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This Week in Nature: Jun 5, 2008

In work out of UCSF and Stanford, biologists and mathematicians have teamed up to create a complete three-dimensional branching pattern and lineage of the mouse bronchial tree. The tree is generated by three local modes, each controlled by a "genetically encoded subroutine, a series of local patterning and morphogenesis operations, which are themselves controlled by a more global master routine," the authors write in the abstract.

Several papers describe work done on small RNAs in the fruit fly. Three separate groups have found that a new, third class of small RNAs in Drosophila, called endogenous short interfering RNAs (esiRNAs) bind to Argonaute 2 in somatic cells. Japanese researchers have found that AGO2, a subfamily member of the Argonaute proteins, associates with this class of 20- to 22-nucleotide-long RNAs to silence both protein-coding genes and mobile elements, such as transposons. Cold Spring Harbor Lab's Greg Hannon and Julius Brennecke and Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Eric Lai publish similar findings in this issue.

In book reviews, Robert Weinberg reviews Henry Harris' new translation of Theodor Boveri's seminal work, Concerning the Origin of Malignant Tumours. Boveri, who died in 1915, is best remembered for his idea that not only are chromosomes responsible for transferring heritable traits, but also that chromosomal abnormalities cause cancer. "For those biologists among us who are interested in how we got to where we are, this book makes fascinating reading, even if it does not lay down an accurate trail of previous discoveries," Weinberg writes. "This book takes us back to the humble beginnings of this now thriving field."

 

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.