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This Week in Nature: Jan 28, 2010

In the advance, online edition of Nature Genetics this week, National Cancer Institute investigators Stephen Chanock and Patricia Hartge led a team of researchers who did a genome-wide association study to find variants linked to pancreatic cancer risk. The GWAS involved 3,851 cases and 3,934 controls from a dozen prospective studies and turned up eight SNPs at three loci on chromosomes 1, 5, and 13, including a chromosome 5 locus previously implicated in other cancer types.

An international research team reports that they have identified genetic variants associated with Arabidopsis lyrata adaptation to soils containing high heavy metal levels. By re-sequencing pooled DNA from plants adapted to this so-called serpentine soil and pooled DNA from non-serpentine soil grown A. lyrata, the researchers found genetic polymorphisms linked to serpentine soil adaptation. Among them: variants affecting loci involved in heavy metal detoxification and mineral transport.

A Harvard University-led team reports in Nature Medicine online that they have used an integrated genomics approach to find a region on chromosome 8 that's often over-expressed or amplified in treatment-resistant, recurrent breast cancer. In their follow-up experiments, the researchers show that knocking down either of the two genes in this region — YWHAZ or LAPTM4B — makes tumor cells sensitive to anthracycline-based chemotherapy.

Finally, today's online edition of Nature is scheduled to include a paper on stem cell reprogramming by a Stanford University team. By testing a set of 19 candidate genes, the researchers demonstrated that they could directly program mouse embryonic and post-natal fibroblasts to become neurons using three transcription factors — and without first generating pluripotent cells. "Generation of [induced neuronal] cells from non-neural lineages could have important implications for studies of neural development, neurological disease modeling, and regenerative medicine," they write.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.