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This Week in Genome Biology: Jan 27, 2016

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh present evidence suggesting genetics has a role in the phenomenon of height-mediated mate choice, the notion that individuals are particularly attracted to potential mates of roughly the same height. Using genotyping data for more than 13,000 couples, the team estimated that individual genotype accounts for just more than 4 percent of variation in choice of a mate's height. Conversely, the investigators attempted to predict mate height for some 15,437 individuals based on their genotypes — an effort that achieved roughly 13 percent accuracy.

A team from Spain, the US, and Germany describes DNA methylation shifts in cancer cells that appear to affect super-enhancer sequences that regulate genes from sites beyond the promoter region. With the help of whole-genome bisulfite sequencing on primary tumors, cancer cell lines, and normal samples, the researchers identified methylation changes affecting super-enhancer sequences and, in some cases, related transcription factor activity. The study's authors argue that "developing more extensive catalogues of human DNA methylomes at base resolution would help us gain a better understanding of the regulatory functions of DNA methylation beyond those of the most widely studied proximal promoter gene regions."

Finally, Columbia University's David Goldstein and colleagues from the US and Australia describe a method for predicting pathogenic mutations based on location within sub-regions of genes that code for different protein domains. The researchers applied this sub-region residual variation intolerance score, or subRVIS, to analyzing de novo mutations in autism and epileptic encephalopathy datasets, demonstrating that it enhanced estimates of variation intolerance over existing methods. "We anticipate that our methodology will continue to improve as we gain access to more sequencing data," the study's authors say, noting that it may be beneficial to consider additional protein domain features such as tertiary structure.