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This Week in Science: Jun 15, 2012

In a report published online in advance in Science this week, University of Cambridge's Eric Miska and his colleagues discuss the roles of piwi-interacting RNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans. "Our data suggest that nematode piRNA clusters are evolving to generate piRNAs against active mobile elements," Miska et al. write. "Thus, piRNAs provide heritable, sequence-specific triggers for RNAi in C. elegans."

Over in Science Translational Medicine, an international team led by investigators at the University of California, San Diego, reports having performed whole-exome sequencing on 118 individuals diagnosed with pediatric-onset neurodevelopmental disease of unknown cause. The team says it identified 22 new genes that were not previously identified as disease-causing, including EXOC8 in Joubert syndrome and GFM2 in a patient with microcephaly and insulin-dependent diabetes. Overall, the team says its data "provide proof of principle that genomic strategies are useful in clarifying diagnosis in a proportion of patients with neurodevelopmental disorders."

And in this week's issue of Science, Harvard Medical School's Jeremy Purvis and his colleagues "show that protein dynamics can be an important part of a signal, directly influencing cellular fate decisions," referring, specifically, to p53 dynamics. In its paper, the Harvard team also shows that "cells that experience p53 pulses recover from DNA damage, whereas cells exposed to sustained p53 signaling frequently undergo senescence," it writes.