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This Week in PLoS: Mar 5, 2012

In PLoS Biology this week, investigators at MD Anderson Cancer Center and their collaborators show that "p53 plays an active role in promoting differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and opposing self-renewal by regulation of specific target genes and microRNAs." Further, the team writes, "p53 activates expression of miR-34a and miR-145, which in turn repress stem cell factors OCT4, KLF4, LIN28A, and SOX2 and prevent backsliding to pluripotency." and This study "underscores the importance of a p53-regulated network in determining the human stem cell state," the authors add.

In PLoS Genetics this week, a team led by researchers at Harvard Medical School presents its genomic characterization of the filamentous fungal endophyte Ascocoryne sarcoides. "This is one of the highest quality fungal genomes and, to our knowledge, the only thoroughly annotated and transcriptionally profiled fungal endophyte genome currently available," the authors write. "The analyses and datasets contribute to the study of cellulose degradation and biofuel production and provide the genomic foundation for the study of a model endophyte system."

Also in PLoS Genetics, University of California, San Diego's Jason Chan and Richard Kolodner show that multiplex ligation-dependent probe smplification "is a versatile technique for the rapid analysis of GCRs [gross chromosomal rearrangements] and can facilitate the genetic analysis of the pathways that prevent and promote GCRs and aneuploidy."

And in PLoS One this week, investigators at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and elsewhere show that "genomic regions associated with multiple sclerosis are active in B cells," and add that analyses like theirs "in other immunological cell types relevant to MS and functional studies are necessary to fully elucidate how genes contribute to MS pathogenesis."

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.