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This Week in PNAS: Sep 26, 2017

In the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the US and Israel describe transcriptional read-through patterns associated with heat shock, osmotic stress, or oxidative stress in a mouse fibroblast cell line. Using RNA sequencing, the team mapped so-called "downstream of gene-containing," or DoG, transcripts under these cell stress conditions, uncovering evidence of differential transcriptional read-through induction and distinct chromatin signatures associated with the regions that produce DoGs under stressful conditions. "[I]nduction of transcriptional read-through is a hallmark of the mammalian stress response," they report, pointing to "potential roles for this class of transcripts in the maintenance of open chromatin under stress."

A Stony Brook University-led team characterizes a collection of recoded polioviruses containing as many as 2,1004 randomly scrambled codons containing synonymous mutations, considering the relationships between poliovirus genome sequences, RNA genome packaging, infectivity, proliferation, growth features and more. The researchers note that their results failed to support the notion that the packaging of polioviruses and other single-stranded RNA viruses is determined via loosely conserved hairpin sequences. Instead, they put forth a two-step assembly model for single-stranded RNA virus assembly based on the synthetic poliovirus patterns identified.

Finally, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other centers in China present evidence for a genome stability role for the epigenetic regulator CTCF. Based on cellular and cytogenetic patterns detected in B-cell leukemia cells with depleted CTCF levels — including chromosome breaks, end fusions, and ATM kinase activation — the team suggests that the protein makes direct contributions to genome stability by contributing to double-strand DNA break repair processes. "CTCF maintains genome stability by participating in DNA repair," the authors write, "highlighting a potential link between genome organization and genome stability."

The Scan

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.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.