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This Week in Cell: Mar 11, 2015

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Broad Institute, and elsewhere describe new culprits in lung cancer formation and metastasis found with the help of a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knockout screen in mouse cells. Using a set of more than 67,400 single-guide RNAs, the researchers mutagenized a mouse cancer cell line that started out non-metastatic. Following this treatment, they transplanted the cells into immunocompromised mice to track the loss-of-function mutations that influenced lung metastases in the animals. The search led to genes targeted by 624 of the single-guide RNAs, study authors say, providing clues to the metastatic process.  

Stanford researchers propose using the African turquoise killifish as a model organism for genome-to-phenotype studies of aging and age-related disease. The team introduced integrative genomics tools for the short-lived vertebrate, together with methods for doing genome assembly and CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing on the fish. In their proof-of-principle experiments, the study's authors developed a killifish line lacking one of the telomere subunits — an organism that quickly advances to conditions that resembled age and/or telomere problems. GenomeWeb has more on the study here

Finally, a Columbia University-led team presents a single-molecule imaging method for tracking the activity of recombinase enzymes in the Rad51/RecA family as they help match up single-stranded DNA with corresponding double-stranded DNA sequences during the process of homologous recombination. Using this fluorescence microscopy-based method, the researchers untangled new details about the process that Rad51 uses to scan stretches of double-stranded DNA in search of microhomology tracts where recombination can occur. "The use of microhomology motifs as recognition elements has crucial implications for understanding how DNA sequences are aligned during [homologous recombination]," they write.

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.