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This Week in Science: Apr 24, 2009

An editorial from Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences, says that scientists will have to do their part to keep enthusiasm for science on the upswing in this country. "Scientists must do much more to show how science works and how scientific research contributes to the nation," he writes.

In news this week, Science reports its own "unusual decision" to retract a 2005 paper "without the agreement of all the authors." The paper, from scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and CGK, described an approach "to identify drug targets by tracking protein movements in live cells." An investigation revealed that "although the technique might be valid, data in the paper were fabricated," the article says. The official retraction can be found here.

The major paper this week is the publication of the cow genome (noted in the New York Times here). Sequenced to some sevenfold coverage, the genome contains at least "22,000 genes, with a core set of 14,345 orthologs shared among seven mammalian species," the Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium reports. A Perspectives piece from Harris Lewin calls the publication "a major milestone in animal genetics" and discusses the importance of livestock research. Check out full bovine publication coverage at our sister site, GenomeWeb Daily News.

Meantime, the Bovine HapMap Consortium describes a genome-wide look at SNP variation associated with different breeds of cattle. "These data show that cattle have undergone a rapid recent decrease in effective population size from a very large ancestral population, possibly due to bottlenecks associated with domestication, selection, and breed formation," the authors write. In a policy forum report, researchers take the opportunity to note that there's not enough research funding targeted at studies of farm animals.

Researchers at EMBL and other institutions used X-ray crystallography and mutational analysis to study polyphosphate (polyP), which occurs in all organisms but whose function has been unclear. Hothorn et al. "identified a eukaryotic polyphosphate polymerase within the membrane-integral vacuolar transporter chaperone (VTC) complex," according to the abstract. "Identification of the polyP-synthesizing enzyme opens the way to determine the functions of polyP in lower eukaryotes."

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.