Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Nature: Aug 7, 2008

Researchers at the Université de la Méditerranée discovered a tiny virus that acts as a parasite of another, much larger virus. Naming it Sputnik, they found that the small virus is able to rapidly proliferate in the virus factory found in amoebae co-infected with APMV4, an even larger version of Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus. Sputnik is actually harmful to APMV growth, and has been named a "virophage." A news item follows up, as does a blog post. "It's all very meta, and to the researchers, the fact that mamaviruses can 'get sick' themselves is further evidence that viruses are indeed living things," says Ed at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

In other virus news, Yale researchers used an RNAi screen to find genes associated with infection by West Nile virus, reporting on the identification of 305 host proteins that affect WNV infection. Ubiquitin ligase CBLL1, the endoplasmic-reticulum-associated degradation pathway, and the monocarboxylic acid transporter MCT4 all play roles.

A column takes a look at the budget impasse in the wake of the upcoming presidential election, and how it might affect science spending. According to the article, President Bush has decided to break precedent and will not be preparing a budget for fiscal year 2010 before leaving office. As a result, federal agencies will likely see spending frozen at current levels for at least the first four months of the fiscal year.

A feature from the AACR Human Epigenome Task Force and the European Union, Network of Excellence, Scientific Advisory Board lays out a plan for an international Human Epigenome Project. The Alliance for the Human Epigenome and Disease (AHEAD) will provide high-resolution reference epigenome maps to help solve the problems of cancer and other intractable diseases. Several technology features check into the tools for tackling the epigenome, and a paper from Broad researchers uses bisulphite sequencing to create genome-wide DNA methylation maps for mouse embryonic stem cells, embryonic-stem-cell-derived and primary neural cells, and eight other primary tissues.


The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.