Some quick background: the sequence hypothesis
central hypothesis dogma of biology states that DNA gets transcribed to RNA that gets translated into proteins. Some RNAs, however, don’t code for proteins, but instead help to regulate gene expression. These microRNAs are tiny in size, but can regulate gene expression across animal and plant kingdoms.
In September 2011, the Molecular Cell published an entire issue with regulatory RNA as its theme. V. Narry Kim, associate professor at Seoul National University and high-profile microRNA researcher contributed a study that her group has now retracted just months later on June 29.
The problem? A reagent used to purify miRNAs favors some miRNAs and fails to isolate those
rich low in guanine and cytosine — two of the four building blocks of RNA — or those with few secondary folding structures.
Last month, we brought you the story of Soo-Kyung Kang, a Seoul National University stem cell researcher who has now retracted four papers amidst questions about image manipulation in a total of 14 studies. That story has drawn a great deal of attention in Korea, with comparisons to the Woo-Suk Hwang scandal, and has even led to a profile of Retraction Watch in the Seoul Daily, one of Korea’s largest newspapers.
We’ve now learned that the investigation has grown to 25 papers after an anonymous whistleblower warned about possible data fabrications in another paper by Kang, an associate professor of veterinary biotechnology, and Kyung-Sun Kang, director of the Adult Stem Cell Research Center in the same department (but no relation). And Soo-Kyung Kang was investigated in 2010, according to the Korea Herald.
The researchers’ labs are also under lockdown Read the rest of this entry »
Whistleblower forces retractions of four stem cell papers amid questions about more than a dozen studies
In a case that is a good reminder of why journal editors shouldn’t ignore anonymous tips, a Seoul National University stem cell researcher has been forced to retract four papers, and withdraw another under peer review, in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling following a whistleblower’s exhaustive analysis.
Two retractions by Soo Kyung Kang, a professor of veterinary biotechnology at Seoul National University, appeared on May 9 after an anonymous whistleblower sent a 70-slide PowerPoint presentation to the editors of ten journals that contained evidence of suspicious floating error bars, errors larger than actual measurements, pasted-together lanes in PCR gels and RNA and CHIP blots and several cases where the same control blot data is shown across different experiments and in different papers. In all, the whistleblower raises questions about 14 papers in the ten journals.
Antioxidants & Redox Signalling has issued much more detailed retraction notice for a paper it pulled last year that was marred by duplicate data.
As we reported then, the journal’s initial notice for the 2011 article, titled “Inhibition of LXRa-dependent steatosis and oxidative injury by liquiritigenin, a licorice flavonoid, as mediated with Nrf2 activation,” was underwhelming:
THIS WORK HAS BEEN RETRACTED BY THE AUTHORS
Although we learned at the time that a reader, Paul Brookes, of the University of Rochester, had raised concerns about the article to the editors of ARS and other publications, we were glad to see that ARS has decided to make a clean breast of matters. The study has been cited by other papers three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.