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Science Papers Present Type 1 Diabetes Signatures, Mitochondrial Study of Ancient Xinjiang People

By analyzing the blood transcriptomes of children at high risk of type 1 diabetes, a team led by scientists from the University of Cambridge has uncovered genetic and immune signatures that may help in managing the autoimmune disease. In the report, which appears in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers analyzed longitudinal blood transcriptomes from 400 individuals who participated in a study examining the environmental determinates of type 1 diabetes before the onset of disease. They find extensive changes in the expression of genes in different cells, including natural killer cells, that correlate with disease progression. The investigators then used their findings to develop a model that could predict type 1 diabetes onset in a collection of 356 blood samples from a separate group of 56 children. The findings show that type 1 diabetes is "characterized by early and longitudinal changes in gene expression, informing the immunopathology of disease progression and facilitating prediction of its course," the study's authors write.

A study analyzing the mitochondrial genomes of ancient people living in the Xinjiang region of China is published in Science Advances this week, providing new insights into the genetic history of a region that has been an important crossroads for East and West Eurasian populations for thousands of years. Investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators sequenced 237 complete human mitochondrial genomes from 41 sites in the region dated from around 5,000 to 500 years before the present. They find that in the Bronze Age, Xinjiang populations show high diversity and regional genetic affinities with Steppe and northeastern Asian populations, as well as a deep ancient Siberian connection for some populations in the region. By the Iron Age, Steppe-related and northeastern Asian admixture intensified, forming the foundation of present-day populations in Xinjiang.