PLANT GENOMICS

Shelling out the genetics of peanut allergies

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 51
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6205.51-c
CREDIT: DERKIEN/ISTOCK PHOTO

Peanut allergies are on the rise, but how did the genes that encode these allergens evolve? To find out, Ratnaparkhe et al. examined the genomes of the cultivated and wild peanut and compared them to other plants to determine how the major peanut allergens Arah1, Arah2, Arah3, and the closely related Arah6 evolved. Relative to other plant species, some of these genes changed their position within the genome, duplicated, expanded (added new nucleotides to the sequence), and/or mutated. Despite this, the researchers observed genetic similarities in the specific regions of these peanut genes that cause the immune system to react.

Genome Biol. Evol. 10.1093/gbe/evu189 (2014).

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