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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.

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.