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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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in vitro

By | October 5, 2000

Cloning works because even highly differentiated somatic nuclei can de-differentiate and reacquire their ability to form all the cells of the body. The de-differentiation process is driven by egg cytoplasm, and in the 29 September Science Kikyo et al. report that the chromatin remodeling protein ISW1 is probably one component of the de-differentiation machinery (Science 2000, 289:2360-2362). Kikyo et al. identify a number of proteins that are released from permeabilized frog somatic nuclei only

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UNAIDS defends South Africa's work on HIV/AIDS

By | October 5, 2000

Mutual suspicion and hostility in South Africa is dogging strong, practical interventions against AIDS, says UNAIDS chief.

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A worm germline parts list

By | October 4, 2000

The sequencing of the genome of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans has made real worm genomics possible. In the September Molecular Cell, Reinke et al. make good on that promise with a DNA array analysis of 11,917 worm genes (~63% of the genome Mol. Cell 2000, 6:605-616). They define 1,416 genes whose transcription is enriched 1.8- to 104-fold in the worm germline, including 650 sperm-enriched genes, 258 oocyte-enriched genes, and 508 germline-intrinsic genes. Some genes can be picked out of this m

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Sequence of a single-celled vulture

By | October 4, 2000

Thermoplasma acidophilum is an archaeon that lives off the carcasses of organisms that perish in its hot, acidic home. In the 28 September Nature, Ruepp et al. find that the microbe has scavenged genes from its neighbors in order to survive (Nature 2000, 407:508-513). T. acidophilum was originally suspected to be an ancestor of the eukaryotes, as it has complexes involved in protein folding, degradation and turnover that look like simplified versions of the corresponding eukaryotic complexes. Bu

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Fear of legal action is hobbling research into a key AIDS threat, which may quadruple the numbers infected with HIV in China.

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A gene identified in mice could encourage excess energy to be released as heat rather than converted to fat.

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