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This Week in Science: Aug 21, 2009

In early online publication in Science, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute led by Sanjay Vashee report cloning a bacterial genome in yeast. Their work cloned a modified Mycoplasma mycoides genome inside a yeast cell as a plasmid, and then transferred that to a Mycoplama capricolum and watched it divide into a viable M. mycoides cell. In order to protect it from being degraded by the recipient bacteria's immune system, "[they] modified the original genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides, whilst it was inside the yeast cell," says a BBC story. "Then they either attached methyl groups to it, or inactivated the restriction enzyme of the recipient bacterium, before transplanting the genome into its new cell." The work gets the field one step closer to a fully synthetic life form, adds a post at SciAm's 60-Second Science.

An editorial by Wieland Gevers at the University of Cape Town makes the case for globalizing science publishing, especially in Africa. There, he says, many scientists remain outside the established scientific publishing system, "exacerbating the low international recognition and impact of their accomplishments." The situation can be helped by encouraging publishing in local journals and indexing those so they are digitally accessible, he says.

Two papers delve into the regulation of follicular T helper cell differentiation. Follicular T helper cells are one subset of CD4+ T cells, which help B cells respond to an infection by secreting antibodies. In work from Chen Dong and Roza Nurieva at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, measuring Bcl6 expression using qRT-PCR showed that this transcription factor is needed to differentiate follicular T helper cells.

A complementary paper from La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology's Shane Crotty used gene expression microarrays to show that Bcl6 was up-regulated in follicular T helper cells and Blimp-1 was the most down-regulated transcription factor. "These findings demonstrate that [follicular T helper] cells are required for proper B cell responses in vivo and that Bcl6 and Blimp-1 play central but opposing roles in [follicular T helper] differentiation." A perspective offers more.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.