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This Week in PLoS: Dec 14, 2010

In PLoS One this week, a research team led by investigators at the University of Maryland School of Medicine show that polymorphisms of CYP19A1, a gene that encodes aromatase, "are associated with survival among patients with cardiovascular disease in a sex-specific manner." In case-control studies, the Maryland-led team genotyped participants for six CYP19A1 SNPs. For one SNP in particular — -81371 C — the team observed a 78 percent increase in mortality for men with acute coronary syndrome, as compared with affected women. The authors say that theirs is the first "study ... to document a significant interaction between CYP19A1 genotype and sex on cardiovascular outcomes."

Investigators at the University of Florida and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., describe their use of "DNA aptamers as molecular probes for colorectal cancer study," which they propose may also help researchers identify biomarkers associated with the disease. The team used cell-SELEX and two colorectal cancer cell lines to select a "panel of target-specific aptamers." Using flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, the team confirmed the molecules' high affinity and selectivity.

Rujuan Dai and colleagues at Virginia Tech report in PLoS One this week on a "common lupus disease-associated microRNA expression pattern in three different murine models." Using miRNA arrays and RT-PCR, the team found a "common set of dysregulated miRNAs" in splenoctyes from the three distinct disease models. These miRNAs — the miR-182-96-183 cluster, as well as miR-31 and miR-155 — form "the basis for the further investigation of the pathogenic contribution of these miRNAs in autoimmune lupus," Dai et al. write.

And in PLoS Genetics this week, researchers at the University of Montreal and their colleagues report their "characterization of a collection of [about] 1,300 independent embryonic stem cell clones enriched for nested chromosomal deletions," which they created using a modified Cre-loxP-based approach. The team writes that this collection spans more than "25 percent of the mouse genome, with good representative coverage of protein-coding genes, regulatory RNAs, and other non-coding sequences," and is available online here.