We contacted the editors of the two journals — Journal of Cell Science and Biology Open — who both said they decided to flag the papers after a reader raised concerns about potential re-use of blot images. The six papers are co-authored by John G. Pastorino, a molecular biologist at Rowan University in New Jersey and Nataly Shulga, whose LinkedIn identifies her as a research specialist at the same institution. According to the nearly identical notes, the journals (which share a publisher) undertook a review of the original data, but “felt unable to resolve this matter.”
The expressions of concern — five from the Journal of Cell Science and one from Biology Open — include pretty much the same text. Here’s the note that appeared in JCS:
Concerns have been raised about the scientific validity of the article [title.]
Journal of Cell Science takes these matters very seriously for the sake of the scientific record. These concerns were relayed to the corresponding author, who responded with an explanation and original data. Following review of these data, we felt unable to resolve this matter, and have contacted the authors’ institution and requested that they conduct further investigation.
Journal of Cell Science is posting this Publisher’s Note for information purposes only. It is solely intended to alert readers to the situation while the investigation takes place, and is not a statement regarding the validity of the data. We will provide additional information when it becomes available.
This course of action follows the advice set out by COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), of which Journal of Cell Science is a member.
The papers from JCS are
- “Sirtuin-3 deacetylation of cyclophilin D induces dissociation of hexokinase II from the mitochondria,” cited 97 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge (Robin Wilson-Smith is also a co-author).
- “Ethanol sensitizes mitochondria to the permeability transition by inhibiting deacetylation of cyclophilin-D mediated by sirtuin-3,” cited 42 times.
- “GRIM-19-mediated translocation of STAT3 to mitochondria is necessary for TNF-induced necroptosis,” cited 38 times.
- “Sirtuin-3 modulates Bak- and Bax-dependent apoptosis,” cited 12 times. The first author is Manish Verma.
- “Mitoneet mediates TNFα-induced necroptosis promoted by exposure to fructose and ethanol,” cited 8 times.
The papers were funded by institutes within the U.S. National Institutes of Health, such as the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
And here’s the paper from Biology Open:
- “Fructose sensitizes pancreatic beta cells to TNFα-induced necroptosis,” which has not yet been indexed in Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. (Here’s a link to the EOC.)
That paper received “no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.”
The editors of both journals told us they did not know of any other expressions of concern for the pair.
We have reached out to Shulga, Pastorino, and Rowan University. We will update this post with anything else we learn.
Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our new daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy.