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This Week in Science: Dec 16, 2016

In this week's Science, a University of California, San Francisco-led team describes the use of a CRISPR-based technology to shed new light on the functions of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). The approach, called CRISPR interference, allowed the researchers to study about 17,000 different lncRNAs in seven different human cell lines. By selectively inhibiting the expression of specific lncRNAs, they could globally search for their functions. The investigators found about 500 lncRNAs associated with cell growth, and discovered that about 89 percent were highly specific to one cell type. The findings adds the number of known functional lncRNAs and opens the door to their use clinically.

And in Science Translational Medicine, an international team of researchers reports the discovery of a gene that may explain why male melanoma patients have worse outcomes than female patients. By examining tumor samples from melanoma patients, the researchers identified a tumor suppressor gene that is expressed a lower levels in men than woman, and was independently correlated with poor clinical outcome. In cell culture studies, the gene was found to encode a protein that decreased melanoma growth by negatively interfering with DNA replication and cell cycle progression.