Archive for the ‘crystallography retractions’ Category
If 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 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:
A 2011 paper about the crystal structure of a transcription regulator has been pulled by Molecules and Cells for “unethical behavior by the authors.”
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 »
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 »
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.
Every 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.
Protein structure retracted after investigation into “highly improbable features,” journal calls it fraud
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 »