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This Week in Nature: Jul 10, 2008

In early online publication, EMBL researchers have created genome-wide recombination maps of S. cerevisiae using genetic marker data. The maps detail crossovers, crossover-associated gene conversion and non-crossover gene conversion, and they are the first high-res representations of genome-wide recombination possibilities in any organism.

Also in advanced online, scientists at UCSC's Center for Molecular Biology of RNA have found hammerhead ribozymes in the 3' UTRs of rodent C-type lectin type II (Clec2) genes. This ribozyme, which regulates bone remodeling and the immune response, also exists in related genes in the rat, horse, and platypus, and in unknown genes in five other mammals, they found. "I was working on something else, but we got some preliminary data and it turned out to be a very fruitful collaboration; it’s the kind of interaction that the RNA Center is meant to stimulate,” says Lucas Horan at ThinkGene of his collaboration with the lead author Monika Martick.

A news piece looks at how best to find psychiatric risk genes when genome-wide association studies are failing to match variants with actual disease. Some, like Daniel Weinberger at the NIH, believe that a candidate gene approach is more effective, and the focus on 'intermediate phenotypes' continues to be weighed against traditional large-scale GWAS.

NIH researchers have used an RNAi screen to find that the IRF4 gene, which is normally not an oncogene, kills myeloma cells when depleted. A related News and Views writes, "What is surprising about Schaffer and colleagues' observations is that, despite its battery of oncogenic mutations, myeloma is addicted to a normal gene."


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.