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This Week in Genome Research: Mar 25, 2009

In the March issue of Genome Research, work led by Evan Eichler describes the first systematic and genome-wide analysis of segmental duplications and CNVs in the modern domesticated dog, Canis familiaris. Using tiling arrays that covered all predicted segmental duplications, Eichler's team performed array CGH across 17 breeds and a gray wolf, identifying 3,583 CNVs. They found that these CNVs span 429 genes that are involved in many biological processes such as olfaction, immunity, and gene regulation.

In advance online publication, scientists from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology studied the genome-wide effects of trans- and cis-regulatory mutations on gene expression. Comparing the "genomic neighborhood" of orthologous genes in human and chimps with their different gene expression patterns, they found that "genes with altered neighborhood are more likely to undergo expression divergence than genes with conserved neighborhood" and that in addition to other mechanisms, "change in genomic neighborhood is an important factor that drives transcriptome evolution."

Also in early online, researchers looked for positive selection across 53 populations, using genotype data from the Human Genome Diversity-CEPH Panel. Among other things, they found possibly new targets of selection for several genes in the NRG–ERBB4 developmental pathway in non-African populations and for genes involved in susceptibility to type II diabetes.

Cornell biologists examined the evolution of Campylobacter, a genus that includes several important human and animal pathogens. Examining the genome sequence data across eight species comprising 647 genes, they estimate that 92.5 percent of the non-recombinant core genome is under positive selection on at least one lineage and that the same gene is often under positive selection on multiple lineages. They suggest that this selection occurs due to different species competing for the same resources within the gastrointestinal tract.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.