In this week's Science, a team of Danish and US researchers publishes the results of a genetic analysis that sheds light on how Inuit people have adapted to living in Arctic climates and a high-protein and fat diet. The researchers analyzed DNA from 191 Greenlandic Inuit, who have less than five percent European ancestry, and compared the data to individuals of European or Han Chinese descent. They found a number of genes differentially expressed in the Inuit, including ones known to control the conversion of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids into unsaturated fats, and discovered that selection for these genes began before the Inuits diverged from Native Americans. Other genes identified in the analysis included ones that are protective against oxidative stresses associated with high fat intake, ones that boost energy expenditure to combat obesity induced by high-fat diets and related insulin resistance. GenomeWeb has more on this study here.
Also in Science, a Harvard University-led group reports on the use of liquid biopsy to identify a mechanism by which prostate cancer cells develop resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy, a common treatment for the disease. The investigators performed RNA sequence analysis on 77 circulating tumor cells from 13 patients with androgen-resistant cancer. When the results were compared with data from patients with untreated cancer, they discovered activation of the Wnt pathway — which regulates cell survival, proliferation, and motility — in the treatment-resistant group. In separate experiments, the team found that enhancing Wnt signaling boosted prostate cancer cell survival even in the presence of an androgen inhibitor, while suppressing the pathway reduced cellular proliferation. GenomeWeb also covers this here.