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This Week in Nature: May 8, 2008

A consortium has finished a draft sequence of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) genome, revealing that the unique creature has elements of both reptilian and mammalian genomes. The semi-aquatic monotreme “occupies a lonely twig at the end of a sparse branch of the vertebrate evolutionary tree,” a news article writes. “There is nothing quite as enigmatic as a platypus,” Richard Gibbs says.

North Carolina-based Chemist Antony Williams has started a website, ChemSpider, that aggregates data on nearly 20 million molecules. A project that will "likely to ruffle the feathers of the American Chemical Society," ChemSpider provides an alternate — open access, freely available — source of chemical information to chemists around the world.

In this paper, researchers in David Baker's lab have described a method for designing enzymes that catalyze unnatural reactions, and have demonstrated its use in the Kemp elimination reaction. They used a computational screening method to complete the design of the enzyme. "The complexity of the design procedure is underlined by the number of interdisciplinary groups involved in the work, and by the huge amount of computational power required to solve the problem — donated from hundreds of thousands of idling computers around the world as part of a project known as [email protected]," says this news piece.

Research led by Sadhan Majumder at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that the transcription factor REST (RE1-silencing transcription factor) maintains a state of pluripotency in mouse embryonic stem cells by suppressing miR-21. They showed that deleting REST caused differentiation and adding REST maintained self-renewal in the mouse cells.

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.