In the category of “Best Title for a Review Article”…

Review titles give us back some of the creativity and freedom we’re denied when writing for the primary literature. My favorite review title ever was penned by a biologist of aging (though, ironically, the review itself was about developmental biology): A Perfect Vulva Every Time, by Cynthia Kenyon.

I might, however, have a new contender. From USC’s John Tower, we have this poignant entry: The murmur of old broken heart strings.

Although it has long been hypothesized that gene expression might become more variable or noisy during aging, direct evidence has been scarce so far. A new study reports detection, by PCR analysis of individual cells, of increased cell-to-cell variability in gene expression in aging mouse heart; moreover, a similar variability can be generated in cultured cells using oxidative stress.

The “new study” aforementioned is a Nature paper by Bahar et al. that came out a couple of months ago, pre-Ouroboros. Its (more prosaic) title is Increased cell-to-cell variation in gene expression in ageing mouse heart, and it is definitely worth a read; Jan Vijg, the senior author, also gives a darn good talk on the subject. I intend to blog it alongside the next good gene expression paper that comes along; meanwhile, I’ll state without further ado that I believe robustness and stochasticity in gene expression to be an important direction for the field.

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