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This Week in PLoS : Nov 21, 2011

In PLoS Computational Biology this week, Sun Yat-Sen University's Zhiming Dai and Xianhua Dai show that "gene expression divergence is coupled to evolution of DNA structure in coding regions." More specifically, the duo reports its investigation of "the contribution of DNA three-dimensional structural evolution as cis to gene expression divergence" in yeast, in which it found that the two are correlated. The team observed a similar correlation among Drosophila species. "These results reveal the previously unappreciated roles of DNA structure as cis-effects in gene expression," the authors write.

Elsewhere in the journal, researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico show that "imposing gene start consistency improves the accuracy of gene start-site prediction." Using an algorithm that employs a genome majority vote scheme on a set of validated E. coli genes, the team found it could "correct hundreds of gene prediction errors in sets of five or ten genomes while introducing few errors." The Los Alamos team says its approach lends additional accuracy to gene map production.

Over in PLoS One, a team led by investigators at Xi'an Jiaotong University shows in a Chinese population that six SNPs in the obesity-associated FTO gene are also significantly associated with hip bone mineral density. "These six SNPs are all located at the intron 8 of FTO and in high linkage disequilibrium," the authors write. The team adds that none of those SNPs showed significant associtation with bone mineral density in a Caucasian sample, however.

And in PLoS Genetics this week, the University of Minnesota's Nathan Springer and his colleagues provide "evidence for naturally occurring epigenetic variation in maize, including examples of pure epigenetic variation that is not conditioned by genetic differences." The team adds that "the epigenetic differences are variable within maize populations and exhibit relatively stable trans-generational inheritance."

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.