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This Week in Science: Nov 9, 2013

In Science this week, a multi-institute team of European researchers report on a new technique to study protein folding and unfolding. Called high-speed force spectroscopy, the method was used to unfold and observe the muscle protein tinin, which scientists had previously been unable to visualize fast enough in order to compare the process to high-speed computer simulations. With their method, however, the investigators were able to watch tinin unfolding at approximately four millimeters per second — the lower limit of most simulations.

Also in Science, a group led by University of Massachusetts Medical School investigators provides new insights into the organization of the mitotic chromosome. Noting that the internal organization of these chromosomes has been largely unknown, the scientists applied chromosome conformation-capture methods — 5C and Hi-C — across the cell cycle and revealed two alternative three-dimensional folding states of the human genome. They found that the "highly compartmentalized and cell-type-specific organization" described previously for non-synchronous cells is restricted to interphase. "In metaphase, we identify a homogenous folding state, which is locus-independent, common to all chromosomes, and consistent among cell types, suggesting a general principle of metaphase chromosome organization," the investigators add.

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.