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Staving off Resistance

Evolution is a likely stumbling block for getting gene drives to promulgate a desired gene through a species, Nature News reports.

Researchers, like those at Target Malaria, are hoping to use CRISPR-based gene drives to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes by introducing a mutation that causes infertility.

But, according to Nature News, lab experiments have not only shown that the mutation can increase in proportion in a mosquito population, but also that resistance to the gene drive can crop up. This, Cornell University's Philipp Messer tells Nature News, isn't all that surprising. In particular, the Target Malaria team noted an increase in mosquitoes in their experiments with garbled CRISPR-targeting sites that the tool no longer recognized, though other forms of resistance may also occur, it adds.

To slow the development of resistant strains, researchers are trying to target multiple sites in one gene or multiple genes, Nature News says, noting that resistance is unavoidable. It adds that the Target Malaria team is working on a second-generation of gene drives.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.