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This Week in Nature: May 27, 2010

In Nature this week, researchers at Genentech and Complete Genomics report their analysis of the mutation spectrum of tumor and normal samples from a patient with non-small cell lung cancer. The team found an "approximate rate of 17.7 mutations per megabase throughout the genome," consistent with "the range of previously observed lung-tumor mutation rates," the authors write. The authors suggest that their study "provide[s] the first evidence, to our knowledge, of distinct selective pressures present within the tumor environment."

Xiaoyu Chen and Martin Tompa at the University of Washington in Seattle report their "comparative assessment of methods for aligning multiple genome sequences" in an advance, online publication of Nature Biotechnology this week. In evaluating the level of agreement among the four ENCODE alignments, the team shows that Pecan "produces the most accurate or nearly most accurate alignment in all species and genomic location categories, while still providing coverage comparable to or better than that of the other alignments in the placental mammals."

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University report the CD95 is frequently down-regulated during cancer progression and promotes tumor growth. The team notes, however, that the "complete loss of CD95 is rarely seen in human cancers," and "many cancer cells express large quantities of CD95 and are highly sensitive to CD95-mediated apoptosis in vitro." The team suggests, then, that cancer cells "depend on constitutive activity of CD95 ... for optimal growth."

In an opinion piece published this week, Nature gathered the opinions of eight "synthetic biology experts" regarding the creation of the Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome, published in Science last week. Expert contributions range from "'bottom-up' will be more telling," from Steen Rasmussen at the University of Southern Denmark, to "the achievement of the JCVI team is biomolecular engineering of the highest order," as David Deamer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, opines.

The Scan

Boosters Chasing Variants

The New York Times reports that an FDA advisory panel is to weigh updated booster vaccines for COVID-19.

Not Yet

The World Health Organization says monkeypox is not yet a global emergency, the Washington Post reports.

More Proposed for Federal Research

Science reports that US House of Representatives panels are seeking to increase federal research funding.

PLOS Papers on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Left-Sided Cardiac Defects, SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring

In PLOS this week: link between breast cancer metastasis and CLIC4, sequencing analysis of left-sided cardiac defects, and more.