Relaxation practices such as yoga, meditation, and repetitive prayer are associated with shifts in the expression of metabolic, immune, and stress response pathways genes, according to a study in PLOS One. A Massachusetts-led team did array-based gene expression analyses on blood samples from 26 healthy individuals over eight weeks, as each embarked on a relaxation response program. This gene expression data, coupled with a systems biology network analysis, suggest that both short and longer term relaxation practices can produce a dip in the stress response and inflammation-related gene expression, along with a boost in the expression of certain metabolic, insulin, and mitochondrial genes.
Researchers from Brazil and France looked at the relationship between a Chagas disease-causing parasite and its insect host for another PLOS One study. The team developed complementary DNA libraries with RNA from the guts of Triatoma infestans insects that did or did not carry the Chagas disease parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. The resulting expressed sequence tag data revealed genes with an uptick or decline in expression in the infected insects. The study's authors also saw metabolic- and immune-related transcripts with similar expression profiles under both conditions. "[T]his work provides the first global analysis of expression profiles from the midgut of a Chagas disease vector under T. cruzi infection," they write, "with a resulting repertoire of transcripts that are important in the elucidation of metabolic processes in T. infestans."
In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Canada and the US describe the approach they used to look at the interplay between nucleosome architecture and transcriptional regulation. The team tracked nucleosome position patterns in dozens of yeast strains carrying loss-of-function deletions or conditional mutations to genes influencing histone, chromatin, or transcription-related processes. Together with information on yeast strains treated with compounds known to alter some of the same pathways, findings from the experiment "confirm and extend the roles of chromatin remodelers and chaperones as major determinants of genic nucleosome positioning," the researchers write, "and these data provide a valuable resource for future studies."