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This Week in Nature: Mar 12, 2009

In an early online publication, scientists at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center have used RNAi to show that the histone acetyl transferase CBP in flies and CBP and p300 (Ep300) in humans acetylate H3K56, whereas Drosophila Sir2 and human SIRT1 and SIRT2 deacetylate H3K56ac. Acetylation within the globular core domain of histone H3 on lysine 56 (H3K56) has recently been shown to play a key role in chromatin formation after DNA replication and repair in budding yeast and that acetylation of H3K56 is increased in multiple types of cancer.

A series of letters from readers discusses the debate on whether GWAS and whole genome sequencing should be used to study the race-intelligence link, in response to commentaries from February saying that science and society won't benefit from that. While several say that IQ doesn't exist and shouldn't be used as a measure of intelligence anyway, one argues that using GWAS to get a more detailed analysis of what makes up intelligence "may provide useful insights into the molecular architecture of cognition," according to blogger Daniel MacArthur. "This is not a debate that will be resolved any time soon, but it is a credit to Nature that they have permitted such a robust exchange of views on this rather dangerous topic within their pages."

Research led by Broad scientists used a new approach to identify a class of large non-coding RNAs. Using chromatin-state maps across protein-coding loci, scientists identified about 1,600 large multi-exonic RNAs -- large intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) -- in four mouse cell types. They found 95 percent of these lincRNAs to show clear evolutionary conservation. Follow-up functional genomics studies demonstrated a diverse range of roles for lincRNAs, from embryonic stem cell pluripotency to cell proliferation.

Finally, there is a series of technology features on transcriptomics. One considers how next-generation sequencing, or a digital approach to studying RNA transcripts, may eventually outcompete the analog methods of microarrays and real-time PCR. A second delves into the search for function in lincRNAs, with a closer look at the Broad's John Rinn, who led the study published this week on these non-coding RNAs. "We are going to throw the Broad kitchen sink at them," says Rinn, who plans to systematically knock down each lincRNA to find out what it does.

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.