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In this issue:
Don't Miss the Holiday Party
Science Today: The Structural Basis of Transcription
Last Day for Giving

SLAC Today

Thursday - December 14, 2006

Holiday party 2005
(Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

Don't Miss the Holiday Party

Today at 11:30 a.m., people all around the lab will put down their tools, power down their instruments, log off their computers and head to the Panofsky Auditorium breezeway to celebrate the holidays.

This year's holiday party, the Red & White Holiday Bash, offers a buffet catered by the Linear Cafe, a screening of the movie Over the Hedge, live music by the Leonard Webb Quartet and a raffle for prizes including a weekend at the Guest House and lunch with Jonathan Dorfan.

The buffet runs from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. in the cafeteria, with three entree choices: roasted turkey breast with cranberry sauce, sliced ham with pineapple sauce, and stuffed acorn squash. At 11:30 a.m. the movie Over the Hedge will begin in Panofsky Auditorium, and at 1:00 p.m. a drawing will take place on a stage just outside the Breezeway. Raffle tickets will be distributed in the lunch lines and you must be present to win, unless you work on owl or swing shift.

More information is available at the holiday party webpage.  Hope to see you there!

(Daily Column - Science Today)

The Structural Basis
of Transcription

Life as we know it depends on turning on and off the proper genes at the correct time. This process of gene expression starts when an RNA message is copied from DNA. Scientists have long known that an enzyme called RNA polymerase II plays the central role in this delicate transcription process. But the exact mechanism by which RNA polymerase II selects specific nucleotides and catalyzes the reaction that incorporates them into a growing RNA strand has not been well understood.

In a new study published in the December 1, 2006 issue of Cell, researchers performed x-ray studies at SSRL Beamlines 11-1 and 9-2 and the Advanced Light Source at Berkeley to investigate the molecular structure of this enzyme in action. The studies revealed that a structural element of the enzyme, called the trigger loop, is involved in both nucleotide recognition and catalysis.

To ensure the accuracy of the transcription process, RNA polymerase II must distinguish between ribonucleotides (nucleotides that make up RNA) and deoxyribonucleotides (nucleotides that make up DNA) in the cell.  Read more...

Last Day for Giving

For the past two weeks, barrels and boxes scattered across the lab have slowly filled with canned food, warm coats and blankets. Tomorrow is the last day to add your contribution to the 2006 Second Harvest Food Drive and the SLAC Blanket & Coat Drive.

The Second Harvest campaign provides food for people in need from Gilroy to South San Francisco and from the coast to the bay. Last year 30 million pounds of food were distributed to needy families with children, senior citizens and over 750 partner agencies and distribution sites. Look for notices on barrels or bags throughout the SLAC site to see what foods are most needed.

Our coats and blankets will once again be picked up by a local mission that takes them to the streets of San Jose and distributes them via a local shelter to the needy and homeless. With this drive, items are given directly to the people who need them most.

A list of food barrel and blanket box locations is available at the giving campaign website.

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