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This Week in Nature: Mar 26, 2009

In early online publication, research led by Osaka University scientists used microarray gene expression analysis to identify a toll like receptor-inducible gene, Zc3h12a, as an immune response modifier that regulates mRNA decay. In knockout mice, they found that the expression of proteins interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-12p40 greatly increased and that overexpression of the gene led to IL-6 degradation and destabilized RNAs for genes including IL-6, IL-12p40, and the calcitonin receptor gene Calcr.

A couple of commentaries in this week's issue delve into gene patents and whether they've done more harm than good in the clinical testing arena. In one, Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy scientists argue that the effects of patents and licensing on access to genetic tests for 10 conditions "have not caused irreparable harm in genetic diagnostics, but neither have they proven greatly advantageous." Another discusses a survey that shows that European healthcare systems aren't prepared for the "commercial reality" of gene patents.

Scientists have determined the crystal structure of a spliceosomal snRNP called U1, whose core consists of an RNA and 10 proteins. U1 snRNP is thought to form the first spliceosomal interaction at the 5' end of the intron and to stimulate the assembly of the rest of the spliceosome. "The interactions between U1 components ... not only suggest how the snRNP is assembled, but also hint at how the 5' splice site is recognized," says a related story.

Researchers at UCSF have crossed Mus spretus and M. musculus strains of mice to look at germline polymorphisms and gene expression in order to generate a network view of the "gene expression architecture" of mouse skin. They identified expression patterns that contribute to tissue organization and biological functions associated with inflammation, haematopoiesis, cell cycle control, and tumor susceptibility. Specifically, the intestinal stem cell marker Lgr5 could be a master regulator of the hair follicle and the vitamin D receptor is linked to control of epidermal barrier function, inflammation, and tumor susceptibility.

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.