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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

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.