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This Week in Science: Mar 4, 2011

In a paper published online in advance in Science this week, Matthias Fischer and Curtis Suttle at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver report on a virophage that they say "represents an evolutionary link between double-stranded DNA viruses and Maverick/Polinton eukaryotic DNA transposons." They suggest that these transposons "may have originated from ancient realtives of Mavivirus," although they say they have not ruled out "alternative evolutionary scenarios."

An international research team led by investigators at the John Innes Center in Norwich, UK, shows in this week's issue of Science that sulforaphane "inhibits growth in Arabidopsis of non-host Pseudomonas [sax] bacteria in planta." Additionally, the team identifies sax genes — saxCAB/F/D/G — which are virulent on Arabidopsis, that "are required to overwhelm isothiocyanate-based defenses and facilitate a disease outcome, especially in the young leaves critical for plant survival," it writes. Further, in their experimental maniupalations, the researchers found that introducing saxCAB genes to non-host strains "enabled them to overcome these Arabidopsis defenses."

Over in Science Translational Medicine, the University of Michigan's Arul Chinnaiyan and his colleagues "provide a rationale for both the development of humanized mAbs [monoclonal antibodies] to SPINK1 and [the] evaluation of EGFR inhibition in SPINK1/ETC prostate cancers," given their in vitro analyses and xenograft assays. In particular, the team found that the "administration of antibodies to SPINK1 or EGFR (cetuximab) in mice bearing 22RV1 xenografts attenuated tumor growth by more than 60 and 40 percent, respectively, or [approximately] 75 percent when combined, without affecting PC3 xenograft (SPINK1/ETS) growth."

A public-private collaboration among investigators at Genzyme, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Isis Pharmaceuticals, and Harvard Medical School this week reports that injection of a 2′-O-2-methoxyethyl-modified antisense oligonucleotide into the cerebral lateral ventricles of mice with severe spinary muscular atrophy leads to "improvements in muscle physiology, motor function, and survival." The team suggests that "central nervous system-directed ASO therapy is efficacious and that intrathecal infusion may represent a practical route for delivering this therapeutic in the clinic."

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.