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This Week in Nature: Aug 2, 2007

Not only does the lab mouse Mus musculus have its genome sequenced, but two labs, those of Kelly Frazer and Gary Churchill, are independently making genomic maps of the different strains to get insights into the lab mouse's evolutionary history and, perhaps, into how diseases arise in both mice and people. So far both teams report that the European subspecies domesticus is the main source of the lab mouse's genome, according to this news article.

Researchers from Jichi Medical University in Tochigi, Japan identified a gene associated with non-small-cell lung cancer. An inversion on chromosome 2p sometimes fuses the ALK and EML4 genes in people with non-small-cell lung cancer. This mutation activates ALK, a tyrosine-kinase encoding gene, and these types of kinases have been linked to cancer. The related News and Views speculates that blocking the ALK kinase activity could be a powerful therapy for cancer patients with this rearrangement.

Another News and Views declares that the epigenomic era has begun. In Nature, Tarjei Mikkelsen from the Broad Institute and his colleagues made genome-wide chromatin-state maps of mouse embryonic stem cells, neural progenitor cells, and embryonic fibroblasts. And in Cell, researchers from the NIH mapped the distribution of histone methylations on the human genome. "We are just at the beginning of exploring how a single genome can spawn multiple epigenomes," says the News and Views.

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.