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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

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.