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This Week in Nature: Jun 20, 2013

In Nature Genetics this week, Sonja Berndt from the National Cancer Institute and her colleagues report on a meta-analysis to identify chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma susceptibility loci. The researchers combined data from four genome-wide association studies — totaling 3,100 cases and 7,667 controls — to home in on 10 SNPs at nine new loci linked to the disease, as well as at an established spot. "Although further studies are required, the proximity of several of these loci to genes involved in apoptosis suggests a plausible underlying biological mechanism," Berndt and her colleagues write.

Researchers from University of Rochester and elsewhere link the secretion of high-molecular-mass hyaluronan by fibroblasts in the naked mole rat to its apparent resistance to cancer. The naked mole rats secretes more than five times the amount of HA than people or mice do, likely due to both the decreased activity of enzyme that degrade HA and the unique sequence ofhyaluronan synthase 2, which encodes the HA protein. "[E]xtremely HMM-HA, its binding to the CD44 receptor, and lower HAase activity have a key role in mediating the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat," the researchers write. "Using naked mole-rat HMM-HA in the clinic or targeting HYAL2, or the HA–CD44 signalling pathway, opens new avenues for cancer prevention and life extension."

And in Nature Biotechnology, investigators at Genome Institute of Singapore and Clarkson University in New York present a detection algorithm called DFilter that can uncover regulatory features in ChIP-seq, DNase-seq, and FAIRE-seq data and an algorithm called EFilter that predicts mRNA levels based on histone profiles. "We show by applying DFilter and EFilter to embryonic forebrain ChIP-seq data that regulatory protein identification and functional annotation are feasible despite tissue heterogeneity," they add.