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This Week in Science: Jan 11, 2019

In Science Advances this week, a team of US and Chinese collaborators publish a study shedding light on the transcriptional regulation of the inflammasome NLRP3, which is hyperactivated in a number of inflammatory syndromes including multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disorders. They show that the B7 family-related protein VSIG4 suppresses the expression of NLRP3, as well as interleukin 1-beta, in macrophages during the inflammatory response in vitro and in vivo. This finding, combined with previous work showing that the forced expression of VSIG4 in mice could ameliorate viral fulminant hepatitis, point to VSIG4 and its associated signaling pathway as potential therapeutic targets for various inflammatory disorders, the authors write.

Also in Science Advances, researchers from the University of Lisbon present new reporter systems for the single-molecule imaging of transcription at damaged chromatin. They use the system allows to visualize individual nascent RNAs with high temporal and spatial resolution during the controlled induction of a single double-strand break at two distinct chromatin locations — a promoter-proximal region downstream of the transcription start site and a region within an internal exon —  and say their approach could enable the interpretation of reciprocal interactions between transcription and DNA damage at distinct chromatin regions.