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This Week in Science: Nov 4, 2011

Researchers in Seoul this week show that "the pyrroloquinoline quinine-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase activity of a commensal bacterium Acetobacter pomorum modulates insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling in Drosophila to regulate host homeostatic programs controlling developmental rate, body size, energy metabolism, and intestinal stem cell activity." The team shows that germ-free flies that are monoassociated with pyrroloquinoline quinine-dependent, alcohol dehydrogenase-mutant bacteria show "severe deregulation of developmental and metabolic homeostasis," which they add is reversible when host insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling is enhanced or when the flies' diets are supplemented with acetic acid.

Elsewhere in this week's Science, a team led by investigators at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology shows that the Drosohpila centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENH3 "is sufficient for centromere formation" and identity.

Science this week lauds PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel following his recent announcement to "fund 'revolutionary' science by do-it-yourself scientists and those with start-up companies that aren't far enough along to attract venture capital." Science says that through breakoutlabs.org, Thiel intends to "make 10 to 20 awards in the first year, ranging from around $50,000 to $350,000," with the stipulation that grantees publish their results in open-access journals.

Over in Science Translational Medicine, Columbia University's Amir Levine and his colleagues show that in mice, "nicotine primed the response to cocaine by enhancing its ability to induce transcriptional activation of the FosB gene through inhibition of histone deacetylase, which caused global histone acetylation in the striatum." Levine et al. say their findings in mice provide a molecular mechanism for the "gateway drug" concept.

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.