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This Week in Nature: Oct 19, 2012

In Nature this week, researchers from the International Barley Genome Sequencing Consortium publish an integrated and ordered physical, genetic, and functional sequence resource describing the barley gene-space. Genomes from the crops of the Triticeae tribe, which includes rye, wheat, and barley, have proven difficult to sequence given their size and complexity. To address this issue, the consortium scientists combined multiple genomic and genetic datasets to create "an integrated, multi-layered informational resource that provides access to the majority of barley genes in a highly structured physical and genetic framework." This provides other investigators with a platform for genome-assisted research and contemporary crop improvement.

In Nature Communications, a Harvard Medical School-led team reports data genetically linking populations in eastern and southern Africa, providing evidence that both locations were origins of modern humans. The investigators examined more than 500,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms from 21 southern African and two eastern African groups using a genome-wide array, and found that they share a quarter of their ancestry despite their geographical isolation. The team suggests that separation of the populations began within the last 30,000 years, and shows a genetic signature of population mixture between the populations and northern migrants beginning 1,200 years ago.

Finally, in Nature Methods, scientists from Utrecht University and Thermo Fisher Scientific describe an approach for improving the resolution and accessibility of mass spectrometry methods for determining the structural details of large multi-protein complexes. By modifying an Orbitrap mass spectrometer, the group was able to measure intact multi-protein complexes with molecular weights up to 1,000 kDa with sensitivity sufficient to detect single ions. The instrumental modifications are minor, and are expected to allow more "in-depth and detailed information to be gained than is currently possible with native mass spectrometry."

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.