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This Week in Nature: Oct 18, 2007

The cover image of Nature shows clinical geneticist Hugh Rienhoff with his daughter who suffers from a condition similar to Marfan's, Beals, and Loeys–Dietz syndromes, but not quite. Rienhoff has taken the search for the genetic root into his own hands, according to the news feature, purchasing a used PCR machine and setting up a website to chronicle her health and his progress. Keith Robison blogs about this story and "the promise  — and the complications — of cheap DNA sequencing".

Berkeley's Steven Brenner penned an editorial proposing a public database of human genetic variations and their effects. The information contained in the Genome Commons would come from other databases, diagnostic laboratories, and the literature. This, he hopes, would change the interpretation of genomic data, since sequencing someone's genome right now doesn't actually provide much more information than taking a proper medical history. Deepak Singh shares his views on this deceptively simple project .

Nature also reviews both Craig Venter's and James Watson's new books. Reviewer Jan Witkowski calls Venter's A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life "fittingly well-written, fast-paced and full of interesting data, gossip — and score-settling." Huntington Willard reviewed Watson's Avoid Boring People, and says each chapter ends with a homily that adds up to 108 commandments for young scientists. "Some are silly, some are off the mark after so many decades, and some are painful to acknowledge," writes Willard.

Pardis Sabeti and her colleagues report detecting positive natural selection in the human genome. They used long-range haplotype methods to analyze over 3 million polymorphisms as well as a new method to find fixed alleles. In West Africa, positively selected genes include LARGE and DMD, related to the Lassa virus. The genes SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, involved in skin pigmentation, were positively selected for in European populations. Finally, they also found that the hair follicle development genes EDAR and EDA2R were targets of positive selection in Asian populations.


The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.