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This Week in Nature: Jul 2, 2009

Three genome-wide association studies published in Nature's early online edition show that many common variants contribute to increased risk for developing schizophrenia -- not just large, rare structural variations. In total, says a BBC story, the scientists identified 30,000 variants, highlighting SNPs found on genes in the MHC on chromosome 6. The studies were led by or used data from the International Schizophrenia Consortium, the Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia consortium, SGENE, Decode Genetics, and the Genetic Risk and Outcome in Psychosis study.

This week's cover story reveals how salamanders regenerate lost limbs. "Because the cells that collect in the blastema look identical, it has long been thought that they have dedifferentiated from tissues near to the plane of amputation into a single population of pluripotent cells," says a News and Views perspective. Not so. According to work led by German scientist Martin Kragl, researchers found that, by tracking limb tissues using an integrated GFP, the cells do not become pluripotent and have restricted differentiation potential.

Several articles take a look at the state of iPS cell generation. Shinya Yamanaka reviewed the bottlenecks in the process, and proposes that "most or all cells have the potential to become pluripotent." A study from Spanish scientists led by senior author Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte showed that somatic cells from Fanconi anaemia patients can be reprogrammed to pluripotency to generate patient-specific iPS cells. Another study led by Partners' Kenneth Chien used transgenic and gene-targeting approaches to find that human fetal ISL1+ cardiovascular progenitors that can differentiate into the cardiomyocyte, smooth muscle, and endothelial cell lineages are also able to self-renew before the differentiation process. A third revealed that two interacting leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) signaling pathways can control pluripotency in mouse ES cells. Others provide even more insight.

Finally, a Nature Methods paper led in part by Norbert Perrimon and Bonnie Berger presents RNAiCut, an automated method to identify hits by incorporating protein-protein interaction data. "This tool will help functional genomics research by enabling hit-list gene selection using orthogonal datasets," they say.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.