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Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Genetics can influence the development of major depressive disorder (MDD) in affected individuals who were previously exposed to trauma, according to new study appearing in JAMA Psychiatry this week. Self-reported trauma exposure, particularly that occurring in childhood, has an established role in depression, and research has indicated that higher levels of trauma are linked to MDD. However, the interplay between genetics and trauma on depression has not been fully explored. In their new paper, researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed genomic and other data on roughly 150,000 adult participants in the UK Biobank who showed depressive symptoms and/or neuroticism and reported exposure to a range of different traumas. They find that genome-by-trauma exposure interactions can explain up to 20 percent of variation in MDD and more often in males versus females. The study results, the authors write, suggest that "exploring mechanisms underlying genome-by-trauma exposure interactions may be useful in identifying at-risk individuals and intervention targets ... [and] may provide explanations for depression prevalence differences across the different sexes."

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.