In Nature Biotechnology this week, a team of University of Tokyo researchers reports the development of a photoactivatable version of the genome-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 that functions in human cells. They demonstrate how, in response to blue light irradiation, the modified CRISPR/Cas9 molecules could induce targeted genome sequence modifications through both non-homologous end joining and homology-directed repair pathways. The genome-editing activity can be switched off by extinguishing the light.
And in Nature Methods, a group of Canadian and UK scientists reports the assembly of a complete bacterial genome using only nanopore sequencing data. The method described has three stages: detection and correction of overlaps using a multiple-alignment process; the assembly of corrected reads using the Celera Assembler; and polishing of the assembly using a probabilistic model of the signal-level data. GenomeWeb covered the preprint version of the paper here.
Lastly, in Nature, an international group of researchers presents a genetic analysis of evolution of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, providing insights into how different lineages of the virus evolved and spread. The team analyzed 179 new virus sequences from patient samples collected in Guinea between March 2014 and January 2015, tracing the current outbreak back to transmission from a bat to an infant in Guinea in late 2013. Data from the effort could be used to assess the efficacy of viral control methods, the team says.