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This Week in PNAS: Aug 18, 2009

A study has shown that having a particular gene variant causes some macaque monkeys to drink more alcohol in experiments, says a story at the BBC. This week, researchers led by NIH's Christina Barr published work in PNAS that shows that in rhesus macaques, a SNP in the CRH promoter, which encodes corticotropin-releasing factor, was associated with drinking to relieve stress. "Our data suggest that CRH promoter variation that confers increased stress reactivity increases the risk for alcohol use disorders in stress-exposed individuals," they say in the abstract.

Scientists at the University of British Columbia and the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver demonstrate an improved method for extracting nucleic acids from "challenging samples." They based their method on the fact that under electrophoretic fields, long, charged molecules show a nonlinear drift response. A story in our sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, delves farther into the study.

Noah Rosenberg and Michael DeGiorgio at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, led work where they incorporated genetic drift into a simplified serial founder model to explain the increase in genetic diversity as humans migrated out of Africa. Their "retrospective coalescent-based serial founder model" can be used to explain the three trends observed in the genetic variation of human populations as they get further geographically from East Africa.

Finally, scientists took a look at the human myelin proteome. Myelin promotes nerve transmission by insulating axons and when it becomes damaged, it leads to debilitating diseases like MS. In this paper, they use a shotgun approach of one-dimensional PAGE and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spec to identify 308 common proteins from human and mouse myelin fractions. Comparing their data with four other myelin proteomes confirmed more than 50 percent of the identified proteins and revealed the presence of 163 additional proteins, they say in the abstract.

The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.