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This Week in Nature: Jun 4, 2015

In this week's Nature, a team led by researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reports the discovery of noncanonical DNA methylation variation within epigenomic maps of human tissues. They performed deep transcriptome, base-resolution methylome, and genome sequencing on 18 tissue types from four individuals, and discovered widespread tissue-specific differential CG methylation; partially methylated domains, allele-specific methylation and transcription; and the "unexpected presence" of non-CG methylation in almost all human tissues. Overall, the findings show that DNA methylation in several genomic contexts varies substantially between human tissues. GenomeWeb has more on this study here.

Also in Nature, Tufts Medical Center researcher Diana Bianchi highlights the need for improved education for mothers and caregivers about unexpected findings from increasingly available prenatal genetic tests. She notes that such tests, which are designed to provide insights into potential fetal abnormalities, can reveal information about the mother's health. Yet test consent forms "rarely mention" such a possibility, she says. Bianchi calls on professional societies such as the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics to actively address the issue of these incidental findings to "accelerate treatments … rather than just increase the anxiety of thousands of pregnant women."