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This Week in Science: Nov 7, 2008

Today's Science has a special section and articles galore on the link between genetics and behavior. An editorial tackles the "multicomponent" nature of neural circuits while several reviews explore the interaction of social information and gene expression in the brain, how oxytocin and vasopressin genetic variation contribute to receptor differences, and the genetic basis of mating behavior. A perspective looks at the history of using forward genetic screens to explore the genetics behind the circadian clock in Drosophila and mouse, while a policy forum article checks in on the Human Variome Project.

A news story reports on last week's NHGRI meeting, where about 40 scientists and ethicists debated how to present sequencing data to the public. While everyone agreed that it was best to use the term 'geographic ancestry' instead of 'race,' says the story, "specifying such ancestries is also a minefield. 'Amerindian,' for example, is offensive to Native Americans ... 'Caucasian' is also unacceptable because it implies racial rather than geographic ancestry."

In two papers, scientists have converted mouse skin cells to iPS cells while not using viral vectors. In one, work led by Konrad Hochedlinger at Harvard used nonintegrating adenoviruses to expose adult skin and liver cells to the four transcription factor genes Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. In another, Shinya Yamanaka led a team that used a plasmid transfection procedure to introduce transcription factor genes into mouse embryonic fibroblasts to make pluripotent cells.

Two more studies used large-scale tools to track protein stability genome-wide. In one, Steve Elledge used flow cytometry combined with microarray technology to monitor the stability of 8,000 human proteins and identify proteasome substrates. In a complementary study, Elledge used stability profiling to screen about 350 potential substrates of the Skp1–cullin–F-box (SCF) ubiquitin ligase in mammalian cells. He found that most known SCF targets and many unknown substrates are involved in cell cycle, apoptosis, and signaling pathways.


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.