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This Week in PNAS: Oct 17, 2017

In the early, online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by investigators at King's College London explores gene environment interactions and their impact on traits influenced by polygenic variation. Using data for more than 6,700 UK-based participants in the Twins Early Development Study, the researchers looked at relationships between environmental exposures, individual outcomes, and variants associated with human traits or diseases in past genome-wide association studies. Results of the analyses hints that "genetic variants associated with traits, such as educational attainment, body mass index, and schizophrenia, also capture environmental risk and protective factors."

A pair of investigators from Wageningen University presents an analysis of a plant transcription factor family involved in the lateral root formation in Arabidopsis, particularly the formation of new lateral root meristem tissue. The researchers focused on three transcription factors in the PLETHORA (PLT) family, comparing lateral root formation patterns in wild type Arabidopsis plants and those missing the transcription factors. Based on results from these and other experiments, the authors suggest that the PLT transcription factors "are the key molecular triggers for the de novo organ patterning during Arabidopsis lateral root formation."

Finally, a University of Toronto-led team takes a look at epigenetic features that influence foraging behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, the researchers focused on histone methylation marks interacting with the foraging gene, for, in fruit flies classified as "rovers" or "sitters." By comparing targeted expression and methylation profiles in rover and sitter flies with or without an epigenetic regulator called G9a, they saw evidence of allele-specific histone methylation in the foraging gene promoter, which appeared to be dependent on the presence of G9a. "[G9a] regulation of for is responsible for rover-sitter differences in adult foraging behavior," the authors say. "Our results demonstrate that allele-specific histone methylation drives differences in behavior, a mechanism that has not been addressed experimentally."

The Scan

Steps for Quick Review

The US Food and Drug Administration is preparing for the quick review of drugs and vaccines for the Omicron variant, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Moving Away From Using Term 'Race'

A new analysis finds that geneticists are using the term "race" in their papers less than in years past, as Science reports.

Point of the Program

The Guardian writes that some scientists have called the design of a UK newborn sequencing program into question.

Science Papers Present Multi-Omic Analysis of Lung Cells, Regulation of Cardiomyocyte Proliferation

In Science this week: a multi-omic analysis of lung cells focuses on RIT1-regulated pathways, and more.