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This Week in Science: Apr 5, 2013

In Science this week, researchers from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Oxford report on the discovery that transposons are more mobile in certain neurons than others in the Drosophila brain. Fly cells typically use the piwi-interacting proteins Aubergine and Argonaute 3 to suppress transposable elements. However, in mushroom body neurons, where transposon expression is more abundant, these two proteins are less abundant. The team suggests that the greater level of transposons in this part of the brain helps ensure genomic heterogeneity.

Also in Science, investigators from the UK's Medical Research Council present a paper indicating that translational inhibition is the primary event required for microRNA-mediated mRNA degradation, and that the process relies on impairing the function of the eIF4F initiation complex. Additionally, the scientists report a "correlation between the presence of miRNA target sites in the 3' untranslated region of mRNAs and secondary structure in the 5' UTR and show that mRNAs with unstructured 5' UTRs are refractory to miRNA repression."

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.