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This Week in Nature: Aug 4, 2011

In a paper published online in advance in Nature this week, a team led by investigators at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory presents what it calls "a non-biased approach to probe epigenetic vulnerabilities in acute myeloid leukemia," which is often associated with aberrant chromatin states. Using this approach — which involves "screening a custom library of small hairpin RNAs targeting known chromatin regulators in a genetically defined AML mouse model" — the team identified the protein bromodomain-containing 4 [Brd4] as a critical requirement of disease maintenance. Supported by their subsequent experimental results, the researchers say that small-molecule inhibition of Brd4 could be a "promising therapeutic strategy in AML and, potentially, other cancers."

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine show that the transcription factor T-cell factor 1, or TCF-1, "is a critical regulator in T-cell specification." In its Nature paper published online in advance this week, the Pennsylvania-based team reports evidence to suggest a model in which "Notch signals induce TCF-1, and TCF-1 in turn imprints the T-cell fate by upregulating expression of T-cell essential genes."

In two papers recently published online in advance in Nature Genetics, two teams report asthma-associated susceptibility loci. The RIKEN research institute's Tomomitsu Hirota et al. report five asthma-susceptibility loci they identified in a Japanese population, while the University of Chicago's Dara Torgerson et al. present their "meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies of asthma … including individuals of European American, African American or African Caribbean, and Latino ancestry," through which they also identified five susceptibility loci for asthma.

Over in Nature Reviews Genetics, Stanford University's Mildred Cho and her colleagues consider the ethical implications of "the GI genome" — sequencing members of the armed forces. Specifically, Cho et al. dicuss the recent JASON Defense Advisory Panel report that recommends the US Department of Defense develop the infrastructure necessary to perform genomics research on military personnel.

The Scan

Boosters Chasing Variants

The New York Times reports that an FDA advisory panel is to weigh updated booster vaccines for COVID-19.

Not Yet

The World Health Organization says monkeypox is not yet a global emergency, the Washington Post reports.

More Proposed for Federal Research

Science reports that US House of Representatives panels are seeking to increase federal research funding.

PLOS Papers on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Left-Sided Cardiac Defects, SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring

In PLOS this week: link between breast cancer metastasis and CLIC4, sequencing analysis of left-sided cardiac defects, and more.