The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) has retracted four studies done in a Mount Sinai School of Medicine lab whose principal investigator died last month. The studies, by the late Maria Diverse-Pierluissi and colleagues, were as follows:
- N-type Ca2+ channels as scaffold proteins in the assembly of signaling molecules for GABA-B receptor effects (cited 9 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge)
- Arrestin is required for agonist-induced trafficking of voltage-dependent calcium channels (cited 15 times)
- G protein-induced trafficking of voltage-dependent calcium channels (cited 34 times)
- B-Adrenergic receptor activation induces internalization of cardiac Cav1.2 channel complexes through a B-arrestin 1-mediated pathway (cited 8 times)
According to a Mount Sinai release, Diverse-Pierluissi died on May 7 of this year. The retractions are dated June 17, and all say the same thing:
This article has been retracted by the Publisher.
That opacity is unfortunately par for the course at the JBC, which has never responded meaningfully to our requests about any of the retractions we’ve found in its pages, including four by Silvia Bulfone-Paus. At most, we are told to contact the authors or institutions for more information. It would obviously be impossible to contact Diverse-Pierluissi, who is the corresponding author of all four papers. And the retracted studies are the last entries in Medline for at least three of the first authors, suggesting they have left science, and making them difficult to track down.
We tried contacting Mount Sinai and the journal earlier in the week, and will update with anything we hear back. [Please see important update at the end of this post.] Two weeks after the retractions were posted, neither the original papers, nor their Medline abstracts, mention the withdrawals, so there’s no way for scientists who come across the studies to know they should disregard the findings.
A Retraction Watch reader who works in the same field as Diverse-Pierluissi but wishes to remain anonymous notes:
There are clearly problems with these papers in terms of the traces and the Western blot images which doesn’t take much inspection to figure out. For example, the Fig 6e and f (especially the top trace) of Puckerin (2006) are the same as 5f in Tombler (2006). And the Western blot in Fig. 3A and 3C are the same in Richman (2004).
Update, 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 7/1/11: Mount Sinai has just sent us the following statement. Apparently, there was an investigation into these studies that found evidence of misconduct:
An internal Mount Sinai investigation found that Dr. Maria Diverse-Pierluissi committed research misconduct in four publications on which she was the senior author. Mount Sinai then requested that the Journal retract these four articles. No other co-authors were involved in any way in the research misconduct investigation and no negative implication about the co-authors should be drawn from these retractions. This matter has been referred to the Office for Research Integrity at NIH for their internal review.