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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

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.