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This Week in Nature: Mar 22, 2018

In this week's Nature, an international research team presents the sequenced genomes of five Neanderthals, uncovering new details about the genetic history of the archaic humans. The researchers sequenced the genomes of five Neanderthals who lived around 39,000 years to 47,000 years ago in Belgium, France, Croatia, and the Russian Caucasus, and compared them them with the genome of an older Neanderthal from the Caucasus. Their analysis suggests that the bulk of Neanderthal gene flow into early modern humans originated from one or more source populations that diverged from the five Neanderthals in this study at least 70,000 years ago. The researchers also note that they found no evidence of any recent gene flow from early modern humans into Neanderthals. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.

And in Nature Communications, a group of Chinese investigators reports the sequencing and analysis of the American cockroach, providing insights into how the insect has adapted to urban environments. In their study, the researchers show that the American cockroach has the second largest sequenced insect genome after the locust, and identify gene families likely associated with environmental adaptation — such as chemoreception and detoxification — that have undergone expansion. They also found signaling pathways involved in development and regeneration, as well as a high level of sequence identity in genes between the American cockroach and two termite species. GenomeWeb also covers this, here.

The Scan

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.

Australian Survey Points to Public Support for Genetic Risk Disclosure in Relatives of At-Risk Individuals

A survey in the European Journal of Human Genetics suggests most adult Australians are in favor of finding out if a relative tests positive for a medically actionable genetic variant.

Study Links Evolution of Stony Coral Skeleton to Bicarbonate Transporter Gene

A PNAS paper focuses on a skeleton-related bicarbonate transporter gene introduced to stony coral ancestors by tandem duplication.

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.