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Papers to Catch Up On


Bayesian Phylogenetics

Kolaczkowski B, Thornton JW. (2009). Long-Branch Attraction Bias and Inconsistency in Bayesian Phylogenetics. PLoS One. 4(12):e789.

In this paper, the authors examine two different methods for inferring phylogenetic history: the Bayesian inference and the maximum likelihood methods. They demonstrate that the Bayesian inference method, when compared to the maximum likelihood method, is biased toward topologies that group long branches together. The implications of these findings suggest that trees inferred by way of the maximum likelihood method have a better chance of being more reliable than the Bayesian inference method, which is error prone.

Bornavirus in the Human Genome

Keizo Tomonaga. (2010). Endogenous non-retroviral RNA virus elements in mammalian genomes. Nature. 463(7277):84-7.

Tomonaga and his joint Japanese-American team show in this paper that elements homologous to the nucleoprotein gene of bornavirus are present in several mammalian genomes, including humans, non-human primates, rodents, and elephants. Through this study, the team says it has provided the first evidence for endogenization of non-retroviral virus-derived elements in mammalian genomes and gives novel insights into both the generation of endogenous elements and of bornavirus as a source of genetic novelty in its host.

Patterns of Mutation

Rubin AF, Green P. (2009). Mutation patterns in cancer genomes. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. E-print.

In this paper, Rubin and Green examine patterns of nucleotide substitution in brain, pancreatic, breast, and colorectal cancers by utilizing previously published data. In it, they demonstrate that either negative or positive selection has affected only a small number of mutations and that the increased CpG mutation frequency seen in some cancers seems to occur primarily outside of CpG islands and CpG island shores. These findings reject the idea that the increase is a result of island or shore methylation followed by deamination. This re-analysis also enabled the authors to demonstrate that the relative frequency of mutations at "dinucleotide hotspots" can help aid in the detection of likely technical artifacts in large-scale studies.

Tasmanian Devil

Murchison EP, Tovar C, Hsu A, Bender HS, et al. (2010). The Tasmanian Devil Transcriptome Reveals Schwann Cell Origins of a Clonally Transmissible Cancer. Science. 327(5961):84-7.

This paper describes a large-scale genetic analysis of a transmissible cancer known as devil facial tumor disease, a major threat to the Tasmanian devil population. Using microsatellite genotyping, mitochondrial genome analysis, and deep sequencing of the DFTD transcriptome and microRNAs, the researchers generated a diagnostic marker for the devil facial tumor disease and identified a group of genes relevant to its pathology and transmission. The paper also contains a genomic data set for the Tasmanian devil that can be applied to cancer diagnosis, as well as disease evolution and conservation.

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.