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This Week in Cell: Dec 16, 2015

Researchers from the Broad Institute, Harvard University, and elsewhere describe findings from a single-cell RNA sequencing study focused on groups of pro-inflammatory Th17 cells immune cells suspected of contributing to autoimmune disease. The team did single cell RNA-seq on more than 700 Th17 cells collected in vivo or cultured in vitro from the central nervous system and lymph nodes of mice with autoimmune encephalitis. From these and other data, the study's authors not only identified sub-populations of Th17 cells, but were able to begin teasing apart candidate genes that seem to be expressed at various stages during the transition from non-pathogenic to pathogenic Th17 cells.

Studies by independent research teams reveal new details about the genome of the African turquoise killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri, a short-lived fish species that's garnering attention as a model organism for understanding aging, lifespan, and chromosome evolution. For the first of the papers, a Stanford University-led group developed an African turquoise killifish reference genome spanning just over one billion bases, which it used to search for clues to the fish's abbreviated lifespan. In addition to uncovering genes that appear to be under positive selection in the killifish, for example, authors of that analysis found that genes with potential lifespan roles tend to cluster on killifish sex chromosomes.

French and Italian researchers, meanwhile, came up with a 1.24 billion base draft N. furzeri genome assembly to scrutinize the specifics of sex chromosome evolution and aging in their own Cell study. With the help of genome resequencing on a handful of other male killifish, the team identified polymorphic versions of the killifish Y chromosome that are believed to represent various stages of the male sex chromosome's evolution. The group also did its own search for genes under positive selection in the African turquoise killifish and again saw signs of aging-related gene clusters in the genome. GenomeWeb more on the killifish genome characterization efforts, here.