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This Week in PLOS: Jul 15, 2013

A PLOS One study introduces a polyomavirus capable of causing tracheobronchitis in dolphins. Columbia University's Ian Lipkin and colleagues from Columbia, SeaWorld, and elsewhere identified the virus — dubbed Dolphin polyomavirus 1, or DPyV-1 — in an ailing short-beaked common dolphin calf in San Diego that ultimately succumbed to its infection. Genome sequencing indicated that DPyV-1 is a double-stranded DNA virus in the Polyomavirus genus, while other experiments supported the notion that it can lead to respiratory problems in dolphins and perhaps in other members of the Cetacean order.

German researchers sequenced transcripts from the stink gland of the red flour beetle in an effort to find genes used to produce quinone and other defensive compounds — work that they describe in PLOS Genetics. The group's transcriptome sequencing experiments unearthed more than 500 genes that were expressed in stink gland tissue from the red flour beetle but not in nearby abdominal tissue. When they homed in on 77 differentially expressed genes for further study by RNA interference-based knockdown experiments, the investigators determined that lower-than-usual levels of 67 different genes could alter the composition of one or more scent gland compound. Of those, three genes were shown to be crucial for quinone production.

The genes expressed in blood samples from individuals infected with dengue virus differ during early acute and late acute stages of infection, a PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases study suggests. The group used array-based experiments to compare gene expression profiles in blood samples from dozens of Venezuelan patients with dengue infections that led to relatively mild dengue fever or more severe forms of the disease such as dengue hemorrhagic fever. Results of the analysis indicated that gene expression patterns shift during different stages of infection with the virus, prompting the study's authors to argue that an improved appreciation of such host expression profiles "may be valuable for the future development of diagnostic tools for disease severity."