Skip to main content

This Week in Science: Dec 22, 2012

In this week's Science, a team of researchers led by investigators from the University of Copenhagen report on a genomic analysis of two species of bats, the only mammals capable of sustained flight and hosts for highly pathogenic viruses. Combining whole-genome sequencing and comparative analyses of the fruit bat Pteropus alecto and insectivorous Myotis davidii , the scientists discovered an unexpected concentration of positively selected genes in the DNA damage checkpoint and nuclear factor-κB pathways, which may have helped the animals develop the ability to fly. They also pinpointed immune system-related genes that have been lost or are under selection, giving clues as to why bats may harbor disease.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.

Also in Science, research groups led by Harvard University investigators publish the results of two genome sequencing studies conducted on individual cells, which can be used to uncover cell-to-cell differences that may provide new insights into biological processes. The scientists used a new amplification method — called multiple annealing and looping-based amplification cycles, or MALBAC — and in one study achieved 93 percent genome coverage for a single human cell, allowing for the detection of small mutations. In the other, 99 sperm cells from a single individual were sequenced to reveal that recombination events tend to occur away from transcription site starts.

The Scan

Rise of B.1.617.2 in the UK

According to the Guardian, UK officials expect the B.1.617.2 variant to soon be the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 there.

Anne Schuchat to Retire

Anne Schuchat is retiring after more than 30 years at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Politico reports.

US to Share More Vaccines

CNN reports that the US will share 20 million doses of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines with other countries.

PNAS Papers on Gene Therapy Platform, Aspergillus Metabolome, Undernutrition Model Microbiome

In PNAS this week: approach to deliver protein-based treatments to cells, pan-secondary metabolome of Aspergillus, and more.