Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘crystallography retractions’ Category

Structural biology corrections highlight best of the scientific process

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Nature_latest-coverIf you need evidence of the value of transparency in science, check out a pair of recent corrections in the structural biology literature.

This past August, researchers led by Qiu-Xing Jiang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center corrected their study, first published in February 2014 in eLife, of prion-like protein aggregates called MAVS filaments, to which they had ascribed the incorrect “helical symmetry.” In March, Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues corrected their 2014 Nature study of a protein complex called CEACAM1/TIM-3, whose structure they had attempted to solve using x-ray crystallography.

In both cases, external researchers were able to download and reanalyze the authors’ own data from public data repositories, making it quickly apparent what had gone wrong and how it needed to be fixed — highlighting the very best of a scientific process that is supposed to be self-correcting and collaborative. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retracts paper six years after it was flagged for fraud

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cover_natureNature retracted a paper on protein structures today, six years after an investigation at the University of Alabama identified several structures that were “more likely than not falsified and/or fabricated” by one of the authors.

The paper came under scrutiny soon after it was published in 2006. A letter published in Nature that same year pointed out “physically implausible features in the structures it described.” That triggered the investigation at the University of Alabama, the result of which was published in 2009, identifying “nine publications related to the same protein structures that should be retracted from various scientific journals.” Everything was pinned on last author H.M. Krishna Murthy, who the investigation determined was “solely responsible for the fraudulent data.”

A 2009 Nature news article on the investigation declared that the “fraud is the largest ever in protein crystallography.”

We’re not sure what took Nature so long to retract the letter, titled “The structure of complement C3b provides insights into complement activation and regulation.” Here’s the note, which explains that not all the authors agreed to the retraction:

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“Unethical behavior” breaks crystallography paper

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Molecules and Cells

A 2011 paper about the crystal structure of a transcription regulator has been pulled by Molecules and Cells for “unethical behavior by the authors.”

Unfortunately, we can’t say much more than that, because the notice doesn’t, either: Read the rest of this entry »

Two crystallography papers break apart for “trivial errors,” says author

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ACBiophysicists in India have retracted two crystallography papers describing protein binding sites following “concerns,” according to one retraction note.

The last author on both papers, however, told us he believed the retractions were the result of “trivial errors.” Although one journal praised him in its retraction note for his “positive engagement,” he said the process left him feeling “disgusted.”

One paper, “Structural Studies on Molecular Interactions between Camel Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein, CPGRP-S, and Peptidoglycan Moieties N-Acetylglucosamine and N-Acetylmuramic Acid,” was withdrawn from the Journal of Biological Chemistry in August 2014.

The second, “Mode of binding of the antithyroid drug propylthiouracil to mammalian haem peroxidases,” was retracted from Acta Crystallographica Section F this month. Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Crystal confusion leads to retractions for optics researchers

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spectrochimica acta part aA mistaken molecular structure has led to a retraction and a withdrawal for group in India studying optical crystals.

Here’s the notice for “Crystal growth and spectroscopic characterization of Aloevera amino acid added lithium sulfate monohydrate: A non-linear optical crystal” in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Read the rest of this entry »

Doing the right thing: Authors retract protein paper after finding experimental errors

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embo reportsA group of researchers in the Netherlands has retracted a paper once they realized that the findings weren’t reproducible and that there had been an error in the experiments.

Here’s the notice for “Ubiquitin‐specific protease 4 is inhibited by its ubiquitin‐like domain,” by MP Luna‐Vargas, AC Faesen, WJ van Dijk, M Rape, A Fish, and TK Sixma: Read the rest of this entry »

A partial retraction appears for former Salzburg crystallographer who admitted misconduct

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j imm april 2013A paper by a crystallographer fired from his university for misconduct has been partially retracted.

Last year, we covered the case of Robert Schwarzenbacher, formerly of Salzburg University. Schwarzenbacher had provided the crystallographic data for a paper in the Journal of Immunology, but those results raised questions with another crystallographer and prompted an investigation by the university.  Schwarzenbacher admitted he’d committed misconduct, although he recanted at one point, and was eventually fired.

Now, the authors have retracted the crystallographic data from the Journal of Immunology paper. Here’s the partial retraction, which is listed as a correction:
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“Unsolved legal reasons” cause retraction of two biophysics papers

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eur biophys jEvery now and then, we see retraction notices that refer vaguely to legal issues. Sometimes, we can dig up the actual reason. But the European Biophysics Journal has two retractions that leave us completely in the dark.

The two notices basically say the same thing. Here’s one: Read the rest of this entry »

Protein structure retracted after investigation into “highly improbable features,” journal calls it fraud

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In 2010, a group of crystallographers immunologists and allergy researchers at the University of Salzburg published a paper in the Journal of Immunology claiming to have derived the structure of a birch pollen allergen.

That structure, however, caught the attention of Bernhard Rupp, an eminent crystallographer. In January of this year, Rupp submitted a paper to Acta Crystallographica Section F pointing out problems with it, which prompted the editors of the crystallography journal to contact the authors of the original paper a month later. Those authors, it turns out, agreed with Rupp, they write in a response to his paper published in the April 2012 issue of Acta Crystallographica Section F: Read the rest of this entry »

PNAS retraction marks second for crystallography group

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Two crystallographers who retracted a Structure paper last year have retracted a study about a similar subject in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for similar reasons.

Here’s the notice for the paper, which has been cited 23 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 26th, 2012 at 9:30 am