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This Week in PLOS: Feb 24, 2014

A PLOS Genetics study suggests some of the same genes dialed up in central nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and schizophrenia have decreased expression in lung, prostate, and/or colorectal cancers (and vice versa), consistent with inverse co-morbidities for such conditions proposed from past epidemiological studies. A team from Spain and France brought together multiple array-based gene expression datasets for a transcriptomic meta-analysis of the three cancers and three CNS conditions. The analysis highlighted 19 genes with low expression in the cancer and elevated expression in samples from those with one of the CNS diseases. The researchers also uncovered 94 CNS-down-regulated genes with higher-than-usual expression in the cancers.

A team from US and the Netherlands used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to follow gut microbial changes over time in dozens of individuals with or without HIV infections. As they reported in PLOS Pathogens, the researchers looked at microbial community members found in gastrointestinal mucous and lumin samples from 21 HIV-positive and 22 HIV-negative individuals. Their results revealed HIV infection-associated shifts in microbial communities in various regions of the gastrointestinal tract, along with changes in microbial pathways present in the gut that appeared to coincide with clinical features of infection and exposure to antiretroviral treatment.

In PLOS One, researchers from China and the US describe findings from an effort to characterize a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain involved in a case of community-acquired infection that progressed to sepsis and severe pneumonia. The team used a combination of multi-locus sequencing typing and whole-genome sequencing to interrogate the MRSA isolate, dubbed SA268, which was obtained from the affected Chinese patient's blood. Findings from the study indicate that the bug belongs to a sequence type common to eastern Asia and shares many genomic features with strains in Taiwan, though a few key gene differences were detected as well.