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Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

A research team from Saudi Arabia and Australia describes an alternative cysteine amino acid biosynthesis pathway present in the Acropora loripes coral genome for a paper appearing in Science Advances. Contrary to past studies suggesting that the coral turns to symbiosis with Symbiodiniaceae family dinoflagellates to make up for the loss of a cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) gene that codes for an enzyme involved in the traditional cysteine biosynthesis pathway, the investigators uncovered another cysteine biosynthesis pathway that relies on homologs of the Cys2 succinyltransferase and Cys1a sulfhydrylase enzymes previously linked to an alternative cysteine pathway in fungi. "We demonstrate that these coral proteins are functional and synthesize cysteine in vivo, exhibiting previously unrecognized metabolic capabilities in animals," the authors report, noting that the same pathway "is also present in most animals, but absent in mammals, arthropods, and nematodes, precisely the groups where most of the animal model organisms belong to, highlighting the risks of generalizing findings from model organisms."

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.