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This Week in PLoS: Nov 28, 2011

The University of Maryland School of Medicine's Brandi Cantarel and her colleagues benchmark "several strategies for increasing microbial peptide spectral matching in metaproteomic datasets using protein predictions generated from matched metagenomic sequences from the same human fecal samples" in PLoS One this week. Cantarel et al. also discuss the impact of mass spec-based filters and de novo peptide sequencing "on the number and robustness of peptide-spectrum assignments in these complex datasets."

In another proteomics paper appearing in PLoS One, a team led by investigators at the University of Washington presents its investigation of "differential proteins associated with mild and severe chronic pancreatitis in comparison with normal pancreas and pancreatic cancer." The team says its study highlights a group of differentially expressed proteins and related pathways "that may shed light on the pathogenesis of chronic pancreatitis and the common molecular events associated with chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic adenocarcinoma."

Over in PLoS Biology, David Brang and V. S. Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego, discuss the genetics of synesthesia – a "perceptual experience in which stimuli presented through one modality will spontaneously evoke sensations in an unrelated modality," they write. According to Brang and Ramachandran, genetic research on the phenomenon has suggested it is heterogeneous and polygenetic, "yet it remains unclear whether synesthesia ever provided a selective advantage or is merely a byproduct of some other useful selected trait," they say, adding that further work is needed to elucidate why the trait has been conserved in the population.

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.