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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

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.