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This Week in PLoS : Dec 12, 2011

In PLoS Biology this week, a team led by investigators at the State University of Campinasi in Brazil uses metagenomics to show that the presence of gut microbiota in TLR2-deficient mice — which, "under germ-free conditions, are protected from diet-induced insulin resistance" — could reverse the animal's phenotype by inducing insulin resistance. "Our results emphasize the role of microbiota in the complex network of molecular and cellular interactions that link genotype to phenotype and have potential implications for common human disorders involving obesity, diabetes, and even other immunological disorders," the authors write.

Over in PLoS One, the European Bioinformatics Institute’s Yasmin Alam-Faruque et al. discuss "the impact of focused gene ontology curation of specific mammalian systems," saying that certain focused GO annotations "have led to an evident improvement of microarray interpretation." The team's re-analysis of such focused curation activities underscores "the need to continue to improve the annotation of the human proteome," the authors add.

In PLoS Genetics this week, the Broad Institute’s Alexander Meissner and his colleagues show that "non-CpG methylation appears to be spatially correlated with CpG methylation" across human cell types.

Elsewhere in the journal, a team led by investigators at the University of Minnesota assesses the "individual and collective effects of variants on height using twins and a developmentally informative study design." Both longitudinal samples and genetically informative study designs are needed "to understand the developmental context of common genetic variants identified through GWAS," and to accurately characterize "the extent to which these variants account for genetic, and not just phenotypic, variance," the authors add.