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Watch out for the neighbors

By | October 10, 2000

Radiation induces DNA breaks, leading to chromosomal rearrangements. But do the breaks come first, followed by a wandering through the nucleus to find a suitable partner for the free DNA end? Or is the partner already nearby at the time of the break? In the 6 October Science, Nikiforova et al. provide evidence for the latter theory (Science 2000, 290:138-141). They look at papillary thyroid cancer, in which a radiation-induced inversion often fuses the genes for H4 and the RET receptor tyrosine

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Slow synaptic transmission grabs the Nobel for Physiology or Medicine.

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Cambridge chemist to be new UK chief scientist

By | October 9, 2000

David King, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, is the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government.

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Going from gene sequence to protein function presents a great challenge to genome biology. In the September 15 EMBO Reports, Simpson et al. suggest that the systematic identification of subcellular localization can significantly enhance our ability to assign functions to unknown ORFs (EMBO Reports 2000, 1:287-292). Simpson et al. outline a strategy for such an approach. They adapted the Gateway cloning system to allow rapid, directional cloning of ORFs by recombination, and generate amino- and c

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Magnetic susceptibility

By | October 6, 2000

The state of the art in spectrometry - an ultra-highfield wide-bore NMR machine - will soon allow scientists to take a close look at thousands of membrane proteins with unprecedented resolution

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Prion-driven evolution

By | October 6, 2000

The yeast protein Sup35 is essential for translation termination, but its prion [PSI+] form reduces the fidelity of the termination process. Conversion of Sup35 into the prion form could therefore alter the sequence of multiple proteins at the same time, perhaps providing an engine for evolutionary change. In the 28 September Nature, True and Lindquist find that in nearly half of a long list of culture conditions tested, the presence of [PSI+] exerted a substantial effect on strain growth (Natur

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Sex, frogs and rocking loos at the Ig Nobels

By | October 6, 2000

Collapsing toilets, levitating frogs, and acrobats making love in a magnetic resonance imager: Now who says scientists take themselves too seriously?

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SNPing away

By | October 6, 2000

In the 28 September Nature Altshuler et al. (Nature 2000, 407:513-516) and Mullikin et al. (Nature 2000, 407:516-520) report on the discovery of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These human sequence variants, in which two alternate bases occur at one position, are present at a frequency of up to one per kilobase. A dense map of SNPs would allow certain variants to be associated with disease states. Previous efforts to uncover SNPs have struggled with the effort involved in am

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Comparing cows with humans

By | October 5, 2000

Comparative genomics is emerging as a powerful approach for assessing the similarities and differences between species. In the September Genome Research Band et al. compare cows and humans to generate mapping information about the bovine genome (Genome Res 2000, 10:1359-1368). The authors combined parallel radiation hybrid (RH) mapping analysis with express sequence tag (EST) sequence information and a bioinformatic methodology called COMPASS (comparative mapping by annotation and sequence simil

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A recent study shows that homocysteine levels reflect the extent of myocardial damage in acute ischemia.

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