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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

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.