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This Week in Nature: Sep 18, 2008

Research led by Bill Hahn used genome-wide loss-of-function screens to look for genes that regulate beta-catenin activity in colon cancer. Comparing results with copy number alterations in colon cancer data, he identified CDK8, that when suppressed, inhibits proliferation in colon cancer cells.

Other work found that miR-134, miR-296, and miR-470, which are up-regulated in retinoic-acid-induced differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells, can target the coding regions of the mouse Nanog, Oct4, and Sox2 transcription factors.

Scientists have found that the hedgehog pathway promotes tumor growth not by affecting tumor cells themselves, but by secreting proteins in stromal cells that then activate the hedgehog pathway. Using a large-scale approach that tested hedgehog inhibitors in 125 human tumor cell lines, they found no correlation between drug sensitivity and hedgehog activity. Targeting the stroma “is an attractive concept, and one that points to alternative therapeutic targets,” a related News and Views article says.

Scripps scientists used bioinformatic analysis on 150 cell samples to create a database of gene expression profiles to classify human stem cells into pluripotent, multipotent, and differentiated cell types. They also identified a protein-protein network (PluriNet) that is shared by all the pluripotent cells, suggesting that "pluripotency and self-renewal are under tight control by specific molecular networks,' they write in the abstract.


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.