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Web of Neutrophil DNA

Neutrophils may contribute their DNA to the cement that holds gallstones together, according to New Scientist.

As Discover's D-brief blog notes, physicians have known that gallstones arise then there are high levels of cholesterol and calcium salts in the bile, but that what then holds the stones together has been unclear. Researchers from Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany examined gallstones acquired from people undergoing surgery and report in the journal Immunity that the formation of gallstones requires neutrophil extracellular traps (NET), web-like structures of DNA and other molecules that typically bind invading microbes.

“When [neutrophils] find suspicious matter, for example the crystals that form gallstones, they tend to eject their DNA and hog-tie the material,” senior author Martin Herrmann from FAU tells New Scientist.

He and his further report that inhibiting the formation of NETs reduced gallstone development in mice, but note that further clinical studies are needed. "Hopefully, we can convince pharmaceutical companies to perform a clinical study with inhibitors of NET formation or NET aggregation," co-first author Luis Muñoz, also from FAU, says in a statement.

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 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 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.