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This Week in Nature: Nov 8, 2012

In Nature, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Francisco, describe the creation of genetic programs from layered logic gates in single cells. To do so, they developed a set of transcriptional AND gates in Escherichia coli, which integrate two promoter inputs and control one promoter output. As a result, the AND gate can be layered by having the output promoter of an upstream circuit serve as the input promoter for a downstream circuit. The work, the researchers say, demonstrates successful layering of orthogonal logic gates, “a design strategy that could enable the construction of large, integrated circuits in single cells.”

In Nature Genetics, a team from the National Institutes of Health reports on the discovery of recurrent somatic mutations that cause endometrial cancer. The researchers sequenced the exome of 13 primary serous endometrial tumors. They then sequenced 18 genes showing recurrence in an additional 40 tumors, as well as three of these genes in 23 cell-cell, 67 endometrioid, and 18 mixed-histology endometrial tumors. They identified a high frequency of somatic mutations in genes associated with chromatin remodeling or the ubiquitin ligase complex, “implicating frequent mutational disruption of these processes in the molecular pathogenesis” of this form of cancer.

Also in Nature Genetics, investigators from DeCode Genetics publish the results of a whole-genome sequencing study that identified a rare genetic variant associated with prostate cancer. This variant is weakly correlated with previously reported risk variants at the same loci, and “its association remains significant after adjustment for all known risk-associated variants.”

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.