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This Week in Science: Feb 14, 2014 (rev. 1)

In Science this week, a team led by researchers from Harvard University reported new details about the genetic basis of how the folds on the surface of the human brain, known as cortical convolutions, develop. Studying the genomes of five individuals from three different families with abnormally thins and smooth cortical convolutions in the area of the brain that controls language, the scientists found that all had the same mutation on a regulatory element that influences the expression of a gene known as GRP56. Further analysis showed that loss of GRP56 inhibited the production of neuroprogenitor cells in a certain brain region, while its overexpression boosted their production — adding another mutation to the list of those known to cause abnormal cortical folding.

Also in Science, a investigators from the Weizmann Institute detail a new automated approach for massively parallel single-cell RNA sequencing for analyzing in vivo transcriptional states in thousands of single cells. When combined with unsupervised classification algorithms, the method allows for cellular decomposition of complex tissues into cell types.

The Scan

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.

Study Examines Relationship Between Cellular Metabolism, DNA Damage Repair

A new study in Molecular Systems Biology finds that an antioxidant enzyme shifts from mitochondria to the nucleus as part of the DNA damage response.

Stem Cell Systems Target Metastatic Melanoma in Mouse Model

Researchers in Science Translational Medicine describe a pair of stem cell systems aimed at boosting immune responses against metastatic melanoma in the brain.

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.