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This Week in Nature: Dec 7, 2017

In Nature Methods this week, a group led by Harvard Medical School researchers presents NetSig, a statistic that combines cancer mutation data and molecular network information to enable discovery from cancer genomes. Using NetSig, the team was able to classify known driver genes in 60 percent of tested tumor types and predict 62 new driver candidates. They also used the tool to determine in vivo tumorigenic potential in mice, finding that NetSig candidates induce tumors at rates that are comparable to those of known oncogenes and are 10-fold higher than those of random genes.

And in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of Japanese scientists presents the draft genomes of the ribbon worm Notospermus geniculatus and the horseshoe worm Phoronis australis, offering new insights into the evolution and origin of bilaterian heads. Both organisms belong to the protostome clade lophotrochozoans, and the researchers show that lophotrochozoans share many gene families with deuterostomes, suggesting that the two groups retain a core bilaterian gene repertoire that ecdysozoans like nematodes and platyzoans do not. Comparative transcriptomics, meanwhile, revealed that lophophores of horseshoe worms and brachiopods — another kind of lophotrochozoan — are similar both morphologically and molecularly. Overall, "our study reveals a dual nature of lophotrochozoans, where conserved and lineage-specific features shape their evolution," the authors write.