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This Week in PNAS: Nov 1, 2011

In this week's PNAS Early Edition, an international team led by investigators at Yonsei University present RiceNet, "an experimentally tested genome-scale gene network for a monocotyledonous species." The authors say RiceNet can also "accurately predict gene function in another major monocotyledonous crop species, maize," and further, that it could facilitate the "engineering of pathways critical to crop productivity."

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute this week show that the mat1-M-encoded factor Mc, "which shares structural and functional similarities with the male sex-determining factor SRY, is highly enriched at the swi2 and swi5 loci and promotes elevated levels of RPC [recombination-promoting complex] components" in Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells. The NCI team reports in PNAS results that suggest "Mc modulates levels of recombination factors, which is important for mating-type donor selection and for the biased gene conversion observed during meiosis, where M cells serve as preferential donors of genetic information."

The University of Strasbourg's Bertrand Ludes and his colleagues report their analysis of "DNA extracted from human remains excavated in a Spanish funeral cave dating from the beginning of the fifth millennium B.C.," which generated results the authors say indicate "a surprising temporal genetic homogeneity in" Neolithic individuals and French Late Neolithic individuals.

In another paper published online in advance this week, a team led by investigators at the University of Utah Health Science Center reports its use of RNAi-based gene silencing to produce "improved photoreceptor survival, delayed disease onset, and increased visual function" in a dominant retinitis pigmentosa mouse model. "Our results provide a promising strategy toward effective RNAi-based gene therapy by scAAV2/8 delivery for dominant retinal diseases," the authors write.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.