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This Week in Nature: Dec 30, 2011

In a paper published online in advance in Nature this week, researchers at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City show that the zinc finger protein Ars2 "is necessary and sufficient to promote NSC [neural stem cell] self-renewal, and ... does so by positively regulating the expression of Sox2." The team says its multifactorial analysis highlights "Ars2 as a new transcription factor that controls the multipotent progenitor state of NSCs through direct activation of the pluripotency factor Sox2."

Over in Nature Genetics, an international team headed by investigators at the University of Bristol presents a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 5,606 individuals affected by atopic dermatitis and 20,565 controls from 16 population-based cohorts. The Bristol-led team identified three SNPs that reached genome-wide significance, including one upstream of a gene previously implicated in epidermal proliferation and differentiation. In addition, the team replicated an association with the FLG locus and two recently identified signals.

Two separate studies appearing online in advance in Nature Genetics this week associate mutations in MAP kinase family genes with melanoma. Using exome sequencing, a team led by researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, identified "frequent somatic mutations in MAP3K5 and MAP3K9 in metastatic melanoma." A second team, led by investigators at the University of Geneva, also used exome sequencing and identified recurring somatic MAP2K1 and MAP2K2 mutations in melanoma cell lines.

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.