We have a fourth retraction in the Journal of Biochemistry for Naohito Aoki, a Japanese researcher and former postdoc in a German lab, whose images have been called into question but whose retraction notices were scant. In this case, however, the journal, while not exactly overbrimming with information about the article, at least gives us some sense of what’s going on.
Aoki worked in the lab of Axel Ullrich, of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, and appeared on two retracted articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) with his mentor, along with a third with a co-author from Japan, Tsukasa Matsuda. Although those notices don’t say anything about the reason for the retractions — this was before the JBC started providing such information — Ulrich told us that Aoki had been manipulating images.
And that’s what appears to be the case with the newly retracted paper, originally published in 1999 and titled “Down-regulation of protein tyrosine phosphatase gene expression in lactating mouse mammary gland.”
According to the notice:
This article has been retracted by the journal, because it has been brought to our attention that there are problems in Figures 1A, 2A, 3, and 4A in this paper. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience this causes to readers of the journal.
The paper has been cited six times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, including four times by Aoki.