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This Week in Science: May 30, 2008

The Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center and 23andMe will be starting a study to see if Parkinson's disease can be assessed via the Web. The company will be designing and adapting a questionnaire to be filled out online by the patients, to see if their health and health history can be accurately gauged this way. The participants will also be giving saliva samples to 23andMe to be sequenced and then matched to their online responses. "We want to build this engine basically to be able to power genomewide association studies," says Linda Avey, whose company also plans to use this strategy for other diseases.

DNA from Paleo-Eskimos, people who lived in the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland about 4500 years ago, shows that they are neither descendants of the Asian people who crossed the Bering Strait and became Native Americans, nor are they the ancestors of modern Eskimos. By sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of a clump of hair from a Paleo-Eskimo in Greenland (the hair was frozen in permafrost) and comparing it to Neo-Eskimos, who arrived 1000 years ago, and to modern Native Americans, the researchers saw it contained a rare marker, D2a1, which is not present in any of the other groups, nor in the Europeans that collected the sample. This marker is similar to D2a1a, found in Aleuts and Siberian Eskimos of the Commander Islands, suggesting that the Paleo-Eskimos came from that region.

Researchers led by Olivier Voinnet studied Arabidopsis mutants that have defective miRNA action. From this, they report that the miRNA and siRNA-mediated silencing in plants is separate from the endonucleolytic cleavage. Translational repression is by AGO1 and AGO10, along with katanin, a microtubule-severing enzyme, and VCS/Ge1, a decapping component.


The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.