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This Week in Science: Nov 21, 2014

In this week's Science, a team led by the University of Washington's John Stamatoyannopoulos reports on a study comparing regions of mouse and human DNA that control gene expression, finding that about a third of them are conserved between the two species. Working in conjunction with the Mouse ENCODE Consortium, the researchers mapped the mouse regulatory DNA landscape in 45 mouse cell and tissue types using sites called DNAse I hypersensitive sites (DHSs), which typically mark gene regulatory regions. The findings were compared with DHS maps from corresponding human cells and tissues. Notably, some of the shared DHSs were farther from the genes they influenced than were DHSs that weren't shared, suggesting that the DHSs that have been conserved throughout mammalian evolutionary history may be functionally different from DHSs closer to the gene they control. GenomeWeb has more on the Mouse ENCODE papers here.

Also in Science, a Harvard Medical School group reports data showing that epigenetic information can be transmitted through histone modifications independently of DNA sequence, DNA methylation, or RNAi. In fission yeast, they showed that ectopically induced domains for histone H3 lysine 9 methylation — a conserved marker of heterochromatin — are inherited through mitotic and meiotic cell divisions even after the removal of the sequence-specific initiator.

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.