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This Week in Science: Jun 17, 2011

In this week's Science, the University of Rochester's Zhiyong Mao et al. show that, "in mammalian cells subjected to oxidative stress, SIRT6 is recruited to the sites of DNA double-strand breaks and stimulates double-strand break repair through both non-homologous end-joining and homologous recombination." In its paper, the team shows that the protein physically associated with PARP1, mono-ADP-ribosylating it on lysine residue 521, "thereby stimulating PARP1 poly-ADP-ribosylase activity and enhancing DSB repair under oxidative stress."

Science's Elizabeth Pennisi reports on advances in plant genomics. "Sequenced plant genomes cover a billion years of evolution," she says. In speaking with Pennsylvania State University's Claude dePamphilis and other plant genomicists, Pennisi explores research on evolutionary shifts among plant species. "In number and types of genes, the most dramatic change was what was acquired to move onto land," dePamphilis — who is leading an effort to sequence the angiosperm Amborella — tells her.

Over in Science Translational Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine's Richard Gibbs and his colleagues report their use of whole-genome sequencing to identify compound heterozygous mutations in the SPR gene in a fraternal twin pair affected by dopa (3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine)-responsive dystonia. The team's genomic findings guided physicians' clinical management of the twins. "Supplementation of L-dopa therapy with 5-hydroxytryptophan, a serotonin precursor, resulted in clinical improvements in both," Gibbs et al. write. Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study.

In a Perspectives piece that accompanies the Gibbs et al. paper, the National Center for Genome Resources' Stephen Kingsmore and the Children's Mercy Hospital's Carol Saunders wonder when whole-genome sequencing might become routine for clinical diagnostic purposes, particularly as it "may clear ... [the current] financial hurdle in the near future."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.