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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

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.