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This Week in PLoS: Sep 16, 2008

In work published today in PLoS Biology, scientists at Cambridge's Gurdon Institute performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila to identify proteins necessary for centriole duplication and mitotic PCM recruitment. Of the 92 percent of the genome covered, they hit 32 genes involved in centrosome function, including those for centriole duplication, centrosome maturation, and regulation of centrosome separation.

Last week, UCLA's David Eisenberg used computational modeling to predict protein-protein interactions between proteins that belong to large families of paralogs. Using structural information, operon organization, and protein co-evolution to infer the interaction of PE and PPE proteins in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, he predicted 289 PE/PPE complexes out of a possible 5,590 PE/PPE pairs genome-wide. The method, which was published in PLoS Computational Biology, "may be generally useful for detecting interactions of proteins within families having many paralogs," says the abstract.

To prove the hypothesis that the MHC influences mate choice in some human populations, scientists looked at genome-wide genotype data in African and European American couples and found that while African couples show no significant pattern of similarity/dissimilarity across the MHC region, European American couples are significantly more MHC-dissimilar than random pairs of individuals. They published last week in PLoS Genetics.

Finally, an essay in PLoS Medicine looks at informed consent in the genomics era, warning that current standards for IC are no longer good enough. "Release of genetic information could lead to uninsurability, unemployability, discrimination, and the breakdown of family relationships by unintentionally demonstrating missing or unknown relatedness," the authors write.


The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.