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This Week in Nature: Jul 10, 2014

In this week's Nature, Rockefeller University researchers provide insights into a pathway that regulates the spread of breast cancer. Specifically, they discovered that a protein called TARBP2, which plays a role in microRNA processing, is elevated in metastatic cells and metastatic breast cancer tumors. TARBP2 was also found to destabilize the transcript of two genes that have previously been implicated in Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease, but appears to have tumor-suppressor activity as well. Preventing the destabilization of messenger RNAs could therefore represent a new therapeutic avenue, the study's authors suggest.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, a group led by investigators form Shanghai Jiao Tong University and elsewhere report on an analysis of the genetic sequences of gallbladder cancer in a Chinese patient population, a group that particularly prone to the disease. The team found that genes in the ErbB signaling pathway, which is involved in cell growth and survival, were mutated in nearly 37 percent of samples and are linked to poor prognosis. Further study showed that when a particular ErbB mutant was active at the same time as the normal version of the gene, cellular proliferation was increased.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.