A math-based game that has taken the world by storm with its ability to delight and puzzle may now be poised to revolutionize the fast-changing world of genome sequencing and the field of medical genetics, suggests a new report by a team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). The report will be published as the cover story in the July 1st issue of the journal Genome Research.

Combining a 2,000-year-old Chinese math theorem with concepts from cryptology, the CSHL scientists have devised "DNA Sudoku." The strategy allows tens of thousands of DNA samples to be combined, and their sequences – the order in which the letters of the DNA alphabet (A, T, G, and C) line up in the genome – to be determined all at once.

by Alicia Chung

Single-cell genetic analysis on embryos generated by IVF finds suprisingly high rates of rearrangements

The gain or loss of chromosomal segments causes many problems in cell function, with malignant growth being the most worrying. Screening for such abnormalities is standard practice in fertility clinics for embryos generated by in vitro fertilization, and it has revealed that these embryos, sometimes donated for the generation of human embryonic stem cell lines, often possess chromosome imbalances. In a recent study published in Nature Medicine, Joris Vermeesch and colleagues at the Center for Human Genetics at the Catholic University Leuven, in Belgium, used high-resolution single-cell genetic analysis to show that such abnormalities are also found in embryos generated by in vitro fertilization from fertile young women (less than 35 years old) and are likely to be an inherent feature of early human development1.

by Monya Baker

Copy number variants crop up in routine ES cell culture

Individual mouse embryonic stem cell lines likely encompass more genetic variety than researchers can control for. A recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that mouse embryonic stem cells accumulate gains and losses of millions of base pairs in routine culture.

Sarah Webb

Mathematics can turn experimental data into information, if the personality fits

Stem cells compute. "A feedback circuit based in silicon will have certain properties that a feedback circuit constructed from biological molecules will have," says Ihor Lemischka, who directs the Black Family Stem Cell Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. But figuring out those cellular circuits is dependent on networks made not just of silicon but also of flesh-and-blood scientists.

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