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This Week in PLOS: Aug 27, 2012

Researchers in Hong Kong report in PLOS One on using a metagenomic-based approach to identify a novel bat papillomavirus. They sequenced DNA collected from rectal swabs of 156 healthy animals, including cattle, bats, pigs, monkeys, stray cats, and stray dogs. From this, the researchers identified the papillomavirus MscPV1, which has a 52.4 percent nucleotide identity with the fruit bat papillomavirus RaPV1. According to classification criteria, the researchers add that MscPV1 is the first known member of a new genus, Dyolambda-papillomavirus. "Given the possibilities of asymptomatic carriage and long-distance, interspecies transmission, further studies are warranted to elucidate the evolutionary origin and epidemiology of this newly proposed genus of bat PV," they add.

Over in PLOS Pathogens, researchers led by Los Alamos National Laboratory's Alan Perelson present their estimation of the in vivo mutation rate of the hepatitis C virus. They studied the viral dynamics and viral diversification in 17 people with early, acute infections and used that to determine that the median mutation rate was 2.5×10-5 mutations per nucleotide per replication cycle, which the researchers note is similar to other RNA viruses.

In a related PLOS Pathogens article, investigators report using single genome sequencing to study hepatitis C virus transmission in 17 patients. From this, they report that the median multiplicity of infection was 4. "Surprisingly, we found evidence of high multiplicity acute-to-acute HCV transmission in 3 of 17 subjects, which suggests that clinical transmission of HCV, like that of HIV-1, may be enhanced in early infection when virus titers are highest and neutralizing antibodies are absent," the investigators write.

The Scan

Unwrapping Mummies' Faces

LiveScience reports that Parabon NanoLabs researchers have reconstructed how three Egyptian mummies may have looked.

Study on Hold

The Spectrum 10K study has been put on hold due to a backlash, leading the researchers to conduct consultations with the autism community, Nature News reports.

Others Out There Already

Reuters reports that Sanofi is no longer developing an mRNA-based vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.

PNAS Papers on GWAS False Discovery, PRAMEF2 Role in Tumorigenesis, RNA Virus Reverse Genetics

In PNAS this week: strategy to account for GWAS false-discovery rates, role of PRAMEF2 in cancer development, and more.