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This Week in PLOS: Sep 30, 2013

A Croatian and American group used a combination of complementary DNA clone sequencing and high-throughput RNA sequencing to track murine cytomegalovirus and host mouse transcriptome patterns during lytic phases of MCMV infection. As they report in PLOS Pathogens, the researchers saw a jump in the transcription of genes with yet-undetermined functions during that infection phase, including a viral transcript that appears to encode a microRNA regulator as well as a previously unknown protein. The mouse host cells, meanwhile, had higher-than-usual expression of immune and inflammation genes, along with non-coding RNAs and genes best known for their role in development or cellular differentiation, study authors note.

A US- and Swiss-led team followed five infants over time in an effort to better understand human cytomegalovirus evolution in the human host — work that they describe in PLOS Genetics. By using a targeted sequencing and population genetic modeling to assess HCMVs in infant samples over time, for instance, the researchers saw that viral populations in blood and urine from the same individual tend to be genetically distinct, though populations found at each site remains relatively stable. This intra-host differentiation was on par with differences in HCMV polymorphism patterns found in viruses infecting different individuals, study authors say, and is suspected to stem from a combination of population bottlenecks and positive selection.

The organization of genes expressed in mammary glands during lactation may contribute to their regulation, according to a PLOS One study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, UC-San Francisco, and Baylor College of Medicine. The team used array-based gene expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing experiments to assess mouse mammary gland cells and liver tissue samples during lactation and pregnancy. Results from these and other experiments uncovered so-called "neighborhoods" of genes expressed in mammary gland cells. They also indicated that genes outside these neighborhoods tended to carry silent chromatin marks during lactation.