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This Week in Nature: Feb 28, 2013

In this week's Nature, a team of researchers from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Spain report on the role of the RNA-binding protein CPEB1, which controls mRNA translation, in regulating alternative 3'-UTR processing. They found that CPEB1 shuttles to the nucleus, where it co-localizes with splicing factors and mediates shortening of hundreds of mRNA 3' UTRs, modulating their translation efficiency in the cytoplasm. "CPEB1 binding to pre-mRNAs not only directs the use of alternative polyadenylation sites, but also changes alternative splicing by preventing U2AF65 recruitment," they write.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, a multi-institute team reports on the first lamprey whole-genome sequence and assembly, work that was complicated by the high content of repetitive elements and GC bases, as well as the absence of broad-scale sequence information from closely related species. An analysis of the assembly indicated that two whole-genome duplications likely occurred before the divergence of ancestral lamprey and gnathostome lineages, and help "define key evolutionary events within vertebrate lineages, including the origin of myelin associated proteins and the development of appendages," the researchers say.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the lamprey genome here.

Also in Nature Genetics, Chinese scientists present the draft genome of the fast-growing, non-timber forest plant moso bamboo. Gene prediction modeling identified 31,987 genes, and analyses of clustered gene families and gene co-linearity show that bamboo underwent whole-genome duplication 7 million to 12 million years ago. Additionally, the identification of gene families key in cell wall biosynthesis suggest that the whole-genome duplication event generated more gene duplicates involved in bamboo shoot development, while RNA sequencing analysis of flowering tissues suggests a connection between drought-responsive and flowering genes.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.