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This Week in Science: Jun 22, 2018

In Science this week, the Brainstorm Consortium reports an analysis of shared heritability in common brain disorders, finding significant genetic overlap among many psychiatric disorders. The consortium examined 25 brain disorders using genome-wide association studies of 265,218 patients and 784,643 control participants, and assessed their relationship to 17 phenotypes from almost 1.2 million individuals. While there was very little genetic overlap between neurological diseases, psychiatric disorders were found to share common variant risk. The investigators also identified significant sharing between disorders and a number of brain phenotypes, including cognitive measures. "These results highlight the importance of common genetic variation as a risk factor for brain disorders and the value of heritability-based methods in understanding their etiology," they write. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

And in Science Translational Medicine, a team led by Columbia University Medical Center researchers presents data demonstrating a link between poorly understood RNA fragments called long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) and fat cell metabolism. The researchers sequenced RNA in fat tissue samples from 25 healthy humans and found that the tissue contained 1,001 unique lincRNAs, most of which were not conserved between humans and mice. One in particular — dubbed linc-ADAL — was the most commonly expressed lincRNA in the human tissue, and further study revealed that it interacts with cellular factors to regulate the differentiation of fat cells and the creation of fat stores. The findings point to the functional and potentially clinical significance of recently evolved, noncoding regulatory elements in the human genome, the authors write. GenomeWeb also covers this study, here.