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This Week in Nature: Aug 19, 2010

In Nature this week, investigators in Tokyo and Toronto report that "OTUB1, a deubiquitinating enzyme, is an inhibitor of DSB-induced chromatin ubiquitination." The authors write that they were surprised to find that OTUB1 binds and inhibits UBC13, consequently suppressing RNF168-dependent poly-ubiquitination "independently of its catalytic activity." The team suggests that "pharmacological targeting of the OTUB1–UBC13 interaction might enhance the DNA damage response."

An international research team this week describes "an interferon-inducible neutrophil-driven blood transcriptional signature in human tuberculosis," composed of 393 transcripts detectable in whole blood. "We also identify a specific 86-transcript signature that discriminates active TB from other inflammatory and infectious diseases," the authors write. The team suggests that their investigation "provides a broad range of transcriptional biomarkers with potential as diagnostic and prognostic tools to combat the TB epidemic."

A team led by investigators at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan shows that "trans-acting small RNA determines dominance relationships in Brassica self-incompatibility" in this week's Nature. "This is an example showing sRNA encoded in the flanking region of a dominant allele acts in trans to induce transcriptional silencing of the recessive allele," the authors write of SP11.

Also in Nature this week, researchers at Indiana University and their international colleagues report that "mutations in the homologous histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27) monomethyltransferases, Arabidopsis trithorax-related protein 5 (ATXR5), and ATXR6, lead to re-replication of specific genomic locations," most of which " correspond to transposons and other repetitive and silent elements" of the organism's genome. The team also found that mutations of ATXR5 and ATXR6 are associated with the upregulation of transposon expression; they write that their study identified "a novel pathway that prevents over-replication of heterochromatin in Arabidopsis."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.