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This Week in Science: Apr 13, 2007

This week’s Science is overrun by macaques. The special section will take you through the rhesus macaque genome, derived from a Macaca mulatta female, and compared to the chimpanzee and human genomes. One report used the data generated and genomic triangulation to estimate what the ancestral human genome looked like before the chimpanzees broke away into their own line. Another studied the composition and evolution of transposable elements in Old World monkeys. Two more reports explore the demographic histories of macaque lineages and the evolution of new centromeres in macaques.

Also featured in a pair of articles is the description and analysis of protein from Tyrannosaurus rex bones found at the Hell Creek formation in Montana. The first paper  theorizes how low doses of collagen I were preserved in 68 million-year-old T. rex bone. The second paper describes the analysis of the protein. Blast searches found that the fearsome T. rex is more of a chicken, with a 58 percent sequence identity, followed by 51 percent matches with both frogs and newts. Our sister publication ProteoMonitor recently sat down for a Q&A with John Asara, who did this mass spec work.

Also online at Science, a genome-wide search of more than 38,000 people came up with a gene associated with higher BMI. People in the study homozygous for this FTO allele were 3 kilograms heavier and had a 1.67 increased risk for obesity than those without this allele. How this version of FTO affects the numbers on the scale is not yet known.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.