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This Week in PLOS: Mar 11, 2014

Northwestern University's Serdar Bulun and colleagues used array-based methylation and gene expression profiling for a PLOS Genetics study aimed at identifying epigenetic shifts associated with endometriosis. By comparing endometriosis samples — the altered endometrial tissue that grows outside the uterus in affected individuals — with healthy endometrial tissue, the group narrowed in on more than 400 genes with disease-associated methylation and expression changes. Among them were transcription factor genes from the GATA family, genes implicated in endometriosis, and components of pathways known for mediating hormone responses during menstruation. "The unique epigenetic fingerprint in endometriosis suggests DNA methylation is an integral component of the disease," the study's authors say, "and identifies a novel role for the GATA family as key regulators of uterine physiology."

A team from the UK, US, and Cyprus describe efforts to untangle Anopheles gambiae gene effects on that mosquito species' response to infection by Serratia marcescens bacteria in PLOS Pathogens. After using SNP and gene expression data to narrow in on almost 140 mosquito genes suspected of contributing to mosquito gut response to the pathogen, the researchers turned to RNA interference-based silencing and high-throughput sequencing to further untangle epithelial cell processes in the mosquito gut that mediate the infection. "Our findings reveal that the mosquito response to Serratia infection comprises both an epithelial and a behavioral immune component," they write.

A PLOS One study looks at gene expression profiles associated with peach flower color variegation. Chinese researchers performed transcriptome sequencing on white and red flower petals that had been collected from the same variegated peach tree, uncovering more than 500 genes with differential expression in the red and white petals, including several genes related to flavonoid compound synthesis. "We believe this transcriptome dataset will continue to provide unique insights into the molecular mechanisms controlling variegated flower pigmentation," they conclude, "and will eventually help the molecular engineering of variegated plants."