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This Week in Nature: Sep 4, 2014

In Nature this week, a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology reported data suggesting that homologous recombination between RNA and DNA may be far more widespread than previously believed, making RNA a key player in genomic stability and plasticity. Generally, homologous recombination involves the exchange of genetic information between similar DNA molecules. But in experiments in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the researchers found that under certain stress conditions, transcript RNA is recombinogenic and can act as a template for double-strand break repair in DNA. Further, the scientists presented data indicating that transcript-RNA-templated DNA repair could occur in human cells, as well.

And in Nature Methods, scientists at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research published a novel framework for monitoring high-throughput sequencing data in real time. Called SeqControl, the method can predict sequencing quality and coverage based on metrics describing overall coverage, coverage distribution, basewise coverage, and basewise quality. Using whole-genome sequences of 27 prostate cancers and 26 normal references, the investigators derived multivariate models that predict sequencing quality and depth. Using their approach, called SeqControl, they were able to predict how much sequencing was required to reach a given coverage depth; classify clinically relevant formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples; and make predictions from as little as one-eighth of a sequencing lane.