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This Week in Nucleic Acids Research : Jan 25, 2012

In a methods paper published online in advance in Nucleic Acids Research this week, Stanford University's Emily Harcourt and Eric Kool present an approach for isothermal amplified detection of miRNA based on two nucleic acid-templated chemistry steps. Harcourt and Kool say that their doubly templated double-amplification approach offers "significant advantages in ease of operation for miRNA detection."

In another methods paper, MIT's Jacquin Niles and his colleagues present an approach for the "direct and specific chemical control of eukaryotic translation with a synthetic RNA-protein interaction," based on a genetically encoding TetR-binding RNA elements within the 5'-UTR of an mRNA, such that "translation of a downstream coding sequence is directly controlled by TetR and tetracycline analogs," they write.

An international team led by investigators at the UK's Bangor University shows for the first time in eukaryotes that "chimera formation proved to be higher in both richer and more genetically diverse samples." While the Bangor-led team examined data deriving from large control pools of closely and distantly related nematode mock communities, it suggests its findings have implications for future work "identifying genetic variation in homologous loci or multigene families in general."

Researchers in Belgium, Germany, and the US this week show in another advance access Nucleic Research Acids paper that the bacterial H2O2-responsive transactivator OxyR "is involved in oxidative stress defense and regulates other aspects of cellular metabolism as well."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.