In this week's Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international research team reports the discovery of genomic regions associated with tameness and aggressiveness in foxes. In their study, the scientists focused on red foxes — which have long been bred in captivity — sequencing the genomes of animals that had been bred for either friendliness or aggressiveness toward humans, and a population that had not been selected for any particular behavior. When they compare these genomes to a reference red fox genome, the researchers find 103 regions with either significantly decreased heterozygosity in one of the three populations or increased divergence between the populations. One gene in particular was found to be a strong candidate for tame behavior and is a known regulator of proteins involved in neuronal communication. The findings, the authors say, provide insights into the evolution and regulation of mammalian social behaviors. The Scan has more on this, here.
And in Nature, a group led by Broad Institute investigators publishes a study highlighting genetic variations in human cancer cell lines and showing that these differences can result in variable drug responses. The researchers used genomic analyses of 106 human cell lines grown in two laboratories to demonstrate extensive clonal diversity, while additional comprehensive genomic characterization of multiple strains of different cell lines — including a commonly used breast cancer cell line — uncovered rapid genetic diversification. Notably, when strains of the breast cancer cell line were tested against hundreds of anti-cancer compounds, the investigators found considerably different drug responses. Taken together, the data show that genomic evolution leads to a high degree of variation across cancer cell line strains, which must be considered in experimental design and data interpretation, the team concludes. GenomeWeb also covers this, here.