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Stressed Out Genes

A new study in Cell is helping to clarify how the stress of starvation or drug addiction can be passed on to subsequent generations through epigenetic changes, reports New Scientist's Andy Coghlan. Previous studies have already shown that if mice are stressed after birth, their offspring can be born with signs of depression or anxiety. This new study identifies a molecular mechanism by which the effects of that stress can be handed down without alteration of the genes or DNA, Coghlan says. "[The research] team have shown that chemical or environmental stress detaches a protein called activating transcription factor 2 from chromatin, the densely packed DNA that makes up chromosomes," Coghlan writes. "ATF-2 serves as a kind of zipper, keeping the chromatin tightly bound. Once it is detached, the chromatin structure physically opens up, enabling otherwise hidden genes to become active." The unzipped chromatin is inherited by all descendants of the original cell, he adds.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.