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Evolution caught in the act

By | January 8, 2001

Duplication, deletion and mutation have created a new gene, denoted Sdic, that encodes a fly sperm axoneme protein. Sdic is present in the fly Drosophila melanogaster, but not in its close relative Drosophila simulans. In the 5 January Science, Nurminsky et al. find evidence for a selective sweep around Sdic in D. melanogaster (Science 2001, 291:128-130). D. melanogaster DNA has a significant depression in the level of synonymous polymorphism around Sdic, and an increase in the occurrence of rar

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Loopy expression

By | January 8, 2001

Yeast is unusual in that its transcriptional activators cannot work over long distances. But in the 4 January Nature, de Bruin et al. report that the looping of heterochromatic-like telomere regions corrects this shortcoming (Nature 2001, 409:109-113). They place a binding site for the activator Gal4 downstream of a reporter gene. The site is inactive when the reporter is at an internal chromosomal locus, but active when the gene cassette is placed, in either orientation, near the telomere. Only

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Shocking phosphorylation of histones

By | January 8, 2001

Histone modifications are required to gain access to DNA sequences within the tightly compacted genome and enable gene transcription. It has been proposed that acetylation of the amino-terminal tails of the core histones within the nucleosome particle is critical for activating transcription. In the December Genes and Development, Nowak and Corces suggest that histone phosphorylation may play a greater role than acetylation in gene induction (Genes Dev 2000, 14:3003-3013). They studied the he

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SNPs by SPR

By | January 8, 2001

Approximately 1.6 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been identified and deposited in public databases, but more are always needed for studies of other species and identification of mutations in candidate disease genes. In the January Nature Biotechnology, Nakatani et al. outline a new method for SNP identification using capture by a mismatch-specific ligand followed by surface plasmon resonance (SPR; Nat Biotechnol 2001, 19:51-55). The ligand, a dimeric naphthyridine, intercala

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The ins and outs of data

By | January 8, 2001

Germany's Max Planck Society is setting up a Centre for Information Management that aims to give its researchers greater power over the way their work is published.

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Cycling surprises

By | January 5, 2001

Array analysis of dividing cells has been tackled for yeast, but in the January Nature Genetics Cho et al. present the first large-scale analysis in human cells (Nat Genet 2001, 27:48-54). They identify 731 of 40,000 human genes and expressed sequence tags (ESTs) as being cell cycle regulated in primary fibroblasts, and use a functional classification system to identify coordinate regulation of pathways. Notable surprises include upregulation of motility-related genes in G2 (perhaps to prepare d

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over 55 years of age in the developed world. AMD affects about 11 million Americans, 5 million of whom have become legally blind because of it. Stargardt's macular degeneration (STGD3) is an early-onset form of AMD that affects about 30,000 children and young adults in the United States. Researchers reported in this week's Nature Genetics that they have identified a gene linked to AMD and predicted the discov

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Have the will, have the data

By | January 5, 2001

Referees on strike, and a new "template" for academic electronic publishing; sound familiar? This time it's economists on the warpath, and they have figures to shoot with.

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New therapeutic signals in asthma

By | January 5, 2001

Blocking IL-5 or adding IL-12 can lower the number of eosinophils in mild asthma but has no effect on hyper-responsiveness.

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The sexually transmitted disease chlamydia has been strongly linked to cervical cancer in a study carried out by scientists in Finland. Chlamydia trachomatis accounted for 24,311 new infections in men and 32,544 in women in 1999. However, because most cases show no symptoms, the actual number could be 90% greater. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that women infected with the chlamydia strain serotype G were nearly seven times more likely to develop c

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