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This Week in Nature: Jan 13, 2011

In Nature this week, Duke University's Robin Hopkins and Mark Rausher show that cis-regulatory mutations to two genes in the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway cause flower color change in Phlox drummondii. While one of these is recessive, the other is dominant, such that "hybrid offspring produce an intermediate flower color that is visited less by pollinators, and is presumably maladaptive," Hopkins and Rausher write, adding that "genetic change selected to increase prezygotic isolation also appears to result in increased postzygotic isolation."

Writing in this week's issue, Arizona State University's George Poste says that "the dismal patchwork of fragmented research on disease-associated biomarkers should be replaced by a coordinated 'big science' approach." Working alone, researchers have limited access to the resources that robust biomarker discovery and validation studies require, Poste argues. To achieve progress, he says, "biomarker research must operate more like the large, collaborative networks mobilized for international genome-wide association studies."

In a Nature Genetics advance online publication, investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine show that a SNP in the 3'-UTR of P2RY11 is associated with narcolepsy. In a genome-wide association study on more than 6,100 individuals across three ethnic groups, the Stanford team found reduced expression of P2RY11 in CD8+ T lymphocytes and natural killer cells — though not in other peripheral blood mononuclear cell types — in participants with the disease-associated allele. In its subsequent analysis, the team shows that beyond its variant's association with narcolepsy, P2RY11 is an "important regulator of immune-cell survival."

And in the current issue of Nature Reviews Cancer, researchers at McGill University discuss "the human cancer tyrosine phosphatome." Because some protein tyrosine phosphatases may be tumor suppressors, "but accumulating evidence indicates that some PTPs may exert oncogenic functions," the authors consider these molecules' duplicitous functions "either as putative tumor suppressors or as candidate oncoproteins," and whether they "might be potential therapeutic targets in human cancer."

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.