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This Week in Cell: Aug 26, 2015

An international team led by investigators in the US and Nigeria describes findings from a sequencing study of Lassa virus, a hemorrhagic fever-causing virus found in West Africa. By sequencing the genomes of 183 clinical Lassa virus isolates collected at hospitals in Sierra Leone and Nigeria between 2008 and 2013 — as well as two lab isolates and 11 isolates from the virus' rodent reservoir Mastomys natalensis — the researchers found that though changes to Lassa virus may have boosted its abundance, translational efficiency, and more, it is still typically transmitted to humans from an animal reservoir rather than human-to-human. GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.

Members of the Genetic Modifiers of Huntington's Disease consortium introduce three independent genetic loci that either hasten or delay the onset of Huntington's disease. The disease modifiers were detected through a multi-stage genome-wide association study involving thousands of people with Huntington's disease. In particular, the team found a locus on chromosome 15 that sped up the onset of disease symptoms by around six years, though another chromosome 15 modifier delayed disease onset. A third locus on chromosome 8 was tied to the appearance of symptoms more than a year-and-a-half earlier than usual. For more on the paper, check out a related GenomeWeb story.

Finally, a National Cancer Institute team introduces a high-throughput strategy for mapping the three-dimensional relationships between different regions of the genome. The method, known as "High-throughput imaging position mapping," or HIPMap, includes an automated pipeline for imaging fluorescent in situ hybridization patterns and measuring spatial positions with high-resolution, the study's authors note. In their proof-of-principle application of HIPMap, they used the strategy to not only map parts of the genome in thousands of undisturbed cells, but also in combination with a small interfering RNA screen to narrow in on dozens of cellular factors mediating appropriate genome positioning.