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This Week in Nature: Aug 16, 2007

A Nature news article interviews Nina Fedoroff, a former plant geneticist and proponent of GM crops, who will take office as the new science and technology adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The interview probes her views on science and politics, and science foreign policy.

In an attempt to speed up enzyme evolution, HHMI researchers have developed a process that allows them to evolve new peptides de novo. Using a technique called mRNA display, they screened proteins according to catalytic function by attaching each to their specific mRNA that encodes the protein. According to this related News and Views story, the researchers used the technique “to evolve proteins that not only bind to target molecules, but also catalyze enzymatic reactions that use the bound target molecules as substrates.”

Scientists at UCSF have used a combination of computational methods and biochemical tests to identify the function of the enzyme, Tm0936, found in Thermotoga maritima bacteria. By comparing catalytic sites to enzymes in the same family, they were able to propose that Tm0936 is part of a metabolic pathway present in several organisms. According to the blog, What You’re Doing Is Rather Desperate, “if you enjoy genome-scale bioinformatics and structural biology, it’s almost enough to make you drool.”


The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.