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This Week in Science: Jan 25, 2013

In Science this week, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, report on the identification of a transposable element that exists in both humans and fruit flies. The human genome contains around 50 genes derived from transposons, many of which are now vital to cellular gene expression programs. The human gene THAP9 is related to the Drosophila P-element transposase, and the team showed that the gene can mobilize Drosophila P elements in the cells of both humans and flies. The findings confirm that THAP9 is an active DNA transposase that retains the catalytic activity to mobilize P transposable elements across species.

Also this week, Science announces the winner of its Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction, which showcases outstanding materials, usable in a range of institutions and settings, for teaching introductory science courses at the college level. The award goes to Carleton College's Susan Singer and colleagues for the creation of Genomics Explorers, a web-based tool for teaching genomics in plants and animals. For more on this, see this related Daily Scan post.

Meanwhile, in Science Translational Medicine, a research team led by investigators from Johns Hopkins University details a new method to visualize complex genomic data collected from an analysis of DNA methylation changes in prostate cancer tumor samples. Called a "cityscape" plot because of its resemblance to urban skylines, the graph showed that DNA methylation alterations, "despite showing marked inter-individual heterogeneity among men with lethal metastatic prostate cancer, were maintained across all metastases within the same individual." The findings suggest that DNA methylation alterations have "the potential for producing selectable driver events in carcinogenesis and disease progression."

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.