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This Week in Nature: Aug 23, 2018

In this week's Nature, a team led by Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researchers reports sequencing the genome of an hominin who lived more than 50,000 years ago, uncovering evidence of interbreeding between Denisovans and Neanderthals. The researchers sequenced the genome from a bone fragment discovered in the Denisova cave in Siberia and find it belonged to a girl whose mother was a Neanderthal and father was Denisovan. Further analysis shows that the mother came from a population more closely related to Neanderthals who lived later in Europe than to an earlier Neanderthal found in the Denisova cave, suggesting that migrations of Neanderthals between eastern and western Eurasia occurred sometime after 120,000 years ago. The results provide direct evidence of Denisovan/Neanderthal interbreeding, the researchers note. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.

And in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, a group of German researchers presents a new method for the genome-wide mapping of local nucleosome array regularity and spacing using nanopore sequencing. Using the approach in Drosophilacells, they discover modulation of array regularity and nucleosome repeat length depending on functional chromatin states independently of nucleosome positioning — including in unmappable regions. Further, nucleosome arrays downstream of silent promoters are "considerably more regular than those downstream of highly expressed ones, despite more extensive nucleosome phasing of the latter," the authors write. "Our approach is generally applicable and provides an important parameter of chromatin organization that so far had been missing."

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.