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Last Week in Nature

An editorial in Nature argues that the worries over genetically modified crops will be "costly and wasteful" in Africa. The African Union gathered a group, including Tewolde Egziabher of Ethiopia's Environmental Protection Authority, Calestous Juma, a Harvard professor of international development, Cheick Modibo Diarra the chairman of Microsoft in Africa, that found that Africa needs new agricultural technologies, with safeguards in place.

Nature also gives a synopsis of a Cell paper from James Collins, which it says shows "one of the first demonstrations of the practical value of systems biology." Collins and his colleagues used DNA microarrays to show how gene expression patterns in E. coli changed when treated with aminoglycoside antibiotics. From that, they determined which gene networks the drugs target and that the antibiotic leads to the production of hydroxyl free radicals.

A News and Views article focuses on two recent articles looking how mutations in BLM lead to the chromosomal abnormalities of Bloom's syndrome, which is characterized by a high rate of sister-chromatid exchange. The papers from Xu et al and Singh et al, in Genes and Development, independently found a new component to the BLM complex, a protein called RMI2, and they suggest that RMI2 interacts with RMI1 which then binds to BLM and Topo 3 , though RMI2 could bind to other protein complexes that repair the genome or certain DNA structures near replication forks. "An emerging theme from these studies is that a complex network of proteins that work through overlapping and interacting pathways confers genomic integrity," writes the NIH's Robert Brosh.


The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.