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This Week in Science: Jun 1, 2013

In this week's Science, an international team of researchers report on the identification of genetic variants associated with the amount of school completed by Caucasian individuals. The scientists conducted a genome-wide association study and found three mutations at specific parts of the genome that appeared to correlate with educational attainment. The loci only account for roughly two percent of the variation observed between a person's DNA and education level, but provide "promising" candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms for follow-up work, the investigators say.

Also in Science, Weizmann Institute of Science investigator Michal Sharon argues that mass spectrometry is widely being undervalued as a structural biology tool. Though commonly used for protein identification, posttranscriptional modification, and quantification, structural MS has much greater potential, he says. Some studies have used the technology to obtain quaternary data on protein complexes, for example, and it is ideal for studying multi-subunit complexes embedded in membranes. Meanwhile, combining MS with other techniques can yield a complete description of protein molecule assembly, and allow for the study of systems that cannot be characterized by single technology approaches.