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This Week in Science: Oct 15, 2010

In a report published online in advance in Science this week, investigators at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their colleagues show that "insertional mutagenesis by the PiggyBac transposon can be used for cancer gene discovery in mice." In their analysis of 63 hematopoietic tumors, the team found that PiggyBac "is capable of genome-wide mutagenesis." In their screen, the Sanger Institute-led team found several cancer genes that were not identified in screens using other retrotranposons, like Sleeping Beauty. Our sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on this study, here.

Also in Science this week, a trio of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reports that Dom34 and Hbs1 interact with "the ribosome to promote subunit dissociation and peptidyl-tRNA drop-off" in yeast. The team suggests that their work implicates a possible "quality-control system functions broadly to recycle ribosomes throughout the translation cycle whenever stalls occur."

Researchers at New York University and Princeton University suggest that "selection at linked sites shapes heritable phenotypic variation in C. elegans" in this week's Science. Leonid Kruglyak and his colleagues report their identification of thousands of quantitative trait loci that affect transcript abundance across two worm strains. Kruglyak et al. suggest that "traits in C. elegans exhibit different levels of variation less because of their own attributes than because of differences in the effective population sizes of the genomic regions harboring their underlying loci."

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Jason Pitt and Adrian Ferré-D’Amaré describe their construction of empirical fitness landscapes for a catalytic RNA using "next-generation sequencing, computational analysis, and 'serial depletion,' an in vitro selection protocol." Pitt and Ferré-D’Amaré suggests that this high-throughput mapping technique may be useful for artificial selections and host-pathogen interactions, among other biological processes.