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This Week in Genome Biology: Oct 23, 2013

A researcher from the University of California at Los Angeles used computational approaches to come up with an epigenetic clock for estimating tissue age based on cytosine methylation marks. As he reports in Genome Biology online, Steve Horvath used array-based methylation profiles from thousands of human tissue samples to home in on a few hundred epigenetic marks that apparently correspond with chronological age in multiple tissue types. The set was subsequently used to assess samples from individuals with cancer and other conditions in an effort to further delve into potential relationships between tissue age and disease. Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

The onset of kidney fibrosis often involves shifts in the cytosine methylation patterns of enhancer sequences upstream of renal transcription factors and fibrosis-related genes in kidney tubule tissue, according to another Genome Biology study. A team from the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere did array-based methylation profiling on kidney tubule samples from dozens of individuals with healthy kidneys or with kidney disease. Based on the differentially methylation sites detected in those experiments and in follow-up tests, the study's authors determined that "epigenetic dysregulation plays a role in chronic kidney disease development via influencing core pro-fibrotic pathways and can aid in the development of novel biomarkers and future therapeutics."

An international team led by investigators at Wageningen University presents findings from its genome sequencing study of speciation in the Sus genus, which includes domestic pigs and wild boar. By sequencing the genomes of 10 wild pigs belonging to five Sus species from Southeast Asia and an African common warthog from another genus, the researchers found evidence for climate and human influences on Sus speciation and diversification in island regions of Southeast Asia.