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This Week in Science: Jan 16, 2009

In this week's issue of Science, authors from the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics write a perspective on the 2006 Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act (GPMA). When S.3822 was revised and reintroduced to Congress in 2008 as S.976, the entire section of "Race, Genomics, and Health" and its provisions were deleted from the bill, say the authors. "An opportunity to provide clarity and leadership on critical issues of human genetic variation from 'bench' to 'bedside' is lost in the current GPMA," which they argue needs to be directly addressed for personalized medicine to avoid "an emerging landscape of race-based therapeutics."

Scientists have looked into natural variation in bacterial pathogen resistance in C. elegans. They used quantitative genetic analysis to find that susceptibility difference between the wild-type strain N2 and the wild isolate CB4856 is caused by a polymorphism in the npr-1 gene, which encodes a homolog of the mammalian neuropeptide Y receptor.

Researchers compared the genomes of two Japanese killifish in an attempt to study how transcription and chromatin structure contribute to the evolution of DNA sequence. They compared two strains, Hd-rR and HNI, and mapped about 37.3 million nucleosome cores from Hd-rR blastulae and 11,654 representative transcription start sites from six embryonic stages, finding an approximately 200-base pair periodic pattern of genetic variation downstream of transcription start sites. "Although the action of purifying selection at many sites within linkers cannot be excluded on the basis of current data, the evidence seems to favor chromatin-mediated mutational bias as the main cause of periodic divergence patterns around consistently positioned nucleosomes," says a related Perspective.

Scientists have used symbiotic bacteria to study genome degradation and reduction. They sequenced the genomes of seven strains of the bacteria Buchnera aphidicola, an endosymbiont of pea aphids, to find a high mutation rate of base substitutions, as well as a high rate of small insertions and deletions associated with DNA homopolymers and occasional larger deletions. "Our results provide a general model for the stepwise process leading to genome reduction," they write in the abstract.

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.