In this week's Nature Genetics, an international research team reports the identification of genes underlying different hair colors in humans. The team conducted a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of nearly 300,000 individuals of European descent and identified 123 autosomal and one X-chromosome loci significantly associated with hair color, including ones that act on pigmentation and the creation of melanin. The results "confirm the polygenic nature of complex phenotypes and improve our understanding of melanin pigment metabolism in humans," the authors state. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.
Also in Nature Genetics, researchers from the US, Europe, and Asia publish a study identifying new prostate cancer genes, routes of disease progression, and potential drug targets. The researchers sequenced the whole genomes of 112 primary and metastatic prostate cancer samples, and combined the results with data from previous studies. Among their findings is evidence for 22 previously unidentified putative driver genes harboring coding mutations, driver mutations specifically associated with steps in the progression of prostate cancer, and over 60 targets of compounds that may be active and should be considered candidates for future clinical trials. The Scan also covers this, here.
And in Communications Biology, scientists from the US and Japan present evidence of hybridization between 13-year and 17-year cicadas, which are related, but rarely interact due to their different life cycles. The researchers sequenced RNA from seven periodical cicada species and discovered that hybridization had occured between the 17-year species and its closest 13-year relative, although the cicadas have maintained their respective life cycles since diverging 200,000 years to 100,000 years ago. The researchers did not find a genomic explanation for the life cycle divergence and say a thorough comparison of the whole genomic sequences between closely related 13- and 17-year species would be needed to explored to answer this question.