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This Week in Nature: Oct 30, 2008

An editorial in Nature says that it would cast its (imaginary) ballot for Senator Obama, explaining that while both candidates support science and technology, Obama "has surrounded himself with a wider and more able cadre of advisers than McCain." At The Tree of Life, Jonathan Eisen worries that McCain has "expressed decidedly anti-science positions recently," which would suggest that, as President, even if McCain sought reasonable advice, he probably wouldn't take it.

In news, a study showed that older scientists publish more than younger ones. Scientists at the University of Quebec combed through the publication record of about 14,000 professors and found that researchers in their 50s and 60s published almost twice as many papers each year as those in their early 30s. A news feature explores the impact systems biology has had on big pharma, and how it's being utilized in drug discovery research.

Work out of Dave Bartel's lab has surveyed the origins of small RNAs in animals. They identified miRNAs and piRNAs in two animals that diverged before the emergence of bilaterians, the cnidarian starlet sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, and the poriferan sponge, Amphimedon queenslandica, suggesting that "miRNA evolution seems to have been relatively dynamic," says the abstract. A related perspective details their findings.

Using mass spec, a team led by Matthias Mann at the Max Planck Institute measured protein levels across four orders of magnitude to compare the proteomes of haploid and diploid yeast cells. SILAC quantification showed that key members of the pheromone pathway and several retrotransposon-associated proteins were specific to haploid yeast.


The Scan

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A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.

Tibetan Study Finds Adaptive Variant Influencing Skin Pigmentation

With a combination of phenotyping and genetic data, researchers document at PNAS a Tibetan-enriched enhancer variant influencing melanin synthesis and ultraviolet light response.

Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Researchers highlighted more than 300 positively selected genes in domesticated mice, including genes linked to nervous system function or behavior in Genome Biology.

ALS Genetic Testing May Be Informative Across Age Ranges, Study Finds

Researchers in the journal Brain identified clinically actionable variants in a significant subset of older ALS patients, prompting them to point to the potential benefits of broader test use.