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This Week in PLoS: Mar 14, 2011

In PLoS One this week, investigators at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere report on a microdroplet-based method they've developed to rapidly isolate viable single cells from heterogeneous solutions in order to obtain total RNA from them. The team says its method, performed on an automated platform, enables "high-throughput cell manipulation for subsequent genomic analysis" and requires "fewer handling steps compared to existing methods."

Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and their collaborators this week describe their use of "factor analysis to obtain a unified gene expression measure from multiple platforms." By combining cross-platform gene expression data, the team says it obtained a more accurate estimate of expression levels, and its downstream analyses were simplified. The unified gene expression measure, the team writes, "is shown to perform well in terms of accuracy and precision." Further, the team says that the factor analysis "model produces parameter estimates that allow the assessment of the model fit."

In another PLoS One paper published this week, investigators at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine report their use of gene-trap mutagenesis to identify "mammalian genes contributing to intoxication by Clostridium perfringens ε-toxin." In particular, the team found that the hepatitis A virus cellular receptor gene is overexpressed in toxin-resistant kidney cell lines. "The results of this study indicate that HAVCR1 and the other genes identified through the use of gene-trap mutagenesis ... [are] important targets for investigation of the process by which ε-toxin induces cell death and new targets for potential therapeutic intervention," the authors write.

Over in PLoS Biology, an international team led by researchers at Cornell University presents its analysis of the three-gene APL1 locus in Anopheles gambiae, and its role in the mosquito's immune defense against malaria parasites. As the locus is "extremely polymorphic," it indicates adaptive evolutionary maintenance of genetic variation, the team writes. Furthermore, the researchers suggest that "this variability aids in defense against genetically diverse pathogens, including the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.