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This Week in Science: May 24, 2013

In this week's Science, investigators from Cancer Research UK report the discovery that a protein known as MTBP that has been associated with breast and ovarian cancers in humans is also tied to DNA replication in plants and other animals. They found that MTBP interacts with Treslin/TICRR, the human ortholog of a yeast protein with a known role in DNA replication. The team then found that RNA interference-mediated inhibition of MTBP also suppresses DNA replication, indicating that the protein may be a promising cancer target.

Also in Science, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University propose that genomic changes may be the result of cultural evolution, and not the other way around. They argue that while it is assumed that "biological changes must precede cultural changes," this may not be true. For example, lactase-persistence mutations did not trigger dairy farming, but rather spread as a result of dairy consumption. They point to the recognition of "culture-driven gene evolution in the origins of modern humans" as a "powerful reminder of how easy it is to confuse cause and effect in science."

Meanwhile, in Science Translational Medicine, an international group of researchers publish details of a genetic test that may help identify aggressive lung cancers. Noting that in cancer normally latent genes often become active, they analyzed the gene expression patterns of 300 early-stage lung tumors and compared them to patients' outcomes. They then selected 26 abnormally active genes that, together, may indicate aggressive lung cancer and could be used clinically for tumor stratification.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.