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This Week in Nature: Jul 9, 2009

In Nature this week, Declan Butler interviewed biomedical researcher Mostafa Moin, who was a reformist candidate in Iran's 2005 presidential elections. Noting that science – among other things – has stagnated under recently re-elected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Moin urges the international scientific community to help turn the tide in Iran: "Prominent universities and scientists worldwide can help through legitimate criticism of the Iranian government's treatment of students, academics, scientists and the people of Iran; its violations of citizens' constitutional rights and academic freedom."

Variable, diversity, and joining gene segment (V(D)J) recombination, or receptor editing, typically occurs in the bone marrow, while class switch recombination (CSR) happens in mature B cells. Errors can lead to chromosomal translocations in B cell lymphomas. Using FISH, PCR, and other techniques, a study led by HHMI researcher Jing Wang showed that both types of recombination can actually occur in the periphery in mature B cells. "These findings refute the long-standing belief that receptor editing and class-switch recombination are restricted to distinct anatomical locations and specific stages of B-cell development, and provide insight into the mechanism of gene translocations," says a related News and Views article.

A featured article in Molecular Systems Biology used "gene expression and transcription network connectivity data, genetic knockouts, and network component analysis" to measure the isobutanol response network of E. coli under aerobic conditions. Isobutanol is a potential biofuel. UCLA scientists found that respiration was greatly affected, and that ArcA was an important mediator of this response. "The network described here could aid design and comprehension of alcohol tolerance," they say.

Finally, the University of Pittsburgh's Michael Tsang published work in the early online edition of Nature Chemical Biology that used an in vivo chemical screen to study fibroblast growth factor signaling in the zebrafish. Employing a transgenic zebrafish chemical screen, he and his team found that BCI inhibits dual-specificity phosphatase 6 (Dusp6) activation, which normally plays a role in restricting cardiac progenitors and controlling heart organ size.

The Scan

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.