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  • Despite centuries of effort from philosophers, physicians and biologists, the answer to the seemingly simple question “what is aging?” remains elusive. Some even posit that aging represents a phenomenon too expansive to ever be succinctly defined. A new study tackles this question by profiling hundreds of phenotypes across age in mice and examining how the trajectories of these phenotypes are altered by geroprotective genetic and dietary interventions.

    • Michael R. MacArthur
    • Sarah J. Mitchell
    News & Views
  • The application of genome-editing tools to generate point mutations in animal models is of particular value for precise disease modeling, but the PAM requirement of Cas enzymes is a critical limiting factor. Two new studies demonstrate that SpRY variant displays efficient genome editing in a nearly PAM-less manner in zebrafish, expanding the targeting scope of base editors in this model.

    • Pratishtha Varshney
    • Gaurav K. Varshney
    News & Views
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the FKBP5 gene influence the risk of developing stress-related disorders, but the underlying processes are not fully understood. Animal models offer a possibility to investigate the influence of FKBP5 gene variants on the stress response system.

    • Marie-Pierre Moisan
    News & Views
  • New insights into gut-brain axis and cognition function show that accumulation of Caudovirales bacteriophages in the gut microbiota is associated with improved executive function and memory.

    • Mercedes Gomez de Agüero
    • Aryan Rahimi-Midani
    News & Views
  • Social isolation can lead to poor mental and physical health. A new study determines that social isolation increases food and nicotine-seeking during abstinence, but that social housing can reverse these effects.

    • Rebecca S. Hofford
    News & Views
  • A new CRISPR/Cas9 method that can generate F0 mutant zebrafish has the potential to cut costs, spare time, and reduce animal use for researchers interested in screening loss-of-function alleles in vivo.

    • Wouter Masselink
    News & Views
  • To achieve knockdown rather than knockout of particular genes, a new paper demonstrates a CRISPR/Cas13 method that can efficiently edit mRNA in zebrafish, medaka, killifish, and mouse embryos.

    • Rebecca Leech
    • Karuna Sampath
    News & Views
  • Caged neurotransmitters are widely used to study neurobiological processes such as synaptic transmission and plasticity. However, uncaging has been primarily restricted to in vitro and ex vivo experimental systems. Using caged neurotransmitters in vivo has posed a huge hurdle because photoactivatable cages bind to GABA-A receptors, acting as competitive antagonists towards GABA. This reduced inhibition leads to epileptiform-like activity, which can cause problems for circuit level studies in vivo. To circumvent this off-target effect, a recent publication introduces a new caged glutamate: G5-MNI-glutamate. Using a novel technique called ‘cloaking,’ GABA-A receptor antagonism is abolished, opening up new possibilities for future in vivo studies with caged neurotransmitters.

    • Roberto Ogelman
    • In-Wook Hwang
    • Won Chan Oh
    News & Views
  • Human cancer is a disease of cooperating genetic events that is complex to model in vivo. A new study combines somatic base editing with a mouse model of breast cancer, demonstrating the potential to rapidly investigate the function of disease-specific point mutations.

    • Kirsteen J. Campbell
    • Karen Blyth
    News & Views
  • Further questions about a novel Sex-Differentiated Pavlovian fear response in rats.

    • Natalie Odynocki
    • Andrew M. Poulos
    News & Views