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This Week in PLoS: Oct 31, 2011

This week in PLoS Genetics, an international team led by investigators at the Broad Institute reports its sequencing of two strains of the fungal pathogen Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and one strain of the related P. lutzii. The researchers mapped 94 percent of their P. brasiliensis Pb18 assembly onto five chromosomes to enable genetic studies, through which they found found "expansions of the fungal-specific kinase family FunK1" within the three Paracoccidioides genomes, the authors write.

Over in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, investigators at McGill University report their generation and annotation of a de novo transcriptome assembly for the murine parasite Heligmosomoides polygyrus — "a convenient experimental model to study immune responses and pathology associated with gastrointestinal nematode infections," the authors say — which they used to interrogate mass spectrometry data derived from 1D-SDS PAGE and LC-MS/MS analysis of its excretory-secretory products. "Together, these findings provide important information that will help to illuminate molecular, biochemical, and in particular immunomodulatory aspects of host-H. polygyrus biology," the authors write. They add that "the methods and analyses presented here are applicable to study biochemical and molecular aspects of the host-parasite relationship in species for which sequence information is not available."

Taking a viral metagenomic approach on a population of 83 wild-caught Drosophila innubila, the University of Rochester's Robert Unckless identified Oryctes rhinoceros Nudivirus as a common and widespread double-stranded DNA virus affecting the fly. "In two species, D. innubila and D. falleni, the virus is associated with a severe ([approximately] 80 percent to 90 percent) loss of fecundity and significantly decreased lifespan," Unckless writes of the DNA virus in PLoS One this week.

In response to recent research and analyses they've published, the editors of PLoS Medicine this week say "speed and convenience aren't everything with diagnostics." The editors write that "in an age when we can sequence an entire genome within a day, we expect to be able to gather and access accurate information at a pace." But when it comes to diagnostics, they question whether "providing an answer quickly is enough to produce meaningful health outcomes." The editors refer to recent PLoS Medicine papers that they say serve to remind the community that "rapidly detecting the cause of an illness is not in itself enough to significantly change health outcomes."

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.