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This Week in Nature: Jul 30, 2009

An editorial focuses on "petabyte science," as it refers to large-scale scientific studies that result in a glut of data. A report from a committee at the US National Academy of Sciences recommends various principles centered around access, integrity, and stewardship.

Here's a Q&A with Anthony Fauci, director of the US NIAID, about upcoming clinical trials for two H1N1 flu vaccines slated to begin shortly. For more, check out this letter from Ilaria Capua and Giovanni Cattoli calling for fast-tracking human vaccination in certain developing countries to "prevent reassortment between naoH1N1 or other novel pandemic influenza strains and avian influenza viruses."

Chen-Ming Fan from the Carnegie Institution is senior author on a paper demonstrating that Pax7, a transcription factor necessary for muscle growth in young mice, can be inactivated in adult mice without preventing muscle growth. The authors conclude, "Our finding of an age-dependent change in the genetic requirement for muscle stem cells cautions against inferring adult stem-cell biology from embryonic studies, and has direct implications for the use of stem cells from hosts of different ages in transplantation-based therapy." Terry Partridge offers a perspective.

The University of North Carolina's Terry Magnuson is senior author on this paper, which looked at X-chromosome inactivation in mouse embryos to understand the role of noncoding Xist RNA. "Our results show that although silencing of Xp-linked genes can initiate in the absence of Xist, Xp–Xist is clearly required for imprinted XCI; in its absence, after initial silencing Xp-linked genes become expressed in progressively higher numbers of cells and/or at increased levels," the authors write.

Meanwhile, Stanford scientists studied neural development in mice and determined that a key step in the process is mediated by microRNA, specifically miR-9 and miR-124. "Our studies indicate that the mechanism underlying the essential switch in subunit composition of Swi/Snf-like BAF complexes involves miRNA-mediated repression of BAF53a as neural progenitors differentiate into neurons," the authors write.

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.