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  1. Genome-wide association meta-analysis of 78,308 individuals identifies new loci and genes influencing human intelligence

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    Danielle Posthuma and colleagues perform a large meta-analysis for intelligence and determine genetic overlap with several neuropsychiatric and metabolic traits. They find 15 new significant loci and implicate 40 new genes, most of which are predominantly expressed in the brain.

  2. Genome sequencing and population genomic analyses provide insights into the adaptive landscape of silver birch Open

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    Victor Albert, Petri Auvinen, Ykä Helariutta, Jaakko Kangasjärvi and colleagues report the reference genome of the silver birch (Betula pendula) and resequencing of 150 birch individuals. They infer past population size crashes consistent with historical periods of climatic change and identify candidate targets of more recent positive selection.

  3. Reevaluation of SNP heritability in complex human traits

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    By analyzing imputed genetic data for 42 human traits, Doug Speed and colleagues derive a model that describes how heritability varies with minor allele frequency, linkage disequilibrium and genotype certainty. Using this model, they show that common SNPs contribute substantially more heritability than previously thought.

  4. Paused RNA polymerase II inhibits new transcriptional initiation

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    Julia Zeitlinger and Wanqing Shao use ChIP-nexus to study RNA polymerase II (Pol II) promoter pausing and its relation to the formation of new initiation complexes in Drosophila cells. They find that pausing affects the initiation of new transcripts and propose that paused RNA Pol II helps to prevent new initiation between transcription bursts.

  5. Genetic variation, classification and 'race'

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    New genetic data has enabled scientists to re-examine the relationship between human genetic variation and 'race'. We review the results of genetic analyses that show that human genetic variation is geographically structured, in accord with historical patterns of gene flow and genetic drift. Analysis of many loci now yields reasonably accurate estimates of genetic similarity among individuals, rather than populations. Clustering of individuals is correlated with geographic origin or ancestry. These clusters are also correlated with some traditional concepts of race, but the correlations are imperfect because genetic variation tends to be distributed in a continuous, overlapping fashion among populations. Therefore, ancestry, or even race, may in some cases prove useful in the biomedical setting, but direct assessment of disease-related genetic variation will ultimately yield more accurate and beneficial information.

  6. Polygenic transmission disequilibrium confirms that common and rare variation act additively to create risk for autism spectrum disorders

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    Elise Robinson and colleagues present the polygenic transmission disequilibrium test (pTDT) for evaluating transmission of polygenic risk in family-based study designs. The authors apply pTDT to a cohort of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) families and find that common polygenic variation acts additively with de novo variants to contribute to ASD risk.

  7. PGBD5 promotes site-specific oncogenic mutations in human tumors

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    Alex Kentsis and colleagues identify somatic genomic rearrangements in primary human rhabdoid tumors characterized by deletions and inversions involving PGBD5-specific signal sequences at their breakpoints. They further show that ectopic expression of PGBD5 in primary immortalized human cells is sufficient to promote cell transformation in vitro and in immunodeficient mice in vivo, thus defining PGBD5 as an oncogenic mutator and providing a plausible mechanism for site-specific DNA rearrangements in solid tumors.

  8. Lineage-specific functions of TET1 in the postimplantation mouse embryo

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    Kian Peng Koh and colleagues report that TET1 regulates lineage-specific genes in the mouse postimplantation embryo, many of them independently of DNA methylation changes, through regulation of JMJD8 expression. They show that Tet1 deletion causes embryonic defects, which are partially penetrant in an inbred strain but fully lethal in non-inbred mice.

  9. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression: how the genome integrates intrinsic and environmental signals

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    Cells of a multicellular organism are genetically homogeneous but structurally and functionally heterogeneous owing to the differential expression of genes. Many of these differences in gene expression arise during development and are subsequently retained through mitosis. Stable alterations of this kind are said to be 'epigenetic', because they are heritable in the short term but do not involve mutations of the DNA itself. Research over the past few years has focused on two molecular mechanisms that mediate epigenetic phenomena: DNA methylation and histone modifications. Here, we review advances in the understanding of the mechanism and role of DNA methylation in biological processes. Epigenetic effects by means of DNA methylation have an important role in development but can also arise stochastically as animals age. Identification of proteins that mediate these effects has provided insight into this complex process and diseases that occur when it is perturbed. External influences on epigenetic processes are seen in the effects of diet on long-term diseases such as cancer. Thus, epigenetic mechanisms seem to allow an organism to respond to the environment through changes in gene expression. The extent to which environmental effects can provoke epigenetic responses represents an exciting area of future research.

  10. Recurrent noncoding regulatory mutations in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

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    Michael Schatz, David Tuveson and colleagues analyze somatic noncoding alterations in 308 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. They find recurrent noncoding regulatory mutations that correlate with differential expression of proximal genes and find that the strongest regulatory elements are more frequently mutated, suggesting a selective advantage for mutations in these regions.

  11. Fifteen new risk loci for coronary artery disease highlight arterial-wall-specific mechanisms

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    Joanna Howson and colleagues perform a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis for coronary artery disease in large, trans-ancestry cohorts. They identify 15 new loci and correlate these regions with cell-type-specific gene expression and plasma protein levels to find novel pathways and potential mechanisms of disease.

  12. The Nephila clavipes genome highlights the diversity of spider silk genes and their complex expression Open

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    Benjamin Voight and colleagues report the annotated genome of the golden orb-weaver spider. They describe 28 spider silk genes (spidroins), characterize their expression in distinct silk gland types and identify non-spidroin genes with expression patterns suggesting potential roles in silk production.

  13. The genome of woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Open

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    The International Strawberry Sequencing Consortium reports the draft genome of the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca). The genome of this diploid species should serve as a reference genome for the Fragaria genus, as the cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is an octoploid where F. vesca is predicted to be a subgenome donor.

  14. Genomic consequences of aberrant DNA repair mechanisms stratify ovarian cancer histotypes

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    Sohrab Shah, David Huntsman and colleagues report the genomic analysis of 133 ovarian cancers spanning different subtypes. They identify seven subgroups using point mutation and structural variation signatures and use these genomic features to stratify ovarian cancers both between and within histotypes.

  15. Genomic analyses identify hundreds of variants associated with age at menarche and support a role for puberty timing in cancer risk

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    John Perry, Ken Ong and colleagues analyze genotype data on ∼370,000 women and identify 389 independent signals that associate with age at menarche, implicating ∼250 genes. Their analyses suggest causal inverse associations, independent of BMI, between puberty timing and risks for breast and endometrial cancers in women and prostate cancer in men.

  16. Remembrance of epigenomes past

    Understanding of how epigenetic information is acquired, processed and transmitted through cell division, and potentially across generations, remains limited. Mechanistic studies aiming to elucidate the molecular underpinnings of these phenomena may provide insights into development, disease susceptibility and evolution.
  17. Whole-genome resequencing of 292 pigeonpea accessions identifies genomic regions associated with domestication and agronomic traits

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    Rajeev Varshney and colleagues resequence the whole genomes of 292 pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) cultivars, landraces and wild species. They find genomic regions that were likely targets of domestication and perform genome-wide association analysis to identify candidate genes for agriculturally relevant traits.

  18. Mutations in DZIP1L, which encodes a ciliary-transition-zone protein, cause autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease

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    Sudipto Roy, Carol Wicking, Carsten Bergmann and colleagues report that mutations in DZIP1L cause autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). Through studies of mouse and zebrafish models of DZIP1L loss of function, the authors demonstrate that DZIP1L is required for proper function of the periciliary diffusion barrier.

  19. Conserved roles of mouse DUX and human DUX4 in activating cleavage-stage genes and MERVL/HERVL retrotransposons

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    Bradley Cairns, Douglas Carrell, Stephen Tapscott and colleagues transcriptionally profile human oocytes and preimplantation embryos and highlight DUX4-family proteins as activators of cleavage-stage genes and repetitive elements. They show that Dux expression converts mouse embryonic stem cells into two-cell (2C) embryo-like cells, thus suggesting mouse DUX and human DUX4 as drivers of the mammalian cleavage/2C state.

  20. Stable Polycomb-dependent transgenerational inheritance of chromatin states in Drosophila

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    Giacomo Cavalli, Frédéric Bantignies and colleagues report the establishment of stable and isogenic Drosophila lines carrying alternative epialleles, defined by different levels of H3K27me3. They show that environmental changes modulate the expressivity of the epialleles and that epilines can be reset to a naive state, thus indicating that the inheritance of this phenotypic variability is epigenetic.

  21. Contrasting evolutionary genome dynamics between domesticated and wild yeasts Open

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    Jia-Xing Yue, Gianni Liti and colleagues use long-read sequencing to generate complete genome assemblies of 7 Saccharomyces cerevisiae and 5 Saccharomyces paradoxus strains. They use these data to define boundaries between chromosomal core and subtelomeric regions and to compare the evolutionary dynamics between these domesticated and wild yeast species.

  22. The complex genetics of hypoplastic left heart syndrome

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    Cecilia Lo and colleagues report the recovery of mice with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) from a large mutagenesis screen. They find genetic heterogeneity among HLHS mice and functionally validate mutations in two genes, Sap130 and Pcdha, as contributing to HLHS in a combinatorial manner.

  23. Pathogenic variants that alter protein code often disrupt splicing

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    William Fairbrother and colleagues use a massively parallel splicing assay (MaPSy) to analyze 4,964 exonic, disease-causing mutations for splicing defects in vivo and in vitro. They find that 10% of these exonic mutations affect splicing, and they classify these alterations by the stage of spliceosome assembly that is disrupted.

  24. Widespread adenine N6-methylation of active genes in fungi

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    Igor Grigoriev and colleagues perform single-molecule real-time sequencing on 16 diverse fungal species to evaluate levels of adenine methylation (6mA). They find that almost 3% of all adenines are methylated in early-diverging fungi, and they identify clusters of methylated adenines that are enriched at transcription start sites of active genes.

  25. DUX-family transcription factors regulate zygotic genome activation in placental mammals

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    Didier Trono and colleagues show that both human DUX4 and mouse Dux are expressed before zygotic genome activation (ZGA) and lead to activation of ZGA-associated genes. Dux knockout in mouse embryonic stem cells prevents cycling through a 2-cell-like state, and zygotic depletion of Dux impairs embryonic development.