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Nature Biomedical Engineering Paper Describes New Cell Sorting Method

A new immunomagnetic method for sorting large collections of cells for genome-scale phenotypic genetic screens is reported this week in Nature Biomedical Engineering. The microfluidic-based technique is used by its developers to process an entire genome-wide CRISPR–Cas9 loss-of-function screen containing more than 108 cells in less than one hour, beating the throughput of fluorescence-activated cell sorting while maintaining high levels of cell viability. The method, they write, "could bridge the gap between fluorescence-activated cell sorting and less flexible yet higher-throughput systems such as magnetic-activated cell sorting."

A genomic study of the reef-building coral Porites lutea and its microbial symbionts is presented in Nature Microbiology this week, providing new insights that may help conservation efforts. An international team analyzed genomes recovered from P. lutea, as well as various members of its endogenous microbial community, finding that many of the bacterial and archaeal genomes encode motifs that may be involved in maintaining association with the coral host and in supplying nutrients to their eukaryotic partners. The findings highlight the key roles that microorganisms play within the coral community and the need to consider all of these components when developing strategies for reef preservation. 

By applying genomics and CRISPR gene editing to a human induced pluripotent stem cell model, a research team has generated data revealing cumulative effects between rare and common risk variants in schizophrenia. In a study appearing in Nature Genetics, the scientists demonstrate cell type-specific effects of common variants and demonstrate a synergistic effect between schizophrenia expression quantitative trait loci genes that converges on synaptic function. "We propose that the links between rare and common variants implicated in psychiatric disease risk constitute a potentially generalizable phenomenon occurring more widely in complex genetic disorders," they write.