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Last Week in Nature

An editorial in Nature argues that the worries over genetically modified crops will be "costly and wasteful" in Africa. The African Union gathered a group, including Tewolde Egziabher of Ethiopia's Environmental Protection Authority, Calestous Juma, a Harvard professor of international development, Cheick Modibo Diarra the chairman of Microsoft in Africa, that found that Africa needs new agricultural technologies, with safeguards in place.

Nature also gives a synopsis of a Cell paper from James Collins, which it says shows "one of the first demonstrations of the practical value of systems biology." Collins and his colleagues used DNA microarrays to show how gene expression patterns in E. coli changed when treated with aminoglycoside antibiotics. From that, they determined which gene networks the drugs target and that the antibiotic leads to the production of hydroxyl free radicals.

A News and Views article focuses on two recent articles looking how mutations in BLM lead to the chromosomal abnormalities of Bloom's syndrome, which is characterized by a high rate of sister-chromatid exchange. The papers from Xu et al and Singh et al, in Genes and Development, independently found a new component to the BLM complex, a protein called RMI2, and they suggest that RMI2 interacts with RMI1 which then binds to BLM and Topo 3 , though RMI2 could bind to other protein complexes that repair the genome or certain DNA structures near replication forks. "An emerging theme from these studies is that a complex network of proteins that work through overlapping and interacting pathways confers genomic integrity," writes the NIH's Robert Brosh.


The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.