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This Week in Nature: Mar 14, 2013

In Nature this week, an international team of researchers present an analysis of tapeworm genome sequences that has uncovered a variety of potential targets for fighting the parasites. Using three human-infective tapeworm species and one lab model, the scientists uncovered gene losses and gains related to the animal’s adaptation to the host environment, such as ones involved in nutrient metabolism, which relates to their ability to absorb nutrients from their hosts. The work revealed new areas for therapeutic intervention, including ones for which existing drugs may be effective.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.

Meantime, in Nature Biotechnology, researchers from Harvard University report on a new method to produce siRNAs in Escherichia coli, rather than through chemical synthesis. The technique involves the expression of p19, an siRNA-binding protein found in plant RNA viruses, in E. coli, which stabilizes an 21 nucleotide-long siRNA species produces by the bacterial RNase III. When mammalian cells are transfected with them, siRNAs that were generated in bacteria expressing p19 and a hairpin RNA encoding 200 or more nucleotides of a target gene reproducibly knock down target gene expression by around 90 percent without immunogenicity or off-target effects.