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This Week in Science: Nov 11, 2011

In Science this week, a team led by researchers at University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that in the mammalian genome, genome-wide demethylation followed by de novo methylation initiates "a pattern inherited throughout development and modified only at tissue-specific loci." The UMass Med-led team reports on its in vivo investigation of methylation in differentiating mouse erythroblasts using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. They found that "global demethylation was continuous throughout differentiation and required rapid DNA replication," and that this demethylation occurs "globally during somatic cell differentiation, providing an experimental model for its study in development and disease."

MIT's Phillip Sharp and his colleagues show that "tRNAs marked with CCACCA are targeted for degradation." More specifically, Sharp et al. show that "the CCA-adding enzyme plays a key role in tRNA quality control by selectively marking structurally unstable tRNAs and tRNA-like small RNAs for degradation."

This week, AAAS CEO and Science publisher Alan Leshner discusses "rethinking the science system" in the US amid increasing budgetary concerns. Leshner says that "there is a strong case for maintaining investments in S&T [science and technology] as a foundation for long-term economic growth and social well-being," but that when resources are constrained "it is essential that they be used effectively and efficiently to avoid losing scientific momentum and to ensure that society will benefit maximally from S&T's potential." Overall, Leshner editorializes that "the scientific community cannot afford to simply adapt passively to reduced budgets."

And Science’s Eliot Marshall says that in tough times, federal agencies having to set funding priorities "has never been fun." Marshall speaks with lobbyists in Washington, DC, who he says are "spending every free moment talking up the importance of research to friends and acquaintances on Capitol Hill" because "there still is no national framework for allocating R&D spending."

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.