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This Week in PNAS: Jan 25, 2012

In a paper appearing in this week's PNAS Early Edition, a team led by investigators at the University of California, Irvine, shows that the sperm dynein intermediate chain multigene family contributes to the differential reproductive success among Drosophila males, such that deletion of all members "impairs the competence of the sperm in the presence of sperm from wild-type males." This also shows "how quickly a new gene function can be incorporated into the genetic network of a species," the authors write.

A team led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania this week reports that gene augmentation therapy — "subretinal injections of adeno-associated virus-2/5-vectored human RPGR with human IRBP or GRK1 promoters" — improved rod and cone photoreceptor function in treated dogs with blinding photoreceptor diseases. The authors say that the "efficacy of gene therapy in these large animal models of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa provides a path for translation to human treatment."

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and their collaborators report their use of selected reaction monitoring to track proteolysis induced by human apoptotic caspases-3, -7, -8, and -9 in lysates and living cells. In using this method, the researchers found that certain biological processes are "rapidly targeted by the caspases, including multiple components of the endocyotic pathway and miRNA processing machinery."

Also in this week's Early Edition, a paper authored by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that ferric heme serves as an activator for microRNA maturation. The authors suggest that "an intracellular environment increasing the availability of ferric heme may enhance the efficiency of pri-miRNA processing."

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.