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This Week in PLOS: Apr 22, 2013

A University of California, San Francisco-led team interrogated SNPs in 17 candidate genes as part of its search for genetic and other factors contributing to lymphedema risk in women treated for breast cancer. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers unearthed lymphedema-associated variants in four lymphatic and/or blood vessel formation-related genes after testing more than 150 breast cancer patients with lymphedema and 387 breast cancer patients without the lymphatic blockage condition. Along with the apparent risk variants, the team notes that women with more lymph nodes removed during treatment appeared to be at higher-than-usual lymphedema risk. So, too, were those who were heavier and/or had later stage breast cancers.

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Ireland, the UK, Canada, and France describe findings from a genome sequencing-based analysis of Salmonella enterica. By sequencing 73 isolates of a S. enterica serovar called Agona — collected during five foodborne infection outbreaks, from individuals or animals with sporadic infections, or from environmental sources — the team delved into details of past outbreaks and tallied up genetic diversity in the gastroenteritis-causing bug. For instance, their results suggest the outbreaks considered in the current study involved genetically different versions of S. enterica. Even so, outbreak strain diversity appeared to be lower than that predicted by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, which seems to pick up variation in the bug's accessory genome rather than from core sequences containing outbreak-related determinants.

The simian Treponema strain Fribourg-Blanc is most genetically similarly to the T. pallidum sub-species that causes yaws in humans, according to a study in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Investigators from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and Washington University School of Medicine generated a high-quality genome sequence for the Fribourg-Blanc strain. When they compared the genome sequences for representatives from the T. pallidum sub-species that cause syphilis (pallidum) or yaws (pertenue), researchers found that the Fribourg-Blanc strain clustered most closely with the yaws-causing pertenue sub-species. "[W]e propose to rename the unclassified simian isolate to T. pallidum ssp. pertenue strain Fribourg-Blanc," authors of the study say, noting that "non-human primates could serve as possible reservoirs of [yaws-causing] strains."