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This Week in Science: Aug 28, 2009

In early online publication in Science, scientists led by Edouard Cadieu and Elaine Ostrander at NHGRI have used GWAS to pinpoint three genes that lend diversity to dog fur. They scanned the genome of more than 1,000 purebred dogs from 80 breeds found in the US and discovered mutations in three genes — RSPO2, FGF5, and KRT71 — that are "linked to fur length, curliness and growth pattern (bushy eyebrows, beards and other features that dog breeders refer to as furnishings)," says a New York Times story.

Also in early online, Beijing Genomics Institute scientists led an international team of researchers who have resequenced silkworm genomes to create a "genetic variation map." Sequencing the genomes of 40 different domesticated and wild silkworms, they found about 16 million SNPs, along with many indels and structural variation. They show that while different from wild worms, domesticated ones "have maintained large levels of genetic variability," providing insight into how the domesticated Bombyx mori evolved from the wild silkworm, B. mandarina, over roughly 5,000 years, says a related story at our sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News.

In a paper out of George Church's lab led by Morten Sommer and Gautam Dantas, the scientists studied how bacterial pathogens acquire antibiotic resistance genes. They sequenced human gut microflora to find many new antibiotic resistance genes — when they put these into E.coli, it became resistant to a range of drugs. By contrast, they write, "nearly half of the resistance genes we identified in cultured aerobic gut isolates ... are identical to resistance genes harbored by major pathogens."

Jared Rutter at the University of Utah School of Medicine led a study that looked to the yeast mitochondrial proteome for clues about the connection between mitochondrial function and disease. Using a combination of bioinformatics and genetics techniques, the team showed that a previously uncharacterized mitochondrial protein, Sdh5, is required for the activity of respiratory complex II. They also found loss of function mutations in the Sdh5 gene in people with hereditary paraganglioma, a neuroendocrine tumor. "Thus, a mitochondrial proteomics analysis in yeast has led to the discovery of a human tumor susceptibility gene," they write.

The Scan

Vaccine Update Recommended

A US Food and Drug Administration panel recommends booster vaccines be updated to target Omicron, CNBC reports.

US to Make More Vaccines for Monkeypox Available

The US is to make nearly 300,000 vaccine doses available in the coming weeks to stem the spread of human monkeypox virus, according to NPR.

Sentence Appealed

The Associated Press reports that Swedish prosecutors are appealing the sentence given to a surgeon once lauded for transplanting synthetic tracheas but then convicted of causing bodily harm.

Genome Biology Papers on COVID-19 Effector Genes, Virtual ChIP-seq, scDART

In Genome Biology this week: proposed COVID-19 effector genes, method to predict transcription factor binding patterns, and more.