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This Week in PLoS : Jul 2, 2012

In a paper published online in advance in PLoS One this week, researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentariain in Madrid investigate whether populations of mutagenized foot-and-mouth disease virus, or FMDV, display changes in their virulence in mice. Overall, the INIA team found that "ribavirin-mediated mutagenesis of an FMDV population resulted in attenuation in vivo, albeit a large proportion of its biological clones displayed a highly virulent phenotype."

Over in PLoS Pathogens, University of Arizona's Guan-Zhu Han and Michael Worobey report on their identification of a coelacanth endogenous foamy-like virus, or CoeEFV, in the Latimeria chalumnae genome. "Phylogenetic analyses place CoeEFV basal to all known foamy viruses, strongly suggesting an ancient ocean origin of this major retroviral lineage, which had previously been known to infect only land mammals," Han and Worobey write.

And in PLoS Genetics, investigators from University Medical Center Utrecht report on their construction of a high-density transposon mutant library in Enterococcus faecium and development of a transposon mutant tracking approach, termed microarray-based transposon mapping, with which they identified "a compendium of E. faecium genes that contribute to ampicillin resistance." The authors say that their investigation "has led to the development of a broadly applicable platform for functional genomic-based studies in E. faecium, and it provides a new perspective on the genetic basis of ampicillin resistance in this organism."

Elsewhere in the same journal, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences present evidence to suggest that the genes Prestin and KCNQ4, which are associated with voltage motility during the cochlear amplification of signals, evolved in both bats and toothed whales in parallel. Combining sequence and expression analyses, the team found that "positive selection, parallel evolution, and perhaps co-evolution and gene expression affect multiple hearing genes that play different roles in audition, including voltage and bundle motility in cochlear amplification, nerve transmission, and brain function," it writes in PLoS Genetics.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.