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This Week in Science: Dec 2, 2011

In Science this week, researchers in the US and Sweden find functional links between beta-amyloid peptide toxicity and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease by modeling Aβ toxicity in yeast. A genome-wide screen for toxicity modifiers identified the yeast homolog of phosphatidylinositol binding clathrin assembly protein and other factors connected to Alzheimer's that had not previously been connected to Aβ toxicity. "The factors identified in yeast modified Aβ toxicity in glutamatergic neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans and in primary rat cortical neurons," the authors write. "In yeast, Aβ impaired the endocytic trafficking of a plasma membrane receptor, which was ameliorated by endocytic pathway factors identified in the yeast screen."

In Science Signaling this week, researchers in the UK use a targeted siRNA screen to identify regulators of Cdc42 activity at the natural killer cell immunological synapse. The team observed that live natural killer cells forming immunological synapses with target cells show oscillating Cdc42 activity, after an initial increase in activity. "We used protein-protein interaction networks and structural databases to identify candidate proteins that controlled Cdc42 activity, leading to the design of a targeted short interfering RNA screen," the team says. "The guanine nucleotide exchange factors RhoGEF6 and RhoGEF7 were necessary for Cdc42 activation within the NK cell immunological synapse. In addition, the kinase Akt and the p85α subunit of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) were required for Cdc42 activation, the periodicity of the oscillation in Cdc42 activity, and the subsequent polarization of cytotoxic vesicles toward target cells."

In Science Translational Medicine this week, researchers in the US and Canada report their discovery that the PDL1-PD1 axis converts human TH1 cells into regulatory T cells. The team observed that conventional T cells or irradiated K562 myeloid tumor cells that over-expressed PDL1 converted TBET+ TH1 cells into FOXP3+ regulatory T cells in vivo. "Either blocking PD1 expression on TH1 cells by small interfering RNA targeting or abrogation of PD1 signaling by SHP1/2 pharmacologic inhibition stabilized TH1 cell differentiation during PDL1 challenge and restored the capacity of TH1 cells to mediate lethal xGVHD," the authors write.

Also in Science Translational Medicine this week, researchers in the US and India report the results of a pilot study of integrative high-throughput sequencing as a tool for personalized oncology. The team enrolled patients with advanced or refractory cancer, and performed whole-genome sequencing of the tumor, targeted whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal DNA, and transcriptome sequencing of the tumor to identify mutations in a clinically relevant time frame, three to four weeks. "With this approach, we detected several classes of cancer mutations including structural rearrangements, copy number alterations, point mutations, and gene expression alterations," the authors write. "Integrative high-throughput sequencing of patients with advanced cancer generates a comprehensive, individual mutational landscape to facilitate biomarker-driven clinical trials in oncology."

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.