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This Week in PLOS: Sep 24, 2013

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Germany, the US, and Spain report on fungal evolutionary patterns gleaned through genome and transcriptome sequencing on Pyronema confluens, a filamentous fungal species from the same lineage as the black truffle. The team unearthed some 13,400 predicted protein-coding genes in the 50 million base P. confluens genome assembled for the study. Together with transcriptome data representing a range of developmental stages for the fungus, the genome sequence offered a peek at P. confluens' biological capabilities. Meanwhile, comparisons with sequences from other fungal species provided an evolutionary perspective, pointing to the possibility of particularly rapid changes to genes involved in sexual reproduction.

A PLOS Pathogens study looked at the set of phosphorylated proteins contributing to lytic gammaherpesvirus replication — part of an effort to untangle the phospho-signaling events involved in the process, which is a key step in establishing latent and lifelong forms of infection by the virus. A team from the University of Arkansas used quantitative mass spectrometry to tally up the phosphoproteins involved in lytic replication by murine gammaherpesvirus-68 in a mouse model of disease. To that, the study's authors added network-, bioinformatics-, and transposon mutagenesis-based assessment of this process for the study, aimed at getting a clearer look at the ways gammaherpesviruses "reorganize and usurp intracellular signaling networks to facilitate infection and replication."

Inner Mongolia University researchers used transcriptome sequencing to compare the sets of genes expressed by primary and secondary hair follicle cells from Inner Mongolia cashmere goats belonging to the species Capra hircus — work they describe in PLOS One. By sequencing transcripts from so-called dermal papilla cell lines derived from the cashmere goat's primary hair follicles, which produce the animal's overhair, as well as the secondary hair follicles from which its cashmere underhair springs, the team tracked down genes showing differential expression between the follicle types. Among them were genes involved in vascularization, the study authors noted, as well as genes coding for components of extracellular matrix receptor interaction and signaling pathways.

The Scan

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.

Topical Compound to Block EGFR Inhibitors May Ease Skin Toxicities, Study Finds

A topical treatment described in Science Translational Medicine may limit skin toxicities seen with EGFR inhibitor therapy.

Dozen Genetic Loci Linked to Preeclampsia Risk in New GWAS

An analysis of genome-wide association study data in JAMA Cardiology finds genetic loci linked to preeclampsia that have ties to blood pressure.

Cancer Survival Linked to Mutational Burden in Pan-Cancer Analysis

A pan-cancer paper appearing in JCO Precision Oncology suggests tumor mutation patterns provide clues for predicting cancer survival that are independent of other prognostic factors.