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This Week in Nature: Jan 14, 2010

In Nature this week, Whitehead Institute Director David Page and his co-workers describe their work to the finish sequencing the male-specific region of the chimpanzee Y chromosome. When they compared it to the same bit of the male sex chromosome in humans, the team uncovered unexpected sequence structure and gene content differences. As Nicholas Wade reports in the New York Times, the new comparison flies in the face of previous notions that the Y chromosome is undergoing decay and instead suggests it is rapid evolving.

A Purdue University, US Department of Energy, and US Department of Agriculture-led team reports on the sequencing and analysis of the soybean draft genome. The researchers used a Sanger approach to generate sequence covering about 85 percent of the plant's 1.1 billion base genome — sequence that's already yielding clues about everything from soybean digestibility and phosphorus storage to oil biosynthesis and disease resistance. For more information, check out a related the news story in our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News.

Swiss and German researchers studied mouse embryonic stem cells to look for clues about how these cells deal with endogenous retroviruses. In the process, they found that a regulatory protein called KAP1 or TRIM28 acts in concert with DNA methylation to recognize and silence viral sequences that might otherwise cause damage during mouse embryonic development.

Finally, the print issue also features two cancer genome sequencing papers by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and elsewhere. In the studies, which first appeared online last month, the team catalogs somatic mutations in small cell lung cancer and malignant melanoma genomes, offering insights into the mutational consequences of smoking and UV light, respectively.

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.