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Genes reveal clue to meningitis B

By | November 1, 2000

to cause meningitis have been mapped.

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Small-scale trials of a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis are giving encouraging results, announced a team from University College London at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology this week. The announcement sparked intense media interest, prompting rheumatologists to warn that the treatment is only in its infancy and should not be considered a 'cure'.The treatment involves the use of the drug rituximab, which attaches to a protein on the surface of B cells and suppresse

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Becoming a worm

By | October 31, 2000

Sequencing of the worm genome has allowed Hill et al. to design oligonucleotide arrays representing 18,791 (98%) of the predicted worm open reading frames (ORFs). In the 27 October Science, they report the use of these arrays to analyze transcripts from six developmentally staged worm populations from eggs to adults (Science 2000, 290:809-812). Only 56% of the ORFs are detected at least once, suggesting that others are missed because they are expressed at very low levels in specific tissues or u

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Air travel is not associated with increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, say the authors of a study published shortly after a young British woman died from DVT following a long-haul flight.

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Fine-mapping of fearfulness

By | October 31, 2000

Geneticists cut their teeth on conditions controlled by single loci. The harder task is to find the many loci that work together to control a single trait. In the 7 November Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mott et al. demonstrate a new method for mapping these quantitative trait loci (QTL; Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, published online before print). Previous methods all have their limits: family-based studies tend to be small and so can only do coarse mapping; population-based as

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Flower power

By | October 31, 2000

The timing of flowering in plants is affected by a wide range of hormonal, environmental and genetic factors. The semidominant fwa mutants are delayed in the transition to flowering. In the October Molecular Cell, Soppe et al. use positional cloning to isolate the Arabidopsis FWA gene, which encodes a homeodomain-containing protein (Molecular Cell 2000, 6:791-802). The late-flowering phenotype of the fwa mutants is caused by gain-of-function epi-alleles. Soppe et al. could find no differences

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The identification of a gene associated with immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) has, for the first time, raised the possibility that the kidney disease may be an inherited disorder. It is hoped that the study, reported in November Nature Genetics, could open the way for new treatments to prevent kidney failure.Dr Richard P Lifton and colleagues from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute analysed 30 families in Italy and the US. They found a strong association between IgAN and a gene on chromosome

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Malaria's dangerous neighborhood

By | October 31, 2000

The var genes of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum encode the major variable parasite protein and are expressed in a mutually exclusive manner at the surface of an infected red blood cell. In the 26 October Nature, Freitas-Junior et al. report that Plasmodium uses nuclear architecture in a pathogen survival strategy (Nature 2000, 407:1018-1022). The sub-telomeric regions that contain the var genes are clustered together at the nuclear periphery, apparently allowing recombination at freq

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A lentiviral vector that carries a neurotrophic factor into the brain seems to reverse symptoms of Parkinson's disease in monkeys, raising hopes that it could also be effective in humans.

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Replication coupled to recombination

By | October 31, 2000

Blocking meiotic DNA replication in budding yeast prevents recombination initiation. This could indicate a direct coupling of the two processes, or the presence of a checkpoint system that detects incomplete replication and shuts down the formation of double-strand breaks (DSBs). In the 27 October Science, Borde et al. report that budding yeast cells defective for the replication checkpoint can progress through meiosis I in the absence of replication, but DSBs are still not formed (Science 2000,

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