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This Week in Nature: Oct 19, 2017

In Nature Communications this week, a team led by scientists from the Broad Institute reports the discovery of gene variants linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. The group analyzed sequencing data for 608 candidate genes and identified four with strong association to the condition. The variants were found to play roles in neural pathways including serotonin and glutamate signaling and synaptic connectivity, and may be therapeutic targets for future treatments. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

And in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, researchers from the University of Copenhagen present a review of key enzymes in the CRISPR gene-editing system, discussing how the effector proteins achieve recognition, unzipping, and cleavage of target DNA. They focus on CRISPR class 2 type V enzymes — specifically the widely used Cpf1 and C2c1, which have different DNA-recognition and cleavage characteristics than Cas9 — and provide a mechanistic overview of their activity to help with their improvement and expanded use in genomics. 

Finally, in Nature Chemistry, Stanford University researchers review the use of synthetic fluorescent nucleobases to study DNA and RNA. They look at the development of fluorescent nucleobases and discuss their utility as research tools in biophysics, biochemistry, and the biology of nucleic acids. The researchers also offer chemical insights into the two main classes of the compounds — canonical and non-canonical nucleobases — touching on the advantages and disadvantages of each.