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This Week in Science: Feb 13, 2015

In Science this week, researchers from Gilead Sciences report on the crystal structure of NS5B, an RNA polymerase encoded by the hepatitis C virus that replicates the virus's RNA genome, and how the company's HCV therapy sofosbuvir interacts with the active site of the polymerase. To do so, the team analyzed the crystal structures of stalled NS5B complexes containing the polymerase, template RNA, and incoming nucleotides during various stages of RNA synthesis. The findings may help in the development of new drugs targeting the replicative machinery of similar RNA viruses such as West Nile, the researchers say.

And in Science Advances, a team led by investigators at the University of Washington School of Medicine publish data around the identification of two sets of DNA sequences that strongly influence the genetic makeup of human centromeres, and point to the importance of these sequences in centromere evolution. After identifying the sequences, the scientists mapped them and found that the DNA are wrapped around two pillars of histones and proteins. If reproducible, these "twin pillars" may serve as the foundation for artificial chromosome production.

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.