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This Week in PLOS: Jan 6, 2014

In PLOS Genetics, a team from the US, Canada, and Germany describes findings from a genome-wide screen aimed at uncovering genetic factors behind the production of cell envelopes in Gram-negative bacteria. With the help of a library of Escherichia coli mutants each missing a different gene, the researchers found more than 100 genes that appear to contribute to aspects of cell envelope production in the bug, including one gene that they characterized in more detail. Based on their findings, those involved say the screening approach used for the study "should be readily adaptable to other organisms to study the biogenesis of different envelope architectures."

Researchers from Taiwan and the US used a combination of phosphoproteomic and bioinformatic approaches to wheedle out new information on the spinal cord proteins contributing to morphine tolerance in rats — work that they describe in PLOS One. By assessing phosphorylation profiles in spinal cord fluid from rats that had been coaxed into morphine tolerance through twice daily injections of the drug, the team saw 10 proteins with phosphorylation shifts after these recurrent morphine treatments. The group's bioinformatic analyses indicated that several of those were involved in processes such as cytoskeletal organization, signal transduction, and metabolism.

For another PLOS One study, Chinese researchers used transcriptome sequencing to dig up gene transcripts, simple sequence repeats, and SNPs in a Chinese orchid species called Cymbidium ensifolium. The group did deep messenger RNA sequencing on floral bud and mature flower tissue from C. ensifolium plants — sequences that made it possible to document isoforms from nearly 51,700 genes, along with 7,936 SSRs and almost 16,700 potential SNPs. "To our knowledge, this transcriptome database is the first major genomic resource for C. ensifolium and the most comprehensive transcriptomic resource for genus Cymbidium," the study's authors wrote, noting that the sequences "provide valuable information for understanding the molecular mechanisms of floral development and flowering."