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This Week in Science: Jan 29, 2016

In this week's Science, a team led by Harvard University researchers reports on a study in zebrafish that provided new insights into how melanoma is triggered. The investigators focused on crestin, a gene that is expressed in embryonic neural crest cells, but not adult tissues — except when melanoma develops. They found that the cancer occurs when a series of genes upstream of crestin enhanced its expression and restarting the neural crest cell program that normally occurs only during embryonic development. The findings may point to a new approach for detecting and possibly preventing melanoma initiation.

Also in Science, a team of US and French investigators demonstrates that the overexpression of two genes from the Y chromosome on the X chromosome could preserve the ability to reproduce in male mice lacking the Y chromosome. The mice lacking the Y chromosome had abnormal testes and sperm, but inducing expression of the genes on their X chromosomes allowed their sperm to proliferate. Using artificial fertilization, the team was able to use the sperm from nine of 13 mice to produce offspring. The results, the authors note, support the existence of functional redundancy between Y chromosome genes and their homologs encoded on other chromosomes.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.