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This Week in PLoS: Oct 17, 2011

In PLoS Genetics this week, an international team led by investigators at the Université de Rennes in France identifies 44 genomic regions that show "extreme differentiation" across multiple domestic dog breeds. In its comparative analysis, the team identified "many blocks of reduced haplotype diversity observed across the genome in dog breeds," which it attributes to both selection and genetic drift. "But extended blocks of homozygosity on a megabase scale appear to be best explained by selection," the group adds.

Elsewhere, a team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics reports evidence to suggest that in humans "gene expression errors are an underestimated phenomenon, in molecular evolution in general and in selection for genomic robustness in particular."

Over in PLoS One, investigators at the University of Virginia and Dartmouth Medical School report their identification of "Soat1 as a quantitative trait locus gene on mouse chromosome 1 contributing to hyperlipidemia." The team sequenced the gene's coding region, identifying four SNPs, two of which cause amino-acid substitutions. "Allelic variants of Soat1 were associated with variations in plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels in an intercross between B6.apoE−/− and C3H.apoE−/− mice," the authors write, adding that "transgenic expression of C3H Soat1 in B6.apoE−/− mice resulted in elevations of plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels."

Elsewhere, investigators at Duke University Medical Center report on their targeted GC-MS-based metabolomics study in which they found that "enteric microbiome metabolites correlate with response to simvastatin treatment." Taken with those from other recent studies, the Duke team says its results show that the "gut microbiome plays an important role in cardiovascular disease, indicate that interactions between genome, gut microbiome and environmental influences should be considered in the study and management of cardiovascular disease."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.