NetWatch

Science  13 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5758, pp. 153
  1. IMAGES: Genes at Work

    GenePaint displays portraits of activity levels for more than 1000 mouse genes involved in development and other functions. The gene expression atlas from the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Endocrinology in Hannover, Germany, holds a complete set of slices from a 14-day-old embryo and selected images for other pre- and postnatal stages. Researchers used probes that tag messenger RNA to indicate each gene's activity level in the slices. You can find out which genes are cranking away in a specific organ system or in about 100 structures, such as the lens of the eye. You can also search the data by expression patterns, including whether a particular gene's activity is local or widespread. A virtual microscope lets users zoom in on a slice down to the cellular level. The site also offers anatomy guides that feature labeled sections such as the head of a 15-day-old embryo.

    http://www.genepaint.org/

  2. TOOLS: Mapping Bushmeat Threats

    Commercial hunters pursuing “bushmeat” are decimating chimpanzees, gorillas, and other mammals in Central Africa. Since NetWatch's last visit (Science, 25 June 2004, p. 1883), the Web site of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force has added a mapping feature that can help researchers gauge threats to these species and craft conservation strategies. The tool lets users chart the ranges of 33 animals that often end up in the cooking pot and overlay variables that affect species' vulnerability, such as human population density and the locations of major roads, reserves, and logging concessions. One example, for instance, shows that roads allowing hunters access to the forest crisscross the chimpanzees' range.

    www.bushmeat.org/IMAP/mapserver.htm

  3. RESOURCES: The Final Cut

    Talk about a split personality. The short version of the protein BCLX prompts cells to kill themselves, whereas the long version keeps them alive. Thanks to the process called alternative splicing, most proteins in the body come in multiple versions that often perform different jobs or toil in different tissues. Researchers can track these variants with ProSplicer from the National Central University in Taiwan. The site pinpoints splicing sites in nearly 22,000 human genes by comparing genomic data with information such as messenger RNA and protein sequences. Search for your favorite gene to call up a map that shows which DNA segments code for amino acids and which get left out in the different protein versions.

    prosplicer.mbc.nctu.edu.tw

  4. DATABASE: Something in the Air

    Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new limits on PM2.5, tiny particles spewed from power plants and vehicles that are implicated in heart attacks and other diseases (Science, 6 January, p. 27). A new air-quality database funded by the nonprofit Health Effects Institute in Boston can help researchers untangle how PM2.5 causes illness. The site, run by the contractor Atmospheric and Environmental Research of Lexington, Massachusetts, houses measurements gathered between 2000 and 2004 by an EPA network that monitors fine particles at 54 sites and by more than 200 other stations around the country. Click on a U.S. map to see trends in fine particle levels and components such as ammonium and sulfate at a specific location. You can also download daily measurements of PM2.5 and other pollutants, along with meteorological data such as temperature and wind speed. The database is free, but users have to e-mail the company to request access.

    hei.aer.com/login.php

  5. WEBLOGS: Weighty Matters

    If somebody uses mass spectrometry to make a noteworthy discovery or releases a tool for viewing data files, you'll hear about it from chemist Kermit Murray of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Murray's 4-year-old Mass Spectrometry Blog offers resources, tips, and news for scientists who rely on this method for determining a sample's chemical makeup. For example, recent posts announced a tutorial on Fourier transform mass spectrometry and linked to a commentary on distributing academic lectures via podcasts.

    msblog.kermitmurray.com

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