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This Week in Cell: Oct 19, 2016

A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center-led team takes a look at double-strand break patterns in the mouse genome in an effort to more clearly understand meiotic recombination. Using primers coinciding with SPO11 sequences associated with double-strand breaks, the researchers mapped such breaks genome-wide in male mice, uncovering regions between methylated nucleosomes that were particularly prone to these breaks. They also investigated relationships between different features and regulatory mechanisms affecting break profiles. "Understanding complex interplay between the factors shaping the [double-strand break] terrain is an important challenge," the authors note, "and SPO11-oligo mapping will be a valuable resource."

Researchers from the UK explore metabolomic features in more than 4,900 budding yeast gene deletion strains to understand relationships between the genome, metabolic features, and metabolic regulators. By quantifying amino acid levels in Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene deletion strains with liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy, the team saw shifts in amino acid metabolism in the absence of more than one-third of the yeast genes. The investigators note that changes in genes with shared functions typically led to similar amino acid signatures, providing clues to regulation of the yeast metabolome.

An international team led by investigators in the US considers portions of the genome that are constrained in other animals, but seem to have undergone accelerated evolution in humans. When they focused in on more than 2,700 human-accelerated regions with whole-genome and targeted sequencing, along with existing regulatory data, the researchers found that individuals with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to carry rare de novo alterations in parts of the genome that have rapidly changed in humans. GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.