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This Week in PNAS: Jun 2, 2009

Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have used metabolomics to measure internal body time. Performing blood metabolome analysis on mice, they were able to measure hundreds of clock-controlled metabolites in mouse plasma; using the scan, they found body time under various conditions, which included differences in genetic background, sex, age, and feeding patterns. "These results suggest the potential for metabolomics-based detection of BT ('metabolite-timetable method'), which will lead to the realization of chronotherapy and personalized medicine," the authors write.

Also this week, Vrije Universiteit scientists published computational work on the genome packaging of the herpes simplex virus and stabilization process of the capsid, or the protein that contains it. Using atomic force microscopy, they found that "the presence of DNA does not account for changes in mechanical properties during capsid maturation." Their work makes them believe that capsids are stabilized after removal of the scaffold proteins, and that this is triggered by the packaging of DNA, but independent of the actual presence of DNA, they say.

Michigan's Arul Chinnaiyan is lead author on work published this week finding that AGTR1, the angiotensin II receptor type I, is overexpressed in 10 to 20 percent of breast cancer cases. After scanning 3,200 microarray experiments, they found that not only is AGTR1 highly overexpressed in many cases, but that it's only found in excess in tumors that lacked ERBB2, or HER2, and that expressed the estrogen receptor, ER-positive. Tests on mice with tumors overexpressing AGTR1 found that the blood pressure drug losartan shrank the tumors by 30 percent within eight weeks of treatment, reports a story in Forbes.

Wellcome Trust researchers in Scotland led by David Tollervey have identified protein-binding sites on U3 snoRNA and pre-rRNA using a combination of UV crosslinking and high-throughput analysis of cDNAs. Using this approach, they could verifiably map binding sites for the snoRNP proteins Nop1, Nop56, Nop58, and Rrp9, and then sequenced these sites using either Sanger or Solexa sequencing. They say that the method "should be widely applicable to analyses of RNA–protein interactions."

Finally, in a paper from Francis Collins and Teri Manolio at the National Human Genome Research Institute, they've developed an online catalog of SNP-trait associations from published genome-wide association studies to better study trait/disease-associated SNPs. A news story at our sister publication Genome Web Daily News elaborates on this Catalog of Published Genome-Wide Association Studies.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.