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This Week in Science: Mar 13, 2009

In news, Science discusses the impact of President Obama's executive order that lifts federal stem cell research restrictions. The order will encourage more scientists to perform hES cell research, though others say with the advent of iPS cells, the move may have "value as primarily symbolic." Obama has given NIH 120 days to come up with guidelines for hES cell use.

How England is allocating its research funds is drawing the ire of the top English research institutes. Imperial College London, Cambridge University, and Southampton University are seeing decreases in their funding or increases that don't keep pace with inflation. On the other hand, newer English universities, such as Nottingham University and Queen Mary, University of London, are seeing large increases in their funds. "Britain can't sustain 101 internationally competitive universities. If it's going to compete it's got to concentrate its resources," says Roy Anderson, rector of Imperial College.

China's National Laboratory of Protein Science is being built up in the spirit of HHMI's Janelia Farm, says Science. Scientists at the lab will have a salary and grants. Two-thirds of them will work at the institute and the rest at their home academic institutions, just like HHMI. Its budget will be about $60 million a year. Also under development is a National Core Facility for Protein Sciences that will focus on proteomics and related sciences.

Steve Kay and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, took a functional genomics approach to study the circadian clock of Arabidopsis, which is regulated by a feedback loop in which CCA1 can repress TOC1, but TOC1 cannot directly regulate CCA1. They used a yeast one-hybrid system to screen transcription factors to see if they would bind to CCA1/LHY (another TOC1 regulator) regulatory regions. They did so in a high-throughput way that they termed "promoter hiking" that tested several tiled fragment for each promoter. They then created a library of circadian-regulated transcription factors and identified one, called CCA1 hiking expedition or CHE, that binds to the TCP-binding site of the CCA1 promoter fragment but not to any LHY promoters.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.