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This Week in Science: Mar 7, 2008

A news item looks into all the maize genome drafts out there -- three were published last week -- and this crop has growing importance in biofuel research. With $30 million, a consortium headed by Richard Wilson at Washington University is working on the B73 maize strain, Mexico's Jean-Philippe Vielle-Calzada has $9.1 million from the Mexican government to sequence a native, high altitude "popcorn" strain, and Daniel Rokhsar is looking at Mo17.

A Perspectives article delves into the function of tails on the ends of RNA. Most tails are poly-A tails but sometimes poly-U tails are added, writes the University of Wisconsin's Marvin Wickens and Jae Eun Kwak. These poly-U tails are added to RNAs that work in RNA editing and to some microRNAs and small nuclear RNAs. Other functions are emerging, they write; for instance, a poly-U tail can trigger an mRNA's decay and, they suspect, more.

An editorial looks at how the internet is shifting the scientific method. In this "Science 2.0," writes Ben Shneiderman, researchers are building on web tools, online social networks, and being more creative. He also says this will spur innovative researchers to lead the way with case studies and new predictive models. (In the spirit of everything 2.0, Wired is asking readers what they think.)

A review goes over how double-stranded DNA breaks can result in precancerous lesions and cancers. Recent findings, the authors write, show that some activated oncogenes can stall and collapse DNA replication forks, which then leads to double-stranded breaks in the DNA and overall genomic instability. The authors also note that these breaks activate p53, but that pathway to apoptosis is often also mutated in cancers.

This week's edition also contains the print version of deCode Genetics's study on recombination rates. First published online at the end of January, this study identified a sequence variant, 4p16.3, that is associated with rate of recombination.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.