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This Week in Science: Sep 24, 2010

In this week's Science, researchers at Caltech and MIT report "a general mechanism for network-dosage compensation in gene circuits," which they've developed using the galactose network as a model. Specifically, the team "combinatorially deleted one of the two copies of its four regulatory genes and found that network activity was robust to the change in network dosage," they write. In their subsequent mathematical analyses, the team saw that a "two-component genetic circuit with elements of opposite regulatory activity (activator and inhibitor) constitutes a minimal requirement for network-dosage invariance" and suggest that network-dosage invariance "could represent a general design for gene network structure in cells."

In Science Translational Medicine this week, researchers in France show that a "minidysferlin" protein — the product of a homozygous deletion at DYSF — facilitates the "efficient repair of sarcolemmal lesions in a mouse model of dysferlinopathy." The team writes that their study shows that a deletion mutant of the dysferlin gene is functional — as was "previously demonstrated in the case of dystrophin" — and suggest that this "minidysferlin protein could be used as part of a therapeutic strategy for patients affected with dysferlinopathies."

A retraction for the 2006 report, "Combinatorial effects of odorant mixes in olfactory cortex," by Zhihua Zou and Linda Buck, a 2004 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, appears in this week's issue of Science. In it, Buck writes that she and Zou "reported that some cortical neurons express Arc in response to a mix of two odorants but not either odorant alone," but that her lab has been unable to reproduce this finding since. She notes that co-author Zou "declined to sign this retraction."

Penn State University's Stephan Schuster is disappointed to have been "scooped" by both Mars Inc.'s cacao tree genome and Illumina's Tasmanian devil genome announcements, according to a news story in Science this week. Schuster "is part of separate groups sequencing both genomes," Elizabeth Pennisi reports. Schuster maintains that "work shouldn't be publicized until after peer review," the reporter adds. "With what happened ... I don't believe in scientific publication anymore," Schuster tells Science. Daily Scan has more here.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.