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This Week in Nature: Sep 15, 2011

In a paper published online in advance this week in Nature, investigators at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and elsewhere report genome sequences for 17 inbred strains of lab mice, in which they identified "almost 10-times more variants than previously known." The authors suggest that "these sequences provide a starting point for a new era in the functional analysis of a key model organism." Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study.

Elsewhere in Nature's advance online publication, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics report their "sequence-based characterization of structural variation in the mouse genome." By combining experimental and automated analyses, the team found 711,920 structural variants at 281,243 sites in 13 classic and four wild-derived inbred mouse strains' genomes. Again, see GenomeWeb Daily News for more on this study.

Investigators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and elsewhere this week report in Nature on their Sc2.0 synthetic yeast genome project, in which they've developed "the first partially synthetic eukaryotic chromosomes, Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome synIXR, and semi-synVIL." Further, the team defines three design principles for a synthetic genome:

First, it should result in a (near) wild-type phenotype and fitness; second, it should lack destabilizing elements such as tRNA genes or transposons; and third, it should have genetic flexibility to facilitate future studies.

The Johns Hopkins-led team also presents an inducible evolution system â€" which it has dubbed SCRaMbLE, for synthetic chromosome rearrangement and modification by loxP-mediated evolution â€" and demonstrates its utility "as a novel method of combinatorial mutagenesis, capable of generating complex genotypes and a broad variety of phenotypes."

This week in Nature, the International Consortium for Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies reports its generation of a "genetic risk score based on 29 genome-wide significant variants was associated with hypertension, left ventricular wall thickness, stroke and coronary artery disease, but not kidney disease or kidney function." GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study as well.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.