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Still Looking for the Gene That Makes Pandas Cute, Though

Jingjing, a 3-year-old female giant panda, has gotten her genome sequenced, researchers report in Nature. The draft panda genome was generated using Illumina's Genome Analyzer and the 2.25 gigabases covers about 94 percent of the panda genome — the gaps appear to contain repeats specific to carnivores. Indeed, the researchers point out that pandas appear to have all the genes necessary for eating meat and though they also have a mutation in the umami taste gene called T1R1 though may prevent them from detecting an amino acid common in meat. Furthermore, the panda bamboo diet may reflect the traits of its gut microbiome.

"Giant pandas have long been a biological curiosity, owing in part to their strict bamboo diet and low rate of reproduction," adds this Scientific American article.

As an aside, the National Zoo's giant panda cub, Tai Shan, is scheduled to head to China in January.

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.