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This Week in Cell: Jun 3, 2015

Researchers from the Netherlands, the US, and the UK share details about the method they used to establish and start characterizing a biobank of organoids from individuals with colorectal cancer. After developing 22 tumor and 19 matched normal organoids with samples from 20 colorectal cancer patients, they used whole-exome sequencing, array-based gene expression profiling, viability assays, and other approaches to compare features in the organoids with those found in the tissues used to develop them. The study's authors highlight the potential of performing drug screens and other tests on the tumor organoids, noting that "[o]rganoid technology could fill the gap between cancer genetics and patient trials, complement cell-line- and xenograft-based drug studies, and allow personalized therapy design."

By sequencing the genome of a 35,000-year-old wolf sample from Siberia, an American and Swedish team saw hints that dog domestication may have started much earlier than previously believed. As they report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, the researchers sequenced an ancient wolf rib bone from an individual known as Taimyr1 and compared the genomic and mitochondrial DNA sequences it contained to those found in other sequenced dogs and wolves. From these relationships, the group estimated that the wolf belonged to a lineage that split from the domestic dog and gray wolf lineage at around the same time those lineages diverged from one another. GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.

A Quebec team used restriction-site associated DNA sequencing and a genome-wide association analysis to better understand the American eel's genetic adaptation to fresh or brackish, salty water — an ability previously chalked up to phenotypic plasticity. Through an analysis of American eels collected at different life stages in at sites in Atlantic Canada and the St. Lawrence River regions, the researchers narrowed in on more than 300 loci that seem to correspond to different eel ecotypes. The SNPs fell in and around at least 100 genes involved in processes such as calcium regulation, physical development, transcriptional regulation, and scent detection, the study's authors note. For more on this work, head to GenomeWeb's coverage here.