In Science this week, Duke University's Robert Cook-Deegan, a professor of genome ethics, law, and policy, provides historical context for the controversy over the patentability of individual genes with DNA sequences found in nature. While a Federal Appeals Court recently ruled that mapped DNA sequences in which there has been some human intervention stem from invention and not discovery, Cook-Deegan notes that the ultimate decision rests with the US Supreme Court.
Also in Science, researchers from Stanford University report on the development of a new method to control protein activity using light. Fluorescent proteins are widely used as optical sensors for protein activation, but using them to control that activity has been a challenge. Using a mutant form of the Dronpa protein, the Stanford team created a light-inducible protein design in which Dronpa domains are fused to both termini of an enzyme domain. In the dark, the domains associate and cage the protein, while in light they break apart and the enzyme becomes active.