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This Week in PNAS: Jun 5, 2012

An international team led by investigators at the University of California, San Diego, show that the elimination of one or both of the two sialic acid-recognizing Ig-like lectins — or Siglecs, signaling receptors that modulate immune responses — "represents signatures of infectious and/or other inflammatory selective processes contributing to population restrictions during hominin origins," it writes in a paper published online in advance in PNAS this week.

A public-private collaboration led by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine presents evidence suggesting a fundamental role for the GBA gene in immune regulation, and that GBA mutations in Gaucher disease "may cause widespread immune dysregulation through the accumulation of substrates," the group writes.

Elsewhere in this week's PNAS Early Edition, Harvard University's Daniel Hartl and his colleagues report their use of 15 Drosophila Y chromosomes "originating from a single founder 550 generations ago to study the role of the Y chromosome in regulating rRNA gene transcription, position-effect variegation, and the link among rDNA copy number, global gene expression, and chromatin regulation," they write. Overall, Hartl et al. report having found that "the Y chromosome is involved in diverse phenomena related to transcriptional regulation including X-linked rDNA silencing and suppression of PEV [position-effect variegation] phenotype."

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.