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Europe had ten Adams

By | November 16, 2000

In the 10 November Science Semino et al. use haplotypes from the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY) of 1007 individuals to determine that ten lineages can account for 95% of European Y chromosomes (Science 2000, 290:1151-1155). Based on the geographic distribution of the haplotypes, and their age (estimated using the variation of associated microsatellites), Semino et al. identify two major haplotypes as belonging to Paleolithic peoples who migrated from the Iberian peninsula and

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The ESTs from Brazil

By | November 16, 2000

Guesses about the number of genes in the human genome vary wildly and may continue to do so even when the entire genome sequence is available. Computational methods for picking out exons that are scattered amongst vast introns yield both false positives and false negatives. This has prompted a Brazilian sequencing group to generate a quarter of a million open reading frame (ORF) expressed sequence tags (ORESTES), as they report in the November 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (P

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Batting for both teams

November 15, 2000

A gene has been identified that could predict the susceptibility of an individual to contracting HIV or developing AIDS, a report in the Journal of AIDS reveals. Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases discovered the gene, called RANTES. Variations in the gene means it works in two ways: while it could double a person's susceptibility to contracting HIV, it also delays the length of time for progression to AIDS in HIV infected people by about 40%. Dr Philip Murphy

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Modifying genetic research

By | November 15, 2000

GM food has provoked much protest but GM medicine has more public approval: the difference lies in approaches to research.

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Many drugs effective against tropical diseases are no longer available or in danger of being pulled from the market because they are unprofitable.

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genome

By | November 10, 2000

The elimination of specific DNA elements is a common feature in the formation of a transcriptionally active macronucleus during the sexual reproduction of ciliated protozoa. The micronuclear DNA of Paramecium tetraurelia contains some 50,000 internal eliminated sequences (IES), each of which is flanked by TA dinucleotide repeats and inverted sequences. In the November Molecular and Cellular Biology Ku et al. describe an in vivo method to analyse IES excision (Mol Cell Biol 2000, 20:8390-8396). T

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Identifying the Black Death

By | November 10, 2000

In just four years in the mid-fourteenth century, the medieval pandemic of 'Black Death' killed 17-28 million Europeans, or 30-40% of the total population. Further resurgences later in the century eliminated 90% of the households around Montpellier in southern France. It is in this region that Raoult et al. went searching for the causative agent of the Black Death. Although this agent has been presumed to be Yersinia pestis, the pattern of the disease's spread has led others to suggest alternati

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Metabolite profiling

By | November 9, 2000

In the November Nature Biotechnology Fiehn et al. offer an alternative to the profiling of messenger RNA and protein levels. They use gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to assay the relative levels of 326 small compounds from a plant leaf extract (Nat Biotech 2000, 18:1157-1161). A simple methanol extraction is followed by derivitization to increase metabolite stability and volatility. Approximately half of the chromatographed compounds can be identified based on retention t

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Reeling in DNA

By | November 9, 2000

The Bacillus subtilis SpoIIIE protein is required for DNA segregation during the asymmetric cell division that produces a mother cell and a pre-spore. In the 3 November Science, Bath et al. confirm that SpoIIIE is targeted to the leading edge of the septum that divides the two cells, and suggest that the protein pumps DNA into the pre-spore by tracking along DNA (Science 2000, 290:995-997). They find that SpoIIIE is a DNA-dependent ATPase that can introduce unconstrained supercoils into a DNA su

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Ritalin gets vote of approval in the UK

By | November 9, 2000

A new UK directive supports use of the controversial drug Ritalin in severe Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but only under specialist supervision.

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