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This Week in PLoS: Jun 20, 2011

In PLoS One this week, the University of Amsterdam's Edoardo Saccenti et al. present a method for simplivariate model generation "that finds sets of variables containing informative variation," which is "subsequently expressed in easily interpretable simplivariate components." The team also presents an implementation of its simplivariate models in which the "informative variation is described by multiplicative models that can adequately represent the relations between functional genomics data," Saccenti et al. write.

Over in PLoS Genetics, Columbia University's Richard Poole and his colleagues report this week on a "genome-wide RNAi screen for factors involved in neuronal specification in Caenorhabditis elegans." In screening an RNAi library that knocked down 18,179 genes, Poole et al. found 245 genes that affect ASEL neuron development. "Our study represents the first comprehensive, genome-wide analysis of a single neuronal cell fate decision," the authors write.

Frederic Bertels and Paul Rainey at Massey University at Albany in New Zealand discuss a "new family of miniature mobile DNA in bacteria," which they've dubbed REPINs — for repetitive extragenic palindromic doublets forming hairpins. By investigating the proximal relationship between three distinct groups of REPINs "and specific REP [repetitive extragenic palindromic]-associated tyrosine transposases," Bertels and Rainey found evidence to suggest a "mechanism for within-genome dissemination" of these miniature mobile DNA elements.

A team led by investigators at Wake Forest School of Medicine report SNPs associated with non-diabetic end-stage renal disease in African Americans as well as a "role for FRMD3 in ... susceptibility and [how] accounting for c22 [chromosome 22] nephropathy risk variants can assist in detecting DN [diabetic nephropathy] susceptibility genes." The Wake Forest-led team also says that type 2 diabetic nephropathy-associated FRMD3 SNPs were only detectable in African Americans once MYH9 and the differential effects for APOL1 are accounted for.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.