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This Week in Nature: May 31, 2012

Members of the Tomato Genome Consortium present in Nature this week genome sequences for the inbred tomato cultivar "Heinz 1706" and its closest wild relative, Solanum pimpinellifolium, each of which they compare to the potato genome. As our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News reports, "by folding in gene expression, SNP, and other data, the researchers have already started finding clues about the genetic bases for important tomato traits — ranging from fruit flavor, color, and texture to smell and susceptibility to pathogens — as well as differences in gene use between tomato and potato plants."

Elsewhere in Nature, investigators at the Yale University School of Medicine and at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute show that E4, a conserved non-exonic element, "acts as a cortex-specific enhancer for the nearby gene Fezf2 … which is required for the specification of corticospinal neuron identity and connectivity" in mammals. Further, "we show evidence supporting the emergence of functional SOX-binding sites in E4 during tetrapod evolution, and their subsequent stabilization in mammals and possibly amniotes," the authors write.

Over in Nature Genetics, researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science discuss the transcriptional effects of sequences that generally don't form nucleosomes, and poly(dA:dT) tracts in particular. In their paper, the researchers show that these tracts causally affect transcription, and that "manipulating these elements offers a general genetic mechanism, applicable to promoters regulated by different transcription factors, for tuning expression in a predictable manner, with resolution that can be even finer than that attained by altering transcription factor sites," they write.

Finally, a team led by the University of Edinburgh and Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit this week identify three new colorectal cancer risk loci at 6p21, 11q13.4, and Xp22.2, bringing the total number of independent loci associated with CRC risk to 20, the authors write in Nature Genetics.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.