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This Week in Nature : Jul 18, 2013

In this week’s Nature, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported on the silencing of a third copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down’s syndrome in a cell culture model of the disorder, marking a step forward towards “chromosome therapy.” The scientists used zinc finger nucleases to insert an inducible transgene version of a gene called XIST into cultured stem cells from Down’s syndrome patients. “The XIST non-coding RNA coats chromosome 21 and triggers stable heterochromatin modifications, chromosome-wide transcriptional silencing, and DNA methylation,” effectively silencing genes on the chromosome and correcting the unusual pattern of cell growth and differentiation seen in cells derived from patients.

In Nature Genetics, a team from the University of Zurich published the draft genome of the fungal pathogen wheat powdery mildew, or Blumeria graminis forma specialis tritici, as well as the resequencing of three additional isolates and a comparative analysis with the barley powdery mildew genome. The researchers identified more than 600 candidate effector genes, many showing evidence of positive selection. Characterization of genetic diversity patterns suggested that mildew genomes are “mosaics of ancient haplogroups that existed before wheat domestication,” and that the adaptation of the pathogen to new host species was “based on a diverse haplotype pool that provided great genetic potential for pathogen variation.”

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.