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This Week in PLoS : Apr 2, 2012

Investigators at Ludwig-Maximilians-University show in an SNP analysis on a population of 2,196 people — including 913 Crohn's disease patients, 318 ulcerative colitis patients, and 965 healthy, unrelated controls — that "rs6887695 modulates the susceptibility and the phenotype of IBD [inflammatory bowel disease]." Writing in PLoS One this week, the authors add that the SNP's effect on inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility "is less pronounced than that of IL23R gene variants."

Over in PLoS Genetics, researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases report on their use of a "bivariate linear mixed-effects model to estimate the narrow-sense heritability and heritability explained by the common SNPs for several metabolic syndrome traits and the genetic correlation between pairs of traits for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities genome-wide association study population." The team says its model supports large genetic correlations between body-mass index and waist-to-hip ratio, as well as between fasting trigylcerides and fasting high-density lipoprotein in the population.

Elsewhere in the journal, the University of California, Berkeley's Frederick Tan and his colleagues discuss the role of Sgs1- and Exo1-dependent resection on genome stability in the context of experiments they performed using a non-selective assay they previously developed using diploid yeast. "We find that Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacking Sgs1 and Exo1 [retain] a very efficient repair process that is highly mutagenic to genome structure," Tan et al. write. "Specifically, 51 percent of cells lacking Sgs1 and Exo1 repair a double-strand break using repetitive sequences 12 [to] 48 kb distal from the initial break site, thereby generating a genome rearrangement."

Finally, researchers at the University of Georgia discuss the genetic basis of floral symmetry in the context of "double-flowered sunflower mutants … such as those captured by Vincent van Gogh in his famous nineteenth-century sunflower paintings."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.