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This Week in PLoS: Sep 1, 2009

Stanford's Keyan Salari writes in PLoS Medicine that clinician training needs to change so that physicians are prepared to practice in personalized medicine and handle results from consumer genetic tests. "Fundamental training in genetics and genomics, along with the attendant medical, legal, ethical, and psychosocial issues, should fall within the purview of medical school education. Moreover, such education should continue longitudinally throughout clinical training, including residency, fellowship, and continuing medical education programs, to reinforce concepts and target physicians who have already completed their clinical training," Salari writes.

A perspective in PLoS Computational Biology discusses bioinformatics activities in Malaysia that began in the 1990s. First spurred by academic and private initiatives, bioinformatics in Malaysia is now also encouraged by government programs. To develop the field, attention is being paid to incorporate Malaysia's biodiversity, give tax incentives to companies, and provide education.

Researchers led by Wendy Thomas developed a computational method to predict the structure of a protein's allosteric state by knowing another state and to provide a map of the free energy landscape of the allosteric transition. She and her colleagues report that by using Rosetta high-resolution structure prediction methodology, they "can reproduce conformational transitions for three proteins in which significant allosteric structural changes occur, particularly when provided information on which regions change the most in the allosteric transition." This work appears in PLoS Computational Biology.

In PLoS Genetics, Stephanie London and her colleagues report on a genome-wide association study of asthma in Mexican children. Though no SNP met genome-wide significance in their study of nearly 500 case-parent trios, the researchers did identify a candidate region, chromosome 9q21.31. Many SNPs with low, but not significant, p-values were found in that region, upstream of the TLE4 gene. "This region may underlie ethnic differences in childhood asthma, and emphasizes the presence of multiple genetic risk factors in the complex mechanism leading to childhood asthma," the researchers write.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.