st 2014, the senior author on two publications in the Journal of Biological Chemistry informed the University of issues relating to data presentation in those papers. Subsequently the authors withdrew the publications. In the meantime the University has begun a wide ranging examination of the issue under our Research Integrity Policy.