Volume 24 Issue 4, April 2000

Volume 24 Issue 4

Cover art by Christopher Cassidy


News and Views

  • News & Views |

    The sequencing group at Celera Genomics Corporation has cooperated with the European, Canadian and American genome projects to demonstrate that a genomic sequence as large as that of Drosophila melanogaster euchromatin (120 Mb) can be obtained by assembling the sequence of random (‘shotgun’) clones without the prerequisite for a clone-based physical map.

    • Daniel L Hartl
  • News & Views |

    A study by Niwa et al. shows that changes in the levels of the transcription factor Oct-4 regulate the differentiation of embryonic stem cells along three different pathways. These observations suggest a possible mechanism by which Oct-4 determines the formation of the mouse pre-implantation embryo.

    • Colin L Stewart
  • News & Views |

    Two studies in this issue1,2 indicate that loss-of-function mutations in the MSX2 homeobox gene result in failure of cranial fontanelle closure in both mouse and human, and that MSX2 dosage is critical to normal osteogenesis. Another study, also in this issue, indicates that a loss-of-function mutation in MSX1 results in human cleft palate3. Msx genes interact with other genes (for example, the gene encoding TGFβ3) to specify normal or cleft palate development, raising the possibilities of both prenatal diagnosis and therapeutic treatment of human cleft palate. The dose sensitivity and interaction of craniofacial genes may be the basis for generating the important subtle variations in human faces.

    • Mark W J Ferguson
  • News & Views |

    More than 30% of the human genome consists of retroposed sequences—including retroposons and processed genes—but retroposition events are rare. New experimental methods that accelerate retroposition are now clarifying the mechanisms that shape the genome.

    • Alan M Weiner
  • News & Views |

    The podocyte is a highly specialized kidney cell that is essential to the ultrafiltration of blood, resulting in the extraction of urine and the retention of protein. Four studies, the most recent of which is published in this issue of Nature Genetics, indicate its critical role in the pathology of nephrotic syndrome.

    • Stefan Somlo
    •  & Peter Mundel


Brief Communications

Book Review