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This Week in Nature: Jul 23, 2009

There's a silver lining to this downturn, and John Browning touches on it in an essay in this week's issue of Nature. "Venture funding is declining quickly and is unlikely to bounce back," he writes. "But less money means lower expectations – good news for smaller science start-ups." While the 1990s boom meant expectations that many companies couldn't meet, today's market gives smaller, less ambitious projects a better chance. And if you're not into being an entrepreneur, check out the fields of nanomedicine and nanotechnology, which are growing in jobs.

Bradley Cairns from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah led a study that looked at the contribution of chromatin in sperm to epigenetic inheritance. His team found that in sperm, nucleosomes that were kept – and not replaced by protamine as typically happens in mature sperm – were "significantly enriched at loci of developmental importance," including imprinted gene clusters, microRNA clusters, HOX gene clusters, and promoters of stand-alone developmental transcription and signaling factors, they write.

University of Tokyo scientists used systems biology approaches to find that p53 affects miRNA processing as part of its tumor suppressor activity. Measuring the expression levels of miRNAs using qRT-PCR, they found that when exposed to the DNA-damaging agent doxorubicin, a p53 inducer, in human colon cancer cells, the post-transcriptional expression levels of several miRNAs with growth-suppressive functions increased, including miR-16-1, miR-143, and miR-145. Using RNA-ChIP, they found that p53 associates with the Drosha processing complex. A News and Views story has more.

An article in Nature Reviews Genetics, co-authored by James Lupski, P. J. Hastings, and others, talks about copy number variation and how it's increasingly being associated with genome evolution and human disease. Among others, topics include how copy number change arises by non-homologous end-joining and non-homologous repair of broken replication forks.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.