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This Week in Science: Feb 15, 2019

In this week's Science, an international research team reports new data on how rabbits in Europe and Australia rapidly developed genetic resistance to the myxoma virus, a pathogen that is deadly to the animals — although benign to their American counterparts — and was released in the 1950s in an effort to curb growing rabbit populations. The scientists compared the exomes of modern rabbits with those of historical specimens and identified a strong pattern of parallel evolution, with selection on standing genetic variation favoring the same alleles in Australia, France, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, the scientists find that many of these changes occurred in immunity-related genes, supporting a polygenic basis of resistance. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

And in Science Translational Medicine, a multi-institute group of investigators publishes data linking a DNA repair pathway to radiation resistance in gliomas with a mutation in the enzyme IDH1R132H, which often co-occurs with mutations that inactivate the tumor-suppressing genes TP53 and ATRX. To better understand this, the scientists engineered a mouse model of glioma with mutated IDH1R132H and inactivated TP53 and ATRX, and found that the animals' tumors had an enhanced DNA damage response that stabilized the their genomes and conferred resistance to radiation therapy. Treating the animals with the approved glioma treatment temozolomide, which damages DNA, or two different compounds that inhibit the DNA damage response restored sensitivity to radiation therapy.