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This Week in PLOS: Jul 30, 2012

Scientists from across Italy this week report on their Sanger and next-generation sequencing-based investigation of a series of 116 non-small-cell lung cancer samples. "Our findings suggest that a region in exon 19 is highly unstable in a large proportion of patients carrying EGFR deletions," the authors write in PLOS One.

Over in PLOS Genetics, a team led by investigators at Cancer Research UK discusses "the extent by which transcription of lncRNA loci is retained or lost across multiple evolutionary lineages." The team generated RNA-seq and ChIP-seq data to create catalogues of transcripts expressed in the adult liver of Mus musculus domesticus(C57BL/6J), Mus musculus castaneus, and Rattus norvegicus. The researchers used this to "estimate the rate of transcriptional turnover of lncRNAs and [investigate] the effects of their lineage-specific birth or death," finding that "lncRNA transcription showed considerably greater gain and loss during rodent evolution, compared with protein-coding genes," as they report.

In the same journal, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Abhinav Jain and Michelle Craig Barton comment on a new study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Carla Concepcion et al., which shows that miR-34 plays a redundant function in the p53 pathway. "Overall, the most striking result of p53 loss in vivo is early tumor predisposition in p53−/− mice, which lack genomic surveillance provided by p53-mediated regulation of cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, and senescence," Jain and Barton write in PLOS Genetics.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.