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      Peer review: Trial by Twitter

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          A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus.

          Life is mostly composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus. Although these six elements make up nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids and thus the bulk of living matter, it is theoretically possible that some other elements in the periodic table could serve the same functions. Here, we describe a bacterium, strain GFAJ-1 of the Halomonadaceae, isolated from Mono Lake, California, that is able to substitute arsenic for phosphorus to sustain its growth. Our data show evidence for arsenate in macromolecules that normally contain phosphate, most notably nucleic acids and proteins. Exchange of one of the major bio-elements may have profound evolutionary and geochemical importance.
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            Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity in Humans

            Healthy aging is thought to reflect the combined influence of environmental factors (lifestyle choices) and genetic factors. To explore the genetic contribution, we undertook a genome-wide association study of exceptional longevity (EL) in 1055 centenarians and 1267 controls. Using these data, we built a genetic model that includes 150 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and found that it could predict EL with 77% accuracy in an independent set of centenarians and controls. Further in silico analysis revealed that 90% of centenarians can be grouped into 19 clusters characterized by different combinations of SNP genotypes—or genetic signatures—of varying predictive value. The different signatures, which attest to the genetic complexity of EL, correlated with differences in the prevalence and age of onset of age-associated diseases (e.g., dementia, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease) and may help dissect this complex phenotype into subphenotypes of healthy aging.
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              Editorial expression of concern.

               Bruce Alberts (2010)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                January 2011
                January 19 2011
                January 2011
                : 469
                : 7330
                : 286-287
                Article
                10.1038/469286a
                21248816
                © 2011

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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