Harvard's Pardis Sabeti -- researcher, role model, and rock star -- is profiled in this issue of Science. Sabeti has quickly become visible in her field because of a knack for hard work, raising money, and reaching out to the community, as well as being a pretty good singer. Currently, she is working on uncovering evidence of selection in the human genome in relation to susceptibility to Lassa fever.
In a perspectives article, University of Southern California researchers discuss the role of RNA polymerase III in cancerous cell transformation. Drawing on a recent study in Cell, the authors write, "Although transcription initiation factors, such as TBP and Brf1, may not be oncogenes in the traditional sense in that they do not necessarily need to be mutated to become oncogenic, it is clear that they serve as critical sites for integrating signals emanating from oncogenic stimuli."
A team of researchers used molecular phylogenetics to report that Tyrannosaurus rex is indeed more closely related to modern-day birds than reptiles and that mastodons are related to modern elephants. They extracted collagen proteins from T. rex and Mammut americanum fossil bones and compared them to extant organisms, including alligators, ostriches, elephants, tenrecs, and green anoles. "There is more than a 90 percent probability that the grouping of T. rex with living birds is real," senior author John Asara told the New York Times.
Science also has a special section on plant genomics this week that includes recent news on GM crops, with golden rice, grape genomes, and biofuels. There's also half a dozen or so perspectives articles covering plant metabolism, genomic plasticity in plants, epigenetics, and much more.