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This Week in PLOS: Sep 29, 2014

In PLOS Genetics, an international team led by investigators in the UK and Argentina describe population structure, ancestry profiles, and admixture patterns detected through SNP testing on more than 7,300 individuals from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Using information at a few dozen informative SNPs, the researchers estimated relative proportions of African, European, and Native American ancestry in the genomes of those tested, looking at not only at population structure, but also at ancestry patterns associated with individuals' physical traits and self-reported ancestry. While individuals' perception of their own ancestry often correlated with genetic information, for instance, the study's authors found that "certain physical attributes have a strong impact on self-perception and bias self-perception of ancestry relative to genetically estimated ancestry."

A PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases study explores relationships amongst Burkholderia mallei bacteria behind a Bahrainian outbreak of a sometimes-deadly equine condition called glanders. A team from Germany, the US, the United Arab Emirates, and Austria combined multi-locus variable tandem repeat genotyping and comparative genome sequencing to assess nine B. mallei samples collected from horses or camels in Bahrain during that 2010 and 2011 outbreak. When they compared these to 15 samples collected in the UAE during a 2004 outbreak, the researchers found evidence for two genetically distinct B. mallei clusters in Bahrain, which appeared to share ancestral ties with isolates involved in the earlier outbreak in the UAE.

A dozen microRNAs expressed in cells with latent Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection contribute to the metabolic shifts found in Kaposi's sarcoma tumors, according to a PLOS One study. UK researchers examined the metabolic consequences of expressing a cluster of 12 KSHV miRNAs in endothelial cells, providing evidence that the miRNAs could dial down oxygen consumption by cells and bolster the uptake of glucose and release of lactate by targeting genes that regulate processes such as mitochondrial biogenesis and aerobic glycolysis. The results "implicate viral microRNAs in the regulation of the cellular metabolism," according to the study's authors, "and highlight new potential avenues to inhibit viral latency."

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.