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This Week in Nature: Nov 13, 2008

An early online paper from Harvard researchers discovered a protein network that stabilizes rDNA repeats in S. cerevisiae through interactions between rDNA-associated silencing proteins and two proteins of the inner nuclear membrane. They showed that by deleting either the INM or silencing proteins, this "reduces perinuclear rDNA positioning, disrupts the nucleolus-nucleoplasm boundary, induces the formation of recombination foci, and destabilizes the repeats," they write in the abstract.

In the wake of an economic meltdown, this editorial says the government will have to make cuts, but hopefully it'll see that continued, long-term investment in R&D is the most prudent angle to take. On innovation, a news story looks at how the pending crisis will affect spending and thereby, creativity, within academia, industry, and government.

A news feature looks at why all drug trials for Alzheimer's disease have thus far failed, and the subsequent promise of early detection with biomarkers. The main biomarker approaches involve measuring concentrations of amyloid and tau peptides in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood to determine who is at risk for the disease. "The major challenge for researchers now is to validate the proposed biomarkers by showing that the detection methods are consistent and reliable in thousands of patients from different clinical centers and that the measurements correlate with biological or clinical endpoints," the story says.

A consortium has sequenced the genome of the Phaeodactylum tricornutum, the first diatom of the pennate lineage to be assembled, and compared it to its cousin, marine centric diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. They found 10,402 genes in P. tricornutum, says a related News and Views article, and that the two diatoms share only about 60 percent of their genes in common. Most importantly, says the abstract, they found hundreds of genes from bacteria. "More than 300 of these gene transfers are found in both diatoms, attesting to their ancient origins, and many are likely to provide novel possibilities for metabolite management and for perception of environmental signals."


The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.