In a paper published online in advance in Nature this week, a team led by investigators at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany, say aberrant activation of oncogenes in normal cells can trigger a senescence program. This suggests that "senescence surveillance represents an important extrinsic component of the senescence anti-tumor barrier, and illustrates how the cellular senescence program is involved in tumor immune surveillance by mounting specific immune responses against antigens expressed in pre-malignant senescent cells," the authors write.
Researchers at the Dulbecco Telethon Institute in Rome this week demonstrate that "chromatin-associated RNA interference components contribute to transcriptional regulation in Drosophila." More specifically, the researchers show in the fly that after heat shock, "both Dcr2 and Ago2 null mutations, as well as missense mutations that compromise the RNAi activity, impaired the global dynamics of RNA polymerase II."
In another Nature advance online publication, a team led by investigators at California State University at Northridge this week reports its metagenomic analysis of a permafrost microbial community, which it says revealed "a rapid response to thaw." Daily Scan sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study.
And in a letter published in this week's issue, P. William Hughes at Carleton University in Ottawa says the Nobel Prize award categories neglect to acknowledge the importance of fundamental biological research. "The symbolic recognition of the work of Nobel laureates increases awareness of scientific research in the eyes of the public. It is a continuing shame that fundamental biology — and not just its application in medicine — lacks such a patron," Hughes writes.