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Cognitive Trait Pathways Tracked Down With Tissue-Specific Expression Effect Analysis

In Nature Communications, researchers from the US, UK, and the Netherlands outline the transcriptome-wide structural equation modeling (T-SEM) method they used to computationally tease out tissue-specific gene expression consequences in relation to several cognitive traits. The team turned to T-SEM to explore the biology behind seven cognitive traits, bringing in data for between 11,200 and nearly 331,700 individuals to focus in on tissue-specific expression patterns that contribute to cross-trait genetic sharing. Across a set of 184 genes with such tissue-specific expression, meanwhile, the authors defined more than two dozen over-represented functional groups with a stratified genome SEM strategy. "We applied T-SEM to distinguish genes whose inferred expression operates across seven diverse cognitive functions as indexed by a genetic g-factor, from those whose inferred expression operates more specifically on individual cognitive traits," the authors write, adding that "implementation of the multivariate, functional methods described here can begin to elucidate the biological mechanisms that are shared and unique across genetically correlated quantitative traits and disease phenotypes."

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.