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New York University School of Medicine's Evgeny Nudler et al. link RNA polymerase backtracking to genome instability in E. coli in Cell this week. In its paper, the NYU team shows that "co-directional collisions between backtracked RNAP [RNA polymerase] and replisome lead to DSBs [double-strand breaks]" in the bacterium. It also shows that "active ribosomes preserve genome integrity" by preventing such backtracking.

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In a letter, about two dozen researchers criticize the World Health Organization investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and call for a new inquiry, the Wall Street Journal reports.

National Geographic reports that nine great apes at the San Diego Zoo have been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.

Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, speaks with NPR about SARS-CoV-2 testing and vaccines in the US.

In Science this week: genetic study of kidney fibrosis implicates the SOX9-NAV3-YAP1 axis.