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This Week in PNAS: Aug 2, 2011

Investigators at the University of British Columbia this week present in the PNAS Early Edition "a fully integrated microfluidic device capable of performing high-precision RT-qPCR measurements of gene expression from hundreds of single cells per run." The UBC team says its "device executes all steps of single-cell processing, including cell capture, cell lysis, reverse transcription, and quantitative PCR" with higher throughput, increased sensitivity, decreased measurement noise, and at single-nucleotide specificity and lower cost. "The core functionality established here provides the foundation from which a variety of on-chip single-cell transcription analyses will be developed," the authors say of their paper.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University show that the splicing regulator Hu proteins "can induce local histone hyperacetylation by association with their target sequences on the pre-mRNA surrounding alternative exons of two different genes." In addition, the Case Western team shows that "Hu proteins interact with histone deacetylase 2 and inhibit its deacetylation activity," and suggest that "splicing regulators may actively modulate chromatin structure when recruited to their target RNA sequences co-transcriptionally."

An international team led by investigators at Italy's University of Rome Tor Vergata present evidence to suggest the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 6, or IRF6, plays a role in the suppression of tumorigenesis in stratified epithelia. In its genome-wide ChIP-seq analysis meant "to identify the molecular mechanisms regulating IRF6 potential tumor suppressive activity," the team observed "dysregulation of cell cycle-related genes and genes involved in differentiation, cell adhesion, and cell-cell contact," many of which are direct IRF6 targets, it says.

In another paper appearing online in advance in PNAS this week, investigators at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and elsewhere report their use of stimulated emission depletion microscopy and molecular biology techniques to enable a high-resolution study of nucleoids in a panel of mammalian tissue culture cells. "We show by molecular modeling and volume calculations that TFAM [mitochondrial transcription factor A] is a main constituent of the nucleoid, besides mtDNA," the authors write.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.