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This Week in PLoS: Apr 16, 2012

In a paper appearing in PLoS Genetics this week, a large team led by investigators at the University of Colorado at Boulder estimates that "the odds of schizophrenia increase by [around] 17 percent for every 1 percent increase in genome-wide autozygosity," based on its analysis of genome-wide SNP data from 9,388 cases and 12,456 controls. "This association is not due to one or a few regions, but results from many autozygous segments spread throughout the genome, and is consistent with a role for multiple recessive or partially recessive alleles in the etiology of schizophrenia," the authors write.

Elsewhere in the journal, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and their colleagues discuss having performed whole-exome sequencing on 16 individuals with autism, revealing "validated homozygous, potentially pathogenic recessive mutations that segregated perfectly with disease in 4 [out of] 16 families." In addition, the Boston-led team presents "a multidimensional strategy for filtering whole-exome sequence data to find candidate recessive mutations in autism, which may have broader applicability to other complex, heterogeneous disorders."

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and at Rice University sought to discern "how a cell population's growth rate and its subpopulation fractions emerge from the molecular-level kinetics of gene networks and the division rates of single cells." To do so, the researchers "developed and quantitatively characterized an inducible, bistable synthetic gene circuit controlling the expression of a bifunctional antibiotic resistance gene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," they report in PLoS Computational Biology this week. Then, applying a computational approach "to predict cell population fitness and subpopulation fractions in the combination of these environments based on stochastic cellular movement in gene expression space and fitness space," the team "found that knowing the fitness and non-genetic (cellular) memory associated with specific gene expression states were necessary for predicting the overall fitness of cell populations in combined environments."

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.