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This Week in Science: Aug 12, 2011

This week in Science Translational Medicine, the Hospital for Sick Children's Stephen Scherer and his colleagues report their use of million-feature genotyping arrays to identify de novo and rare copy-number variants in 248 unrelated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients. The team found CNVs affecting brain-expressed genes DCLK2, SORCS1, SORCS3, and MACROD2, as well as de novo and rare inherited CNVs previously implicated in other neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorder. Then, to investigate the extent of overlap between ADHD- and autism-associated risk variants, the team "used the same microarrays to test for rare CNVs in an independent, newly collected cohort of 349 unrelated individuals with a primary diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]," it says, finding that "deletions of the neuronal ASTN2 and the ASTN2-intronic TRIM32 genes yielded the strongest association with ADHD and ASD, but numerous other shared candidate genes."

In a paper published online in advance in Science this week, a team led by investigators at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center report their use of X-ray crystallography and 454 pyrosequencing to characterize VRC01-like antibodies derived from HIV-1-infected individuals. "Broadly neutralizing HIV-1 immunity associated with VRC01-like antibodies thus involves the evolution of antibodies to a highly affinity-matured state required to recognize an invariant viral structure, with lineages defined from thousands of sequences providing genetic roadmaps of their development," the NIH-led team writes.

Elsewhere in this week's Science Express, the University of Michigan's Bethany Strunk et al. show that "ribosome assembly factors prevent premature translation initiation by 40S assembly intermediates." The team reports late-binding assembly factors that are "positioned to prevent each step in the translation initiation pathway," obstructing the binding sites of initiation factors, thus preventing the opening of the mRNA channel and disrupting the decoding site.

And in this week's issue, researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and elsewhere describe "an intrinsic, polymorphism-specific property of the β2AR [β2-adrenergic receptor] that alters activation kinetics upon continued stimulation and that may account for individual drug responses." In its paper, the TUM-led team describes polymorphic variants of the β2AR and how they affect activation kinetics.

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.