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This Week in PNAS: Apr 27, 2010

In the Early Edition of PNAS this week, researchers at the Medical Research Council Centre in Cambridge, UK, report their analyses of the direct physical interactions between p53 and BRCA2. They "found that the transactivation domain of p53 made specific interactions with the C-terminal oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding-fold domains of BRCA2," and that a second similar p53 binding domain "may contribute synergistically for high affinity association of intact full-length proteins. The authors suggest that the physical association they've observed between p53 and BRCA2 "may have important functional implications…and suggests a possible interregulatory role for both proteins in apoptosis and DNA repair."

Also in the PNAS Early Edition, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and their colleagues report their identification of candidate genes that influence human resting electroencephalogram through a genome-wide association study. In a cohort of 332 Native American individuals, the team performed a whole-genome association study on alpha, beta, and theta EEG power and identified three genes — SGIPI, ST6GALNAC3, and UGDH — with association to variability with theta and alpha power. Additionally, the team found association of SGIPI with alcoholism, "an effect that may be mediated via the same brain mechanisms accessed by theta EEG," they write.

A trio of researchers in California describe a synthetic RNA regulatory system that links "rationally designed, drug-responsive, ribozyme-based regulatory devices to growth cytokine targets to control mouse and primary human T-cell proliferation." This RNA-based system, the team writes, is amenable to diverse ligand inputs and adapts to a variety of regulatory targets, both critical for potential therapeutic translation. "By providing tight gene-expression control with customizable ligand inputs, RNA-based regulatory systems can greatly improve cellular therapies and advance broad applications in health and medicine," the authors conclude.

Investigators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and their collaborators at the University of Copenhagen Biocenter report that "RNAi and heterochromatin repress centromeric meiotic recombination," in PNAS this week. In fission yeast, the team writes, "RNAi functions and histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferase are required for repression of centromeric recombination," and that their results "reveal a complex relation between types of repression by heterochromatin."

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.