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This Week in Nature: Nov 1, 2007

In news, the Boston-based Autism Consortium released raw genotype data from 4,250 individuals — including people with autism, their parents and their siblings. Collaborating lead investigators Aravinda Chakravarti of Johns Hopkins and Mark Daly of the Autism Consortium hope to identify key variants over the next several months.

Scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute report functional analyses of RXLR and EER, two motifs that are present in translocated oomycete effector proteins, which help these "water molds" transmit disease. By substituting these motifs with alanine residues, they confirmed that RXLR and EER are required for translocation. Further bioinformatic analysis identified 425 potential genes encoding secreted RXLR-EER class proteins in the Phytophthora infestans genome.

UNC researchers used a loss-of-function approach to demonstrate that the mouse histone demethylase JHDM2A (JmjC-domain-containing histone demethylase 2A) is essential for spermatogenesis. Their research showed that JHDM2A directly binds to and controls the expression of transition nuclear protein 1 (Tnp1) and protamine 1 (Prm1) genes in mice, which help package sperm chromatin.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.