Genetics

Genetics is the branch of science concerned with genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms. It seeks to understand the process of trait inheritance from parents to offspring, including the molecular structure and function of genes, gene behaviour in the context of a cell or organism (e.g. dominance and epigenetics), gene distribution, and variation and change in populations.

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    | Open Access

    Genetic variants that influence susceptibility to COVID-19 have recently been identified. In this manuscript, we identify and discuss some of the ethical and practical issues raised by these studies. We first outline the ethical case for providing COVID-19 susceptibility testing to healthcare workers, as well as highlighting risks associated with privacy and discrimination. We then argue that the existence of genetically susceptible individuals has implications for the ethical conduct of COVID-19 human challenge trials. Finally, we discuss the ethical issues that could arise from other COVID-19 host–genome interactions, including the prospect of personalized vaccines.

    • Christopher Gyngell
    • , John Christodoulou
    •  & Julian Savulescu
  • Research Highlights |

    Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) activity is tightly controlled. This report shows that hTERT is primarily regulated by alternative splicing; skipping of exon 2 triggers decay of TERT mRNA in differentiated cells and its retention promotes telomere maintenance in pluripotent cells.

    • Caroline Barranco
  • Research Highlights |

    During development, cell competition causes apoptosis of cells with abnormal ribosomal protein profiles. Ji et al. show that this same mechanism also deletes aneuploid cells and that the deleted cell populations mainly have altered ribosomal protein gene dosages.

    • Caroline Barranco
  • Research Highlights |

    Schep et al. show that non-homologous end joining is strongly favoured in euchromatin, whereas single-stranded template repair is moderately preferred in heterochromatin. Importantly, heterochromatin features that promote microhomology-mediated end joining also decrease Cas9 efficiency.

    • Caroline Barranco