The tale of the blog post that led to the journal article set me thinking about forums for publishing our hypotheses.
We all have ideas, some of them wild, but many based on good science, that we’ve never been able to develop as we’d like. By develop I mean validate experimentally. A chance observation in a genome sequence perhaps, or some data from an old project that was left unfinished when we changed jobs. Often we know just what needs to be done in order to confirm our idea but are unable, for whatever reason, to do so.
It would be great if these types of observation could be written up and published somewhere – perhaps it would spur someone else in the field to do the key experiment. My lazy query – as I don’t have time to survey every life sciences journal is this: are there many journals that include a “hypothesis” section for this kind of open discussion with few or no experimental results? I know that some of the Trends series have “forum” or “opinion” sections and Microbiology has a section for discussion of papers (but only those published in that journal). Perhaps the better-informed readers of my blog know of other journals with a similar section?
I returned from a weekend away to find 640+ items in the feed reader – some of which I’m sure were very interesting. It’s much simpler to give you a roundup from Science last week.
The main highlight is of course the macaque genome, summarised here. If you’re wondering why this is significant, the word is “outgroup”. Humans and chimps are genetically so similar as almost makes no difference, whereas macaques diverged from us longer ago, giving us 25 million years of comparative genomics to play with. Check out the findings so far in several papers in the issue.
Other bloggers have covered the extraction of collagen from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. It merits two papers: one on the methodology and one on the collagen sequence. Contamination is always the major concern with ancient biological material. The sequences obtained are short (around 18 residues at most) and collagen is not the most diverse protein, consisting mainly of glycine and proline. Still, the finding that the T. rex peptides are most similar to chicken is very heartening for the birds/dinosaurs relationship – which I’m guessing is largely accepted these days?
I must also highlight a couple of papers by friends of our lab, the Ban group: one on structure of fungal fatty acid synthase (FAS) and another on structure/mechanism of yeast FAS. The group has a special talent for obtaining the structures of very large multisubunit protein complexes – it’s really impressive stuff that provides a lot of biological insight.