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This Week in Science : Jul 22, 2011

In Science this week, Boston University School of Public Health's Paola Sebastiani and her colleagues retract their July 2010 paper, "Genetic signatures of exceptional longevity in humans." After accounting for technical errors and an inadequate quality control protocol, the "specific details of the new analysis change substantially from those originally published online to the point of becoming a new report." In their retraction, Sebastiani et al. say they plan to "pursue alternative publication of the new findings" from their reduced set of longevity-associated SNPs.

Elsewhere, the Baylor College of Medicine's Shigenori Hirose et al. show that the social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum discriminates its kin via a "matching pair of tgrB1 and tgrC1 alleles." The self-recognition and differential cell-cell adhesion that this pair mediates represents a "genetically tractable ancient model of eukaryotic self-recognition," the authors write. "We propose that TgrB1 and TgrC1 proteins mediate this adhesion through direct binding," they add in this week's Science.

A team led by Harvard Medical School's Camille Delebecque describes multi-dimensional RNA structures it designed and assembled into "discrete, one-dimensional, and two-dimensional scaffolds with distinct protein-docking sites … used to control the spatial organization of a hydrogen-producing pathway" and, thus, bacterial metabolism. Further, the team reports its increase of "hydrogen output as a function of scaffold architecture." In a related news story, Science's Kate Thodey and Christina Smolke say of this study: "Delebecque et al. demonstrate an exciting role for these nanostructures in engineered biosynthetic pathways."

This week in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere report on a common sequence variant in the defensin DEFB126 that leads to an altered sperm glycocalyx, and causes impaired sperm function and reduced fertility. The team also reports results from its prospective cohort study of newly married couples who were trying to conceive, and say they found that those couples in which the male partner was homozygous for the variant sequence "were less likely to become pregnant and took longer to achieve a live birth."

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.