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This Week in Science: Apr 10, 2009

A special section on protein dynamics presents several review articles exploring how protein-protein interactions and protein conformation relate to function. They look at protein signaling, how proteins evolve, how cell-cell and cell-matrix protein interactions contribute to tissue formation and homeostasis, and allosteric interactions in drug discovery and design.

In early online publication, physicians at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have identified compounds that could be "promising candidates" for treating advanced prostate cancer. A screen for nonsteroidal antiandrogens that remain active when there is increased androgen receptor expression turned up two, the diarylthiohydantoins RD162 and MDV3100. In an early-stage clinical trial of 30 patients treated with MDV3100, 13 of 30, or 43 percent, showed greater than 50 percent drop in serum levels of the biomarker prostate specific antigen.

Several papers this week took advantage of sequencing technologies. Over at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics, scientists performed exon sequencing on a patient with pancreatic cancer to find a mutation in PALB2 and verified in 96 other patients that this is a susceptibility gene for pancreatic cancer.

In another, scientists at JGI and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute sequenced the genomes of two microbes belonging to the photosynthetic green algal lineage Micromonas. Of the many surprising things they found, one is that "geographically disparate colonies of the same algae have less in common genetically than, say, humans and chimpanzees, " says a story at SciAm.com. Comparative analysis among other species of algae may help shed light on the evolution of photosynthesis, a related Perspective says.

Finally, UCSF researchers used deep sequencing to watch the process of translation in the budding yeast under different conditions. Their "ribosome-profiling strategy" sequenced ribosome-protected mRNA fragments and found that going from early to late peptide elongation, there was a large decrease in ribosome density and that there was "widespread regulated initiation" at non-adenine-uracil-guanine (AUG) codons.

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.