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Science Papers Present Analysis of Chinese Mountain Cat, American Lobster Genome

By analyzing genomic data for the Chinese mountain cat, a team led by Peking University researchers confirm that the animal is a subspecies of wildcat and not involved in cat domestication in China. As detailed in Science Advances, the Chinese mountain cat has a controversial taxonomic status, with disagreement over whether it is a true species or a wildcat subspecies, and whether it contributed to cat domestication in its native country. To investigate, the scientists collected samples of the Chinese mountain cat over its entire range in the Tibetan region, as well as the the Asiatic wildcat from Xinjiang and domestic cats across China, and sequenced 51 nuclear genomes, 55 mitogenomes, and multilocus regions from 270 modern or museum specimens. Their analyses classified the Chinese mountain cat as a wildcat and revealed ancient admixture events between it and the Asiatic wildcat, but not evidence of any role in feline domestication.

A high-quality draft assembly of the American lobster genome is published in Science Advances this week, revealing new details about adaptations contributing to the animal's longevity and ecological success. The American lobster is both ecologically and commercially important, while its accessible nervous system has made it a valuable research model. To provide an additional resource for study, a group led by Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute investigators used a combination of short- and long-read sequencing and scaffolding based on Chicago and Hi-C libraries to assemble a high-quality genome of the crustacean. Their analysis of the neural gene complement reveals extraordinary development of the chemosensory machinery, while the discovery of a novel class of chimeric receptors coupling pattern recognition and neurotransmitter binding suggests a deep integration between the neural and immune systems. The team also uncovers a repertoire of genes involved in innate immunity, genome stability, cell survival, chemical defense, and cuticle formation, representing a diversity of defense mechanisms that allow the lobster to thrive in the benthic marine environment.

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.