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This Week in Science: Jun 5, 2009

In this week's issue of Science, Swiss scientists checked into how the Hox genes might be regulated by epigenetics. They showed that the temporal, colinear activation of these developmentally important genes is "closely associated" with progressive chromatin changes. The results, they say, suggest that "chromatin modifications are important parameters in the temporal regulation of this gene family," and moreover, that the so-called Hox clock could be controlled by epigenetics.

Miami Institute of Molecular Imaging and Computation researchers used a genetically encoded molecular bioprobe in Drosophila to study patterns of Cdc42 activation within cells and tissues. Their study revealed that Cdc42 GTPase remains inactive within Drosophila embryos during the first two-thirds of embryogenesis and that at the level of both organism and cell, "Cdc42's endogenous activation patterns in the wild type allow predictions of where loss-of-function phenotypes will emerge in cdc42/cdc42 mutants," they say in the abstract.

In early online, Scripps's Jiahuai Han led work that used microarrays and RNAi with siRNAs to find a protein that acts as a switch between two different types of cell death. The protein kinase RIP3, they found, acts as molecular switch between TNF-induced apoptosis and necrosis in NIH3T3 cells and is required for necrosis in other cells, they say. Importantly, they saw that certain metabolic enzymes affect RIP3’s ability to promote necrosis.

Finally, Jeffrey Mervis writes that a new report by the US National Academies says that women are, actually, treated fairly by major research universities when it comes to hiring, promotion, and access to resources; however, they choose to be passive, thus damaging their chances. "Too many scientifically trained women are rejecting academia in favor of other career paths," he writes.

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.