In this week's Nature Genetics, a group from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and elsewhere presents the genome sequence of the endangered golden snub-nosed monkey. The primate represents a group of monkeys called colobines that survive on difficult-to-digest foods including leaves and seeds. To support this diet, they have developed multi-chambered stomachs containing bacteria capable of breaking down this normally indigestible matter. The genome reveals an expansion in the number of genes, compared with other primates, that code for salivary enzymes able to neutralize toxic compounds. The researchers also identified more than 2,000 genes that evolved rapidly in both golden snub-nosed monkeys and cattle, which also have compartmentalized stomachs, suggesting they are involved in the adaptation for leaf-eating. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the golden snub-nosed monkey genome here.
Also in Nature Genetics, a team of US and Japanese researchers report on a genomic analysis of more than 500 liver cancer genomes from different populations, revealing 30 candidate driver genes and 11 core pathway modules. They also compared the trans-ancestry substitution signatures in 609 liver cancer cases and identified unique mutational signatures that predominantly contribute to Asian cases. The work sheds light on previously unexplored ancestry-associated mutational processes in liver cancer development, the researchers say.