Science roundup

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.