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This Week in Nature: Sep 9, 2010

In a paper published online in advance in Nature this week, an international research team reports that "a trans-acting locus regulates an antiviral expression network and type 1 diabetes risk." Specifically, using integrated genome-wide approaches across rat tissues, the team found an "interferon regulatory factor 7-driven inflammatory network enriched for viral response genes, which represents a molecular biomarker for macrophages and which was regulated in multiple tissues by a locus on rat chromosome 15q25." The human locus that controls the IRF7-driven inflammatory network is "associated with the risk of T1D at single nucleotide polymorphism rs9585056," the team writes.

In Nature this week, investigators at Harvard and MIT describe "graphene as a subnanometer trans-electrode membrane." The team writes that the "atomic thinness, stability, and electrical sensitivity of graphene" inspired them to determine whether graphene membranes and nanopores are capable of characterizing single DNA molecules in ionic solution. They say that graphene is "an ideal substrate for very high resolution, high-throughput nanopore-based single-molecule" detection.

Researchers suggest in Nature Genetics that variation at the PRDM9 locus is a "risk factor for some pathological genome rearrangements" as it influences genome instability. "Human genetic variation at the PRDM9 locus has a strong effect on sperm hot-spot activity, even at hot spots lacking the sequence motif," the authors write, adding that the gene may act as a global regulator of hot spots in humans.

And in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology this week, investigators in France and the US discuss differential splicing at the exon junction complex in Drosophila. The team demonstrates that "only some introns trigger EJC-dependent nonsense-mediated mRNA decay and that EJC association with particular spliced junctions depends on RNA cis-acting sequences," as they write. The team says that their work provides the "first evidence to our knowledge" that EJC deposition is a regulated process.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.