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This Week in PNAS: Oct 3, 2017

In the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from France and Korea explore innate immune interactions with the tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The team turned to transposon mutagenesis to systematically alter a virulent strain of M. tuberculosis, tracking the consequences of these mutations in an infected human cell line carrying a reporter construct that picked up innate immune activity in the host cells. The search led to mutated pathogens that prompted enhanced immunity in the host, leading to M. tuberculosis glycolipids that seem to help staunch such immunity in wild-type pathogens.

A team from Japan and Belgium identifies a role for a cytoplasmic microtubule organizing center (MTOC)-like structure in plants with asymmetric cell division. With live imaging of asymmetric cell division in cell types from gametophore tissue in Physcomitrella patens moss — a centrosome-free plant that relies on a preprophase band microtubule structure during mitotic cell division — the researchers tracked down new microtubule organizing structures in the cell cytoplasm that transiently form during prophase and contribute to spindle orientation in metaphase. These so-called gametosomes resembled mitochondrial polar caps described in other plant types, prompting follow up experiments in tobacco tissue culture cells.

Finally, members of a University of Iowa-led team demonstrate the feasibility of using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to interfere with glaucoma-causing, gain-of-function forms of the MYC gene in a mouse model of primary open-angle glaucoma and in human trabecular meshwork eye cell cultures. After taking a crack at the gene editing approach in cell lines with or without an early-onset primary open-angle glaucoma-associated mutation in MYOC, the researchers used adenovirus to deliver the CRISPR construct in young and adult mouse models of the disease. GenomeWeb has more on the study.

The Scan

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.

Active Lifestyle Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in People at High Genetic Risk

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that an active lifestyle goes a long way in type 2 diabetes prevention.

Beneficial, Harmful Effects of Introgression Between Wild and Domesticated European Grapes

A paper in PNAS shows that European wild grapevines were an important resource for improving the flavor of cultivated wine grapes.

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.