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This Week in Science: Jan 6, 2012

In a paper published online in advance in Science this week, the University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus' Sandra Garrett and Joshua Rosenthal show that extensive mRNA editing "underlies temperature adaptation in K+ channels from polar octopuses." The team found that one particular mRNA editing site, which recodes an isoleucine to a valine in the ion channel's pore, "greatly accelerates gating kinetics by destabilizing the open state," in both Antarctic and Arctic species.

Elsewhere, an international team led by investigators at China's Tsinghua University reports crystal structures for an 11.5-repeat TAL effector in both DNA-free and DNA-bound states, presenting structural evidence for "DNA recognition by TAL effectors."

In a related, but separate study, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Iowa State University report a crystal structure for the TAL effector PthXo1 bound to its DNA target. "Containing several RVDs [repeat variable diresidues] and non-canonical associations, the structure illustrates the basis of TAL effector-DNA recognition," the authors write.

Over in Science Careers, Beryl Lieff Benderly this week follows what she called "academia's crooked money trail," reviewing Georgia State University economist Paula Stephan's new book, How Economics Shapes Science. "If you want to understand what is really happening in American academic science today, here's my advice: Read this enlightening book," Benderly says.

The Scan

CDC Calls Delta "Variant of Concern"

CNN reports the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to be a "variant of concern."

From FDA to Venture Capital

Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is taking a position at a venture capital firm, leading some ethicists to raise eyebrows, according to the Washington Post.

Consent Questions

Nature News writes that there are questions whether informed consent was obtained for some submissions to a database of Y-chromosome profiles.

Cell Studies on Multimodal Single-Cell Analysis, Coronaviruses in Bats, Urban Microbiomes

In Cell this week: approach to analyze multimodal single-cell genomic data, analysis of bat coronaviruses, and more.