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Defining functional redundancy in mycobacteria. Finding aqueous pores in sodium channels. Identifying new substrates for a ubiquitin ligase. Read about papers on these topics recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Functional redundancy in mycobacteria

The tricarboxylic acid, or TCA, cycle is essential to carbon metabolism. Malate oxidation, a critical step of this cycle, is catalyzed by malate dehydrogenase or malate quinone oxidoreductase. These enzymes, Mdh and Mqo, respectively, tend to co-occur in a single bacterium, and one of them is usually primarily respons
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ible for malate oxidation. Although these proteins are present in most bacteria, the level of functional redundancy remains unclear.


A scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria,
which causes TB.

In a recent article in the Journal of Biological ChemistryLiam Harold and collaborators from the University of Otago in New Zealand describe performing a bioinformatic survey of thousands of bacterial proteomes that revealed that Mqo was not as widespread as Mdh in bacteria and that it was highly conserved in mycobacteria.

The authors deleted mqo from Mycobacterium smegmatis, an environmental saprophyte — that is, it feeds on decaying matter — that lacks Mdh in its genome and found that Mqo is essential for growth on nonfermentable carbon sources. The authors also determined that mqo mutants grew more slowly on fermentable carbon sources. Complementation experiments with a heterologous Mdh from Mycobacterium tuberculosis shortened the delayed growth on fermentable carbon sources and restored growth on nonfermentable carbon sources at a reduced growth rate.

The authors conclude that Mdh is maintained in slow-growing mycobacterial pathogens for use under conditions such as hypoxia that require reductive TCA cycle activity.

Finding aqueous pores in sodium channels

Epithelial Na+ channels, or ENaCs, belong to the (ENaC)/degenerin family, and their extracellular domains interact with other factors that regulate channel gating. These channels influence such functions as blood pressure and vascular smooth muscle and are composed of three subunits: alpha, beta and gamma.

Several studies have identified specific amino acid residues and extracellular domain structures that regulate ENaC gating; however, researchers do not yet understand the transitions that happen at a structural level. In a recent Journal of Biologica
A new report detailing the cost of mobile data in different markets across the world, bears the evidence of why internet use in most of Africa remains low despite the growing broadband internet coverage.

The Worldwide Mobile Pricing 2022 report, which surveyed 233 countries, shows that five of the 10 most expensive countries to buy mobile data in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mobile data is so costly in these countries that 1GB costs at least $10, which is 250 times more expensive than Israel, the country said to have the world's cheapest data.

In Sao Tome and Principe 1GB of
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data costs $29, while in Botswana it costs $16. Togo ($13), Seychelles ($13) and Namibia ($11) are the other African countries with the most expensive data packages — preventing economic growth and job creation.

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at price comparison site Cable.co.uk, said in a statement: “At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn't great but also where consumption is very small. ”

“People are often buying data packages of just ten megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy,” he said.

In Africa, internet is cheapest in Ghana at $0.61, followed by Somalia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eswatini, Kenya and Mauritius — where 1GB of mobile data costs less than a dollar. Evidently, affordable internet could explain the booming digital economies of these countries, hence their attractiveness to venture capitalists and tech investors.

Notably, the cost of mobile data declined significantly this year compared to the last one in Malawi ($26 to $2), Chad ($23 to $2), and Equatorial Guinea ($50 to $10) – taking them off the list of countries with the most expensive mobile data.

Why affordable internet is necessary in Africa

Over the last eight years, the number of the number of people connected to the internet in Africa doubled to 28% — owing to increased broadband internet coverage and smartphone penetration. However, over half a billion (53%) people in regions with mobile broadband networks remain unconnected due to the high cost of data, according to the 2021 state of mobile internet in Africa report by GSMA, an umbrella organization representing mobile operators globally.

But this is likely to change as tech titans like Google and Meta invest heavily in infrastructure to bring what they say will be cheap and fast
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The writer is chief investment officer at Bank of Singapore
Like it or not, China is different. The populous nation resides in an alternate universe where Covid-19 restrictions prevail and economic activity strains at the gates for gradual reopening.
But while global equity markets are suffering their worst first half-year start since 1970, Chinese stocks may be the one major market to offer uncorrelated positive returns in the second half of 2022.
Since mid-2021, Chinese markets have borne the brunt of selling well before the global bear market malaise in the first half of 2022. China has su
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ffered four quarters of sliding or relatively weak growth, souring market sentiment in both equities and bonds.
On top of China's stringent zero-Covid lockdown, the broad swath of woes have included credit growth constraints, supply chain tightness, semiconductor shortages and adverse regulatory scrutiny across industries such as property, technology, education and gaming. There have also been uncertainties surrounding the regulations for US-listed China American Depositary Receipts, instruments that offer US investors exposure to foreign stocks.
Over the past few months, the outlook has begun to brighten. Significantly, April's Politburo meeting marked a change of tone from officials and the start of supportive policies. The benchmark five-year loan prime rate was cut. Some 33 comprehensive stimulus measures were announced by the State Council.
Regulators have also clarified their stance for tech platform companies and gaming approvals. President Xi Jinping reiterated commitment to the official 5.5 per cent GDP growth target for 2022 last month, and, importantly, the quarantine period for inbound travelers has been halved as the authorities begin to loosen its zero-Covid stance.
The green shoots of recovery are apparent in June's data releases. The Caixin composite purchasing manager Index jumped from more than 13 points to 55.3 points, implying activity is expanding firmly again as lockdowns ease.
Unlike global peers, inflation woes are not top of mind in China. Officials face benign 2.5 per cent inflation, food and energy resilience, a current account surplus and ample room for fiscal and monetary stimulus to meet this year's official GDP target.
The People's Bank of China stands out as the only central bank under no pressure to hike interest rates to curb inflation. Its capital controls also keep the renminbi stable despite the strength of the do
Developing a language to describe climate change needs both the sciences and the humanities

Developing a language to describe climate change needs both the sciences and the humanities

We most easily understand the passage of time measured in days, months and years, the units with which we routinely calibrate our lives. But the span of the cosmos is incomprehensibly greater. The “Cosmic Calendar” is a useful way of thinking about time. It imagines the span of the universe's existence as though it lasted a single year. The Big Bang, with which the universe began about
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13.6 billion years ago, happens on January 1. The cosmic calendar year ends on December 31, at midnight, coinciding with our current time.
When compressed into a single year, all human endeavor is confined to the last few seconds before midnight on December 31. Indeed, modern humans appear just eight minutes before midnight and the Indus Valley civilization just 12 seconds before that day ends. In the river of time, humanity leaves the barest ripple.
Despite its evanescence on a cosmic scale, the human race now has the power to irreversibly alter the course of life on earth. The impact of human activity on the planet's climate is clear enough that one cannot think of the future of the biosphere without accounting for it. Humanity now determines the trajectory of planetary life and the speed at which it changes. Our present, the Anthropocene or Human Age, is a fusion of historical and geological eras, when our species dominates all others.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the apex international body that tracks climate change, projects increasingly gloomy scenarios for what might happen as levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase. Their reports anticipate more and more events of extreme weather and dramatic temperature fluctuations, leading to a precipitous reduction of biodiversity, and permanent habitat loss for many species.
Every other sort of historical circumstance, no matter how catastrophic, pales before these scenarios. Sadly, even if the emissions that result from burning fossil fuels could miraculously be reduced to zero, that would be insufficient to reverse these ominous trends for the next several decades.

Mirrored in art

The experience of the Anthropocene is reflected in art. In tandem with the Venice Biennale this year is an exhibition of a set of brooding works by the German artist Anselm Kiefer, displayed in the m
Changpeng Zhao does not like ambiguous words. Which is just as well: the crypto industry, in which he is a leading figure, is in turmoil and crying out for clarity.
The 45-year-old founder and chief executive of Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, meets the Observer in an upmarket London hotel after one of the most tumultuous weeks in the short history of digital money.
Binance was forced to suspend its bitcoin business on 13 June for a few hours. On the same day, a major crypto lender, Celsius, also paused withdrawals. Then a big crypto hedge fund admitted it was in
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trouble. Finally, last Saturday, in a symbolic moment, bitcoin fell below $20,000. The cornerstone of crypto has lost more than half its value this year, leaving both professional and amateur investors nursing steep losses.
Often referred to by the nickname CZ (see-zee), Zhao is dressed in the classic tech-tycoon mix of formal dark suit with a company T-shirt and trainers. He says he is traveling from country to country at the moment, meeting with “different government officials, regulators”.
Despite his softly spoken manner, he is on a mission to convince. The conversation gets hooked on semantics at times – perhaps a response to the level of scrutiny he and his business are under. Asked if he still considers the recent crypto market moves to be “normal”, as he described them this month, Zhao says: “Normal depends on how you look at it … everybody has a different definition of normal … fluctuations in price is normal. ”
There is a similar focus on meaning when Zhao is asked about money laundering – “the word is very different in different countries” – although he says Binance can “for sure” do a “good enough job that the regulators are happy”.
Last June, the Financial Conduct Authority ordered Binance to stop all regulated activities in Britain, saying it was “not capable of being effectively supervised”. Zhao has not given up, however, and says he is seeking a license to operate.
Last week, Bloomberg ran an interview with him that raised the prospect of a deep regulatory winter for his business. He responded by tweeting to his 6.5 million followers: “I will stop doing interviews with news outlets that do clickbait titles.”
He clearly has a deep interest in media. Binance has announced plans for a $200m (£160m) investment in Forbes, the business publisher, as well as investing $500m in Elon Musk's $44bn bid for Twitter
On May 30, Meta, Google and Twitter released their 2021 annual transparency reports, documenting their efforts to curb misinformation in Australia.

Despite their name, however, the reports offer a narrow view of the companies' strategies to combat misinformation. They remain vague on the reasoning behind the strategies and how they are implemented. They therefore highlight the need for effective legislation to regulate Australia's digital information ecosystem.

The transparency reports are published as part of the Digital Industry (DIGI) Group's voluntary code of practice
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that Meta, Google and Twitter signed onto in 2021 (along with Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Redbubble and TikTok).

The DIGI group and its code of practice were created after the Australian government's request in 2019 that major digital platforms do more to address disinformation and content quality concerns.

What do the transparency reports say?

In Meta's latest report, the company claims to have removed 180,000 pieces of content from Australian Facebook and Instagram pages or accounts for spreading health misinformation during 2021.

It also outlines several new products, such as Facebook's Climate Science Information Centre, aimed at providing “Australians with authoritative information on climate change”. Meta describes initiatives including the funding of a national media literacy survey, and a commitment to fund training for Australian journalists on identifying misinformation.

Similarly, Twitter's report details various policies it implements to identify false information and moderate its spread. These include:

alerting users when they engage with misleading tweets
directing users to authoritative information when they search for certain key words or hashtags, and
punitive measures such as tweet deletion, account locks and permanent suspension for violating company policies.

In the first half of 2021, Twitter suspended 7,851 Australian accounts and removed 51,394 posts from Australian accounts.

Google's highlights that in 2021 it removed more than 90,000 YouTube videos from Australian IP addresses, including more than 5,000 videos with COVID-19 misinformation.

Google's report further notes that more than 657,000 creatives were blocked from Australia-based advertisers, for violating the company's “misrepresentation ads policies (misleading, clickbait, unacceptable business practices, etc)”.

Google's Senior Manager for Government Affairs and P
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Tiger Global, the hedge fund known for making big bets on technology companies, has slashed its shareholdings and dumped stakes in companies including Netflix and Rivian as it suffered heavy losses during this year's stock market rout.
The total value of Tiger Global's public stock positions fell from $46bn at the end of last year to just over $26bn at the end of the first quarter, according to
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regulatory filings released on Monday. The decline in value reflected lower stock market valuations as well as share sales.
In a significant retreat, the New York-based firm sold its entire stake in consumer tech companies including dating app Bumble, vacation rental company Airbnb and Didi, the Chinese ride-hailing group.
Its sell-off came as research analysts at JPMorgan Chase endorsed a clutch of Chinese internet stocks deemed “uninvestable” just two months ago, in a significant shift in sentiment towards the sector. In a series of changes on Monday, analysts upgraded their ratings for NetEase, Tencent, Alibaba, Meituan, iQIYI, Dingdong and Pinduoduo.
Tiger Global also significantly reduced its exposure to trading app Robinhood, selling almost 80 per cent of its stake, and Peloton, the beleaguered connected fitness company. Tiger Global declined to comment.
Go deeper: A sudden sobriety has descended over the US tech sector, prompted by a deep and broad stock sell-off as investors fret over rising interest rates and slowing economic growth.
Do you have feedback on today's newsletter? Email me at firstft@ft.com. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa — George
Five more stories in the news
1. Investors pull $7bn from Tether as stablecoin jitters intensify Traders have yanked $7bn from Tether, cutting its market value about 9 per cent since the world's biggest stablecoin last week briefly lost its peg against the US dollar, intensifying concerns about the assets that underpin the global cryptocurrency market.
More on crypto: Just weeks after Treasury Minister John Glen made an unexpected pitch for the UK to be a global crypto hub, digital currency markets have experienced a disorderly collapse, Helen Thomas writes.
2. Companies back 2035 EU petrol ban A cross-sector coalition of companies, including Unilever, Zurich, Sanofi and Uber, have urged the EU to