Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Some experiments were not performed appropriately:” Florida researchers lose two papers

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Two molecular biologists have withdrawn two 2015 papers published in the same journal, citing image duplication and manipulation, among other issues.

One notice — published in June — explains that, after further investigation, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) found certain experiments “were not performed appropriately.” The other notice cites “missing data” and notes that certain data “did not accurately represent experimental conditions.”

The authors of the papers—Daniel L. Kaplan, associate professor at Florida State University who heads a genomics lab, and Irina Bruck, assistant scholar scientist in Kaplan’s lab—also received a correction in JBC this month, which cites image duplication.

The three notices, all published this month in JBC, may reveal a pattern, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. One of the two papers was questioned on PubPeer. Several commenters flagged duplicated images and had questions about the antibody used.

Here’s one retraction notice, published this month:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors. The Dpb11 immunoblot from whole cell extracts in Fig. 4A and the Arp3 immunoblot from whole cell extracts in Fig. 4B were duplicated. Upon further investigation by the Journal, the Journal determined that the co-immunoprecipitation experiments shown in Fig. 4, A and B, were not performed appropriately.

The replication initiation protein Sld3/Treslin orchestrates the assembly of the replication fork helicase during S phase” has been cited seven times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Here’s the second retraction notice, also published in June:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors. Fig. 1, A and B, contained missing data. The phospho-Mcm2 antibody in Fig. 1C did not accurately represent experimental conditions. The Mcm2-His immu- noblots in Fig. 4A were duplicated. The Sld3-Myc immunoblot from whole cell extracts in Fig. 4A was inappropriately manipulated. The Sld3-Myc immunoblot from the co-immunoprecipitation experiment in Fig. 4A was a composite. A portion of the Psf2-5Flag immunoblot from the co-immunoprecipitation experiment from Fig. 4A was duplicated from the Cdc45-6HA immunoblot from the same figure panel. The Cdc45-6HA immunoblot from whole cell extracts in Fig. 4A and the Psf2-5Flag immunoblot from the co-immunoprecipitation experiment in Fig. 4B were duplicated. Lane 1 from the Sld3-Myc immunoblot from the co-immunoprecipitation experiment in Fig. 4B was duplicated from lane 8 of the Sld3-Myc immunoblot from the co-immunoprecipitation experiment in Fig. 4A.

The Dbf4-Cdc7 kinase promotes Mcm2-7 ring opening to allow for single-stranded DNA extrusion and helicase assembly” has been cited 18 times.

Kaplan and Bruck also received a correction to a 2011 paper, which cites inadvertent image duplication. Here’s the notice:

The panels in Fig. 1B depicting binding of GST-Sld3 to ssARS1-4 and to ssARS1-6 were inadvertently duplicated. As the original data were no longer available, these experiments were repeated. The repeated experiments are shown. This correction does not affect the results or conclusions of this work.

Origin single-stranded DNA releases Sld3 protein from the Mcm2–7 complex, allowing the GINS tetramer to bind the Mcm2–7 complex” has been cited 20 times.

We reached out to Kaplan and Bruck for more details, but have not yet heard back.

Gary K. Ostrander, vice president for research at Florida State University, explained:

We are aware of the retractions and are following FSU policies regarding this matter. We have no further comment at this time.

Kaoru Sakabe—data integrity manager at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (which publishes JBC)—told us:

I can confirm that some experiments were not performed appropriately.

Sakabe also explained:

The Journal is committed to correcting the literature based on information and data provided by the authors. It is up to the author’s institution to determine whether misconduct has occurred.

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