Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Science: Nov 28, 2009

Science explores how the stimulus bill has affected research in the US. For NIH, this article says, the stimulus has been a windfall of funds, but many people are holding their breaths for what will occur when the two years are up. "We will have built [more] capacity; we will have hired people," says Steven Fluharty, vice provost for research at the University of Pennsylvania. "How will those jobs be maintained?" At NSF, this article adds, grant application success rates went up with the influx of stimulus funds. Again, however, that increase may not be maintained if the proposed doubling, over 10 years, of NSF's budget doesn't come through. "It's happened so many times in the past that the scientific community has come up short," Michael Lubell from the American Physical Society says.

Japanese researchers report on the structure of the pre-miRNA nuclear export complex. They show the 2.9 angstrom-resolution structure of Exp-5:RanGTP:pre-miRNA complex which they find is an ellipsoid measuring 65 Å by 80 Å by 110 Å. They add that the Exp-5:RanGTP looks a bit like a baseball mitt that the pre-miRNA then fits into. A tunnel at the bottom of the mitt connects the two spaces. A related perspective article adds that this process differs from how tRNAs are shuttled out of the nucleus.

Arul Chinnaiyan's group writes that about half of human prostate cancers include a gene fusion of TMPRSS2 and ERG. TMPRSS2 is an androgen-regulated gene and ERG encodes an erythroblast transformation–specific transcription factor. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization, Chinnaiyan's lab shows that "androgen signaling induces proximity of the TMPRSS2 and ERG genomic loci" and that gamma irridation "facilitates the formation of the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion." This, they write, "may help explain why TMPRSS2-ERG fusions are restricted to the prostate, which is dependent on androgen signaling."

A series of articles look at the impact of reduced genome size on proteome organization, transcriptome complexity, and metabolism. The researchers, led by Luis Serrano, Peer Bork, and Anne-Claude Gavin, studied the genome of Mycoplasma pneumoniae. In one paper, they report how they used a tandem affinity purification–mass spectrometry approach to find 62 homomultimeric and 116 heteromultimeric soluble protein complexes. This, they write, "provides a blueprint of the minimal cellular machinery required for life."

Then in another paper, they describe how they used tiling arrays and transcriptome sequencing to uncover 117 previously undescribed genes in Mycoplasma pneumoniae and to identify 341 operons, which, under different conditions may give alternative transcripts and which implies "a highly dynamic transcriptome."

Finally, they also studied the metabolism of the bacterium, looking at growth curves and various measures of metabolites. "The coordinated changes in gene expression along the growth curve, the specific responses to many various metabolic perturbations, and the adaptability of the cells to various carbon sources indicate that M. pneumoniae retains some robustness and adaptability despite its extreme genome reduction," the authors report.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.