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This Week in Nature: Oct 23, 2009

In early online publication in Nature, Harvard's Bill Hahn is senior author on work that used an RNAi screen to find synthetic lethal partners of oncogenic KRAS -- "gene products that, when inhibited, result in cell death only in the presence of an oncogenic allele." They found that the IkappaB kinase TBK1 was needed in cells with mutant KRAS, and by suppressing this gene they induced apoptosis in human cancer cells that depend on oncogenic KRAS expression.

Harvard's X. Sunney Xie is lead author on work that developed an imaging method that can be used in place of fluorescence. Stimulated emission microscopy, they say, has many applications, including "visualizing chromoproteins, non-fluorescent variants of the green fluorescent protein, monitoring lacZ gene expression with a chromogenic reporter, mapping transdermal drug distributions without histological sectioning, and label-free microvascular imaging based on endogenous contrast of haemoglobin." A News and Views article written in part by imaging leader Stefan Hell adds insight.

Researchers studied the effect of transposition on the integrity of a eukaryotic genome. Led by Takatoshi Tanisaka of Kyoto University and Susan Wessler at the University of Georgia, Athens, they used high-throughput sequencing and microarrays to study the effect of over 1,600 insertion sites on the transcription of more than 700 genes. Across 24 different rice plants, they found, "the vast majority of transposable element insertions either upregulate or have no detectable effect on gene transcription."

In Nature Methods there's a paper from scientists at Hubrecht Institute and Erasmus Medical Center in The Netherlands demonstrating the use of chromatin conformation capture on chip (4C) to perform high-resolution genomic screens for balanced and complex inversions and translocations. Plus, this month the magazine is celebrating its fifth birthday, and there's a slew of articles on how new techniques have improved all areas of systems biology research, including live cell imaging, sequencing, engineered fluorescent proteins, mass spectrometry, high-throughput genetic screening, and more.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.