Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Coming to you from this week's Nature

Linking gene expression profiles and regulatory variants
This study analyzed RNA-Seq data (mRNA and miRNA) generated from the lymphoblastoid cells lines of individuals whose genomes were sequenced as part of the 1000 Genomes Project. They were able to identify QTL (quantitative trait loci) associated both with gene expression levels and transcript ratios, or the ratio of distinct RNA transcripts for the same gene. The researchers found that QTLs were numerous and widespread, and, interestingly, that identified QTLs were enriched for indels. This research promises advances in understanding and characterizing regulatory variation in humans, as well as insights into phenotypic variation, when paired with GWAS data.


GMO endangered species!
This comment piece discusses "facilitated adaptation," or the process of introducing adaptive genetic variants into a population faced with the risk of extinction. Facilitated adaptation involves either hybridizing members of a threatened population with members of a better adapted population, which has already been performed with reported success, or, more controversially, using genetic engineering to directly introduce adaptive variants into the threatened population from either another population of the same species or an entirely different species. Such adaptive alleles might convey, for example, increased heat tolerance. However, the author cautions that transgenic alleles may cause complications by disrupting co-adaptive interactions in the endangered population. He further warns that the promotion of these sorts of approaches may encourage indifference toward climate change.

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