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This Week in PLOS: Aug 20, 2012

In PLOS Computational Biology, the University of Copenhagen's Kim Sneppen and the University of Adelaide's Ian Dodd report on their study of the histone code using computer simulations. They examined "the possibilities for generating heritably bistable systems with a minimal histone code in which there are modifications at two separate histone positions" and found a number of solutions, "including some unexpected new regulatory designs for bistable feedback systems," the researchers write. "Thus, having two histone positions that can be modified AND having reading and writing enzymes that can distinguish the four resulting nucleosome types allows a large variety of reaction circuits that can generate stable and heritable alternative modification states."

Investigators at the University of Leeds in the UK present in PLOS One a program to visualize microarray-based copy-number data. The program, called CNViewer, is "a simple, free to use, user-friendly, Windows-based software tool for use by clinicians, which allows the rapid visualisation and detection of CNVs that may be linked to a disease phenotype. Also, when used with data from multiple members of a small pedigree, it can identify CNVs segregating with a disease phenotype," the researchers write.

Also in PLOS One, researchers in China investigate various reference genes to use to normalize quantitative real-time PCR data from the tung tree. Using, geNorm, Bestkeeper, and NormFinder, they examine the expression profiles of 11 reference genes —ACT7, ALB, EF1α, EF1β, TEF1, GAPDH, LCR69, SAMDC, TCTP, UBC, and UBQ — in six different tissues during six different developmental stages. From this, the researchers found that ACT7, UBQ, GAPDH, and EF1α were good reference gene candidates as their expression eves were stable across the various samples.

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.