A highly cited 1997 paper on transcription-coupled repair was retracted by Science this week, after coauthor Steven Leadon, formerly of the University of North Carolina, was found guilty by a university committee of fabricating and falsifying data.

The research, which had been cited 227 times, reported evidence for one of the two prevalent hypotheses explaining the molecular correlates of Cockayne syndrome, a disorder that leads to death in early childhood.

The suggestion is that one of the underlying causes of Cockayne syndrome is the cell's inability to perform transcription-coupled repair of oxidative damage, according to first author Priscilla Cooper of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The alternative hypothesis states that the proteins involved in transcription-coupled repair are also important for efficient basal transcription in the absence of any kind of DNA damage.

"There is some evidence on both sides of that question," said Cooper, "but data from my and other...

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