Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

A controversial analysis suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome continues to draw criticism, Science reports.

In a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Rudolf Jaenisch and his colleagues report that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can sometimes be reverse-transcribed and integrated into the host genome and further be expressed as chimeric transcripts.

But, as Science reports, critics have said that the findings in this and in an earlier version of the analysis posted to BioRxiv are likely due to lab artifacts and that stronger data is needed to support the claim. Jaenisch tells it that the PNAS paper addresses some of the concerns critics brought up after the preprint was posted and argues that lab artifacts cannot account for all the chimeric reads they detected.

One critic, Cornell University's Cedric Feschotte, tells Science that the "integration data in cell culture is much more convincing than what was presented in the preprint, but it's still not totally clean."

Additionally, it's unclear whether this finding has clinical implications, Science says. In their paper, Jaenisch and his colleagues suggest that their finding could explain why some people produce SARS-CoV-2 RNA even after they recover, though Feschotte notes at Science that the virus could be able to persist in patients for months without integration.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.