Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

Should I stay or should I go

Posted by rpg on 21 April, 2010

Epigenetic regulation is the new black, or at least charcoal. Modifying chromatin—acetylation or methylation of histone tails, or directly on DNA, in CpG islands for example—can change a number of things in addition to imprinting (turning gene expression on or off depending on parental origin). I’ve just finished one write-up of a F1000 Report discussing histone methylation in meiotic recombination hotspot specification and hybrid sterility, and another one of a paper showing that histone marks regulate alternative splicing patterns (look out for them in June’s The Scientist).

Viruses are getting in on the act too. When Epstein-Barr virus infects a cell it can either hide–latency–or replicate and continue the infection. It uses a single transcription factor to drive these states, depending on the epigenetic status of the host cell; in other words it uses the cellular machinery to wake up when conditions are right. Kind of like a molecular clock, actually. (And you’ve got to love an evaluation that quotes Mick Jones.) We’re also seeing strange but pretty strong effects in certain tumors: hypermethylation of two tumor suppressors in the parathyroid is associated with (and probably leads to) adenoma formation.

Fat’s back in town. Lab rats are obese—morbidly so. But the problem is if you don’t let them feed at will then they get stressed, apparently, which is bad if you’re trying to do experiments on a normal, healthy ‘control’ animal model. Lots to think about there. I’m not going to repeat a comment a colleague made about them being a normal model for certain nationalities, but maybe we could look at knocking out hedgehog, which seems to suppress the generation of white but not brown fat.

Finally (sorry, no room for cytoskeletal porn this week), Faculty of 1000 published its 90,000th evaluation yesterday! David McManus at Weill Cornell Medical College wrote about a paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that looked at combination therapy in the treatment of advanced clear cell renal carcinoma.

We’re looking forward to 100k.

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