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This Week in Nature: Sep 11, 2008

Gary Ruvkun's lab at Harvard has used RNAi to find that two pre-mRNAs are trans-spliced to form a functional mRNA, eri-6/7. The ERI-6/7 protein is a superfamily I helicase that both negatively regulates the exogenous RNAi pathway and functions in an endogenous RNAi pathway.

Two papers use GWAS to find genetic variation in schizophrenia. In one, a large consortium identified 66 de novo CNVs associated with the disease, with three particular deletions at 1q21.1, 15q11.2 and 15q13.3 being significant. Another, led by the International Schizophrenia Consortium, used a GWAS to find that rare CNVs (observed in less than 1 percent of the sample) increased risk. A related News and Views article says that these studies "show that genome-wide studies of thousands of patients not only can confirm the association between previously identified genetic loci and the disease, but can also identify new loci."

Scientists used a genome-wide RNAi screen to find 305 host proteins that affect West Nile virus infection in humans. Some important pathways they found are ubiquitin ligase CBLL1 in WNV internalization, the endoplasmic-reticulum-associated degradation pathway in viral infection, and the monocarboxylic acid transporter MCT4 as a viral replication resistance factor.

A news feature checks in on the battle between Sigma-Aldrich's proprietary zinc-finger protein technology and a competing academic platform that would make designer zinc-finger proteins accessible to everyone. More than 700 different zinc-finger proteins -- transcription factors which bind to specific DNA sequences to switch genes on and off -- have been identified, and their use extends from basic to clinical research as a way to knock down gene expression.


The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.