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This Week in PNAS: Mar 14, 2017

In the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Canada and the US describe apparent premature termination codon read-through activity by a component in the antibiotic drug gentamicin, which has been proposed as a potential treatment for rare genetic conditions involving nonsense mutations. Based on assays and experiments in rare disease cell lines, cancer cell lines, and mouse xenograft models, the team concluded that a minor component in gentamicin called gentamicin B1 may suppress nonsense mutations in genes such as TP53 or the dystrophin gene DMD via premature termination codon read-through.

The long-fingered bat genome is home to an endogenous retrovirus that's missing in other, closely related bat families, according to another PNAS paper. Researchers from the Czech Republic and the UK began by scanning mammalian genomes for sequences that resembled those from endogenous retroviruses, focusing in on sequences detected in the Natal long-fingered bat, Miniopterus natalensis. Their subsequent analyses suggest that the sequences stemmed from a Deltaretrovirus — dubbed the Miniopterus endogenous retrovirus, or MINERVa — that became incorporated into the germline of long-fingered bat lineage roughly 20 million years to 45 million years ago.

An international team led by investigators at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Alberta explore the bison's history in North America using a combination of paleontological and paleogenomic analyses. The researchers sequenced the mitochondrial genomes in 130,000-year-old and 120,000-year-old bison samples from sites in present-day Yukon and Colorado, respectively, before comparing the sequences to dozens more bison mitogenomes. Their results suggest the first bison arrived in North America roughly 135,000 years to 195,000 years ago, followed by a second wave of bison migrants arriving some 21,000 years to 45,000 years ago. GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.