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This Week in Nature: Jul 12, 2013

Researchers from Japan and the US did whole-exome sequencing on tumor and matched normal samples from 13 individuals with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia in their quest to find informative mutations in the pediatric leukemia — work that they describe in Nature Genetics. Together with targeted sequencing in samples from almost 100 more PMML patients, the exome sequence data revealed mutations to several genes implicated in PMML in the past, particularly members of the RAS signaling pathway. But researchers also saw recurrent, secondary mutations in genes such as SETBP1 and JAK3 genes, which seem to signal disease progression.

For more on the study, check out a related story at our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News.

A University of Toronto-led team used a competition binding assay called RNAcompete to help put together a list of motifs in RNA that can be recognized by RNA binding proteins for a study in Nature. Using the in vitro method, the researchers teased apart the types of sequences bound by more than 200 RNA binding proteins, including representatives from humans, Drosophila, and other eukaryotes. In the process, they identified RNA binding protein interactions that were subsequently verified by in vivo experiments as well as motifs with apparent ties to post-transcriptional regulatory processes that act on RNA, such as alternative splicing.

A pair of Nature papers by two independent research teams look at the genetic, phylogenetic, pathogenicity, and other features of the avian influenza A virus H7N9, starting with human isolates collected during a spate of recent sporadic infections in China. The analyses — one by researchers from Japan and the US and another by investigators at the US Centers for Disease Control — suggest that the H7N9 isolates can infect and replicate in some mammals such as monkeys and ferrets, even getting passed between ferrets in some cases. Both groups noted that transmission from one ferret to the next still occurs fairly infrequently, but urged surveillance and tracking of H7N9 viruses.