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This Week in PNAS: Feb 28, 2012

In a paper published online in advance in PNAS this week, investigators at the University of California, Davis, "describe a unique technique for rapidly creating recombinant doubled haploid populations in Arabidopsis thaliana: centromere-mediated genome elimination." The team says its approach shows that "haploid populations offer a rapid, easy alternative to RILs [recombinant inbred lines] for Arabidopsis genetic analysis."

Elsewhere in this week's Early Edition, a team led by researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents genetic evidence of "a distinct lineage of influenza A virus from bats." The CDC-led team says that "despite its divergence from known influenza A viruses, the bat virus is compatible for genetic exchange with human influenza viruses in human cells, suggesting the potential capability for reassortment and contributions to new pandemic or panzootic influenza A viruses."

Investigators at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City this week show that REST-dependent epigenetic remodeling plays a role in neurodegeneration associated with ischemic stroke. The authors show that REST binds a subset of so-called transcriptionally responsive genes, and that it "assembles with CoREST, mSin3A, histone deacetylases 1 and 2, histone methyl-transferase G9a, and methyl CpG binding protein 2 at the promoters of target genes, where it orchestrates epigenetic remodeling and gene silencing."

Finally, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and at the University at Albany in New York show that there are "multiple self-splicing introns in the 16S rRNA genes of giant sulfur bacteria" in a PNAS paper published online in advance this week. "The detection of elongated 16S rRNA genes has profound implications for common methods in molecular ecology and may cause systematic biases in several techniques," the authors write.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.