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This Week in Nature: Oct 2, 2008

Dave Bartel's lab at MIT has checked in on the origins of small RNAs, finding miRNAs and piRNAs from animal phyla that diverged before the emergence of the Bilateria, including the starlet sea anemone and the sponge. The anemone has many miRNA genes, two classes of piRNAs, and a complement of proteins specific to small-RNA biology comparable to that of humans. The Amphimedon queenslandica, or sponge, also possesses miRNAs, both classes of piRNAs, and a full complement of the small-RNA machinery.

Using advances in computational proteomics, including stable-isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) quantification, MPI's Matthias Mann has compared the proteomes of haploid and diploid yeast. He found that key members of the pheromone pathway and several retrotransposon-associated proteins were specific to haploid yeast.

Harvard's Doug Melton's lab has used three transcription factors, Ngn3 (also known as Neurog3), Pdx1, and Mafa to reprogram differentiated pancreatic exocrine cells in adult mice into cells that closely resemble beta-cells. The process, called transdifferentiation, allows one cell to differentiate into another without the need to first convert it to an ES cell-like state. A news story elaborates on the potential of the process.

Finally, a set of articles tackles metabolomics. One looks at the field in general, including some current methods used to isolate different molecules, including gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Another looks at applying the field in enology, or the study of wine.


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.