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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

CDC Calls Delta "Variant of Concern"

CNN reports the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to be a "variant of concern."

From FDA to Venture Capital

Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is taking a position at a venture capital firm, leading some ethicists to raise eyebrows, according to the Washington Post.

Consent Questions

Nature News writes that there are questions whether informed consent was obtained for some submissions to a database of Y-chromosome profiles.

Cell Studies on Multimodal Single-Cell Analysis, Coronaviruses in Bats, Urban Microbiomes

In Cell this week: approach to analyze multimodal single-cell genomic data, analysis of bat coronaviruses, and more.