Cell biologists in South Korea retract two papers

jbcA group of researchers at two universities in South Korea have retracted two cell biology papers featuring retinoic acid.

The most recent retraction appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Although, in typical JBC fashion, the reason for it is anyone’s guess.

Here’s the unhelpful notice for “ASXL1 represses retinoic acid receptor-mediated transcription through associating with HP1 and LSD1:”

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

Although the journal offers no explanation for the retraction, some comments on PubPeer suggest problems with the figures. One commenter who claims to be the corresponding author acknowledged the errors and reportedly passed them onto the journal. The paper has been cited 66 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction was preceded by another from the group, of “Histone H2B Ubquitination Regulates Retinoic Acid Signaling through the Cooperation of ASXL1 and BAP1” from Molecular Cell in 2013. According to the notice, this 2013 paper was felled by “several manipulations” of Western blot data:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

Soon after online publication of our paper we became aware of several manipulations of our Western blot data. In light of this, we are retracting the paper. We will continue to examine whether the central findings of the paper still stand; if they do, we will communicate them again in the future. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience that we may have caused.

The paper, which was published just a month before being retracted, has been cited three times.

We’ve asked Eu-Joo Kim and Soo-Jong Um, the corresponding authors of the JBC paper for more details, and will update with anything we learn.

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3 thoughts on “Cell biologists in South Korea retract two papers”

  1. Given that RW has been quite laudatory of JBC’s efforts in the past, including (with 20/20 hindsight) what I would refer to as a “puff piece” a couple of years ago on their appointing an ethics officer, are you willing to rethink your position? The fact is, over the past few months the number of opaque notices from JBC far outnumbers the transparent ones. An editorial along the lines of “What happened at JBC?” would be a timely addition to the field. It’s certainly disappointing to see so much promise for change literally poured down the drain by a return to the old practices of keeping things hushed up.

  2. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Nov 3;362(4):1044-50. Epub 2007 Aug 30.
    Transcriptional regulation of the p73 gene, a member of the p53 family, by early growth response-1 (Egr-1).
    Lee SW1, Kim EJ, Um SJ.
    Author information
    1Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Institute of Bioscience, Sejong University, 98 Kunja-dong, Kwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-747, Republic of Korea.

    Please see:


  3. J Biol Chem. 2006 Jun 30;281(26):17588-98. Epub 2006 Apr 10.
    Additional sex comb-like 1 (ASXL1), in cooperation with SRC-1, acts as a ligand-dependent coactivator for retinoic acid receptor.
    Cho YS1, Kim EJ, Park UH, Sin HS, Um SJ.
    Author information
    1Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Institute of Bioscience, Sejong University, 98 Kunja-dong, Kwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-747, Korea.

    Please see: https://pubpeer.com/publications/16606617

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