Research group forced to withdraw one biochemistry paper and correct another because of doctored and incorrectly labelled images

The manipulation of multiple images has caused a research group at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain to retract one research paper and correct another in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, according to the scientific integrity blog Retraction Watch. It turns out that the same images were used to represent the results of different experimental conditions, and the background was inappropriately adjusted in the tubulin panel on one figure in the now-withdrawn paper.

‘In spite of the unacceptable image manipulation, the basic experimental facts published are reproducible supporting the message and conclusions of the paper,’ last author José Castaño told Retraction Watch. He said the research paper in question sends ‘a clear message to the scientific community’ about the importance of checking the mRNA levels of a protein being studied before drawing any conclusions about the effects of proteasome inhibitors on the protein levels.

Besides the one paper being withdrawn over these image manipulation concerns, the same research team also issued a correction notice for another of its published studies that dealt with α-Synuclein expression levels. In that case, the data shown in two particular figures were incorrect. The lower α-tubulin blot images in the first figure were reused in the third figure and were incorrectly labelled. In addition, the last four bands in the panel of that third figure were reused elsewhere in the paper. The authors corrected the figures, but said the revisions ‘do not change the interpretation of the results or the conclusions’ of the research paper.