Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in PNAS: Mar 13, 2013

An international team led by investigators in France outlines efforts to sequence and characterize the genome of the red algal species Chondrus crispus, commonly called Irish moss — a member of a lineage descended from the first photosynthetic eukaryotes formed through endosymbiosis. After using Sanger sequencing to tackle a C. crispus sample grown from material collected in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, in the 1980s, the researchers delved into the 105 million-base-pair genome sequence, identifying 9,600 or so predicted protein-coding genes. Between the metabolic pathways in the genome, the overall gene set, and features of the genome such as gene density and intron-exon patterns, the team got clues about everything from Irish moss biology to the nature of ancestral marine plants.

In another early, online study, researchers uncovered epigenetic contributors to the facial tumor disease that has sharply cut wild Tasmanian devil numbers. A University of Cambridge and University of Tasmania-led group found evidence suggesting the contagious tumor disease dodges devils' immune systems by tinkering with histone marks that normally manage antigen processing and expression of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules on infected cell surfaces. "These results demonstrate how [devil facial tumor disease] passes as an allograft, revealing characteristics that may be important in the emergence and evolutionary success of contagious cancers more generally," researchers write. "Further, these results have implications for the development of a vaccine against [devil facial tumor disease]."

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

A research trio based at the University of California, San Diego, describes algorithms for finding sites in the tumor genome that contain chromosomal abnormalities caused by a breakage-fusion-bridge, or BFB, mechanism. The researchers came up with computational approaches designed to see two features stemming from BFB — a type of genomic instability that begins when a chromosome loses a telomere, making it prone to fusion followed by DNA breaks during cell division. The group demonstrated the feasibility of using these approaches to detect BFB using simulated data and sequence data representing seven previously tested pancreatic cancer samples.