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This Week in Science : Jul 29, 2011

In a paper published online in advance in Science this week, a team led by investigators at the Broad Institute reports its analysis of whole-exome sequencing data from 74 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma tumor-normal pairs. The team found that more than 30 percent of the cases "harbored mutations in genes that regulate squamous differentiation, implicating its dysregulation as a major driver of HNSCC carcinogenesis."

In a related paper, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and elsewhere report their use of whole-exome sequencing and gene copy number analyses to characterize 32 primary HNSCC tumors. Our sister blog Cancer Minute has more on the team's findings.

In this week's issue, a trio of investigators at New York's Weill Cornell Medical College reports its "generation of RNA aptamers that bind fluorophores resembling the fluorophore in GFP [green fluorescent protein]." The researchers show that their "RNA-fluorophore complexes create a palette that spans the visible spectrum," they write in Science, adding that one such complex, called Spinach, "resembles enhanced GFP and emits a green fluorescence comparable in brightness with fluorescent proteins."

Over in Science Signaling, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Texas A&M University show that the Drosophila melanogaster proteome contains more than 1,981 lysine acetylation sites, some of which are conserved across multiple species. "Comparison of lysine conservation in Drosophila and humans with that in nematodes and zebrafish revealed that acetylated lysines were significantly more conserved than were non-acetylated lysines," the Copenhagen-led team writes, adding that its systematic, interspecific comparative 'acetylome' analysis suggests "phosphorylation sites may have evolved faster than acetylation sites."