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This Week in Science: Nov 2, 2007

In the news section this week, Science focuses on the dispute between glycobiologists and the nutraceutical company Mannatech. Ronald Schnaar and Hudson Freeze wrote an editorial for Glycobiology in which they critiqued Mannatech's educational website (parts of it were labeled "peer-reviewed"), saying Mannatech took real glycobiology findings and "mixed [them] with speculation about the potential of glyconutrients to positively impact" diseases and conditions. Mannatech supporters say critics unjustly write off complementary medicine.

The second installment of Science's gonzo scientist series goes to Sweden for a three-day celebration of Linnaeus' 300th birthday. John Bohannon spent those days listening to lectures on food and eating 18th century style, just as did Linnaeus, who apparently had the 18th century version of a foodie reputation. "Our first dinner was designed to match what Linnaeus enjoyed. In both flavor and appearance, the dishes were painted in primary colors," writes Bohannon, continuing on to describe a luscious meal.

A few years ago, Takao Kondo's group found that when three proteins (KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC) purified from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongates were mixed with a source of phosphate, the proteins' phosphorylation states oscillated similar to the bacteria's natural circadian rhythm, says this Perspectives article. Two new papers now shed a bit more light onto how that clock works. The Kondo group reports in EMBO that each product of the phosphorylation cycle regulates the next reaction. They also saw that a double phosphorylation converts KaiC from an autokinase to an autophosphatase and a dephosphorylation undoes it. In Science, Erin O'Shea led a group to find that one of the phosophoforms creates a feedback loop by working through KaiB to inhibit KaiA.

 

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.