This article has been withdrawn by the authors.
In the paper entitled “Isd11p protein activates the mitochondrial cysteine desulfurase Nfs1p protein,” Debkumar Pain, associate professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and associates found two proteins that were inactive on their own, but when bound together acted like scissors to snip of sulfur atoms from the amino acid cysteine.
Pain and company retracted the paper, and when contacted by Retraction Watch, he added to the mystery:
The original data as published in the JBC paper are correct, and the conclusions are valid and fully supported by those original data. There was no falsification of any data. To respond to your queries point by point, I must obtain permission from the Research Administration here.
So, according to the senior author, the paper has valid results and conclusions, yet the publication got yanked.
We also asked the journal the story behind the retraction, and we got this message emailed from Nancy Rodnan, director of publications at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes the JBC:
I understand you have contacted ASBMB staff regarding a retraction posted in JBC requesting information. As I have stated several times before, to Retraction Watch, this information is confidential. My suggestion would be to contact the corresponding author which you have done, and wait for a report from the author when he has permission from his institution.
We obviously disagree about whether the reason for a retraction is confidential. So does the Committee on Publication Ethics, which recommends that retraction notices should
state the reason(s) for retraction (to distinguish misconduct from honest error)
Two weeks after our initial request, Pain, who seems to be willing to talk to us, hasn’t gotten the green light from his research institute.
I must follow the University policy and I will get back to you when I get the green light. At this time, I have no idea how long it might take. Thanks for your understanding.
Given that UMDNJ is a public institution, we’ll file a FOIA request if need be, but we hope that won’t be necessary. We also hope the university isn’t stonewalling just to keep us from writing about this retraction.
We’ll keep you posted on what we find out.