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What If Spiderman Was a Bacterium?

Researchers at Tufts University have found a way to engineer bacteria to produce enough protein to make spider silk, according to MIT's Technology Review. The silk — which is lightweight and tougher than steel — could have many industry applications, says Tech Review's Katherine Bourzac. Previous efforts to do this have failed because researchers were unable to get the microbes to produce enough protein to synthesize the silk, Bourzac adds. Researchers also didn't have the complete gene sequence for the silk, but new sequencing technology enabled them to produce the first complete genetic sequence last year. The Tufts scientists added the full silk sequence to E. coli and then engineered its protein production pathway to produce the right amino acids, Bourzac says, adding that they now plan to turn it into a production process.

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.