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This Week in PLoS: Feb 15, 2010

In PLoS Genetics this week, an international team reports their discovery of a SNP within the ACACB gene that is associated with proteinuria in patients with type 2 diabetes. The paper represents research from nine independent studies — four from Japan, one from Singapore, one from Korea, and two from Europe ― of patients with type 2 diabetes, which all confer to suggest that ACACB is a strong candidate for determining susceptibility to proteinuria.

Also in PLoS Genetics, German researchers establish nucleoporins as global gene expression regulators in Drosophila melanogaster. By performing chromatin-immunoprecipitation and microarray hybridization studies, the team shows that nucleoporin-associated regions are populated by markers for active transcription, including high RNA polymerase II occupancy and H4K16 acetylation. Using 3D imaging techniques, the researchers also show that NARs contribute to gene expression control without respect to their localization.

Meanwhile, in PLoS Pathogens, Gunnar Mair, formerly of the Leiden Malaria Research Group at the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands, and his colleagues suggest that translational repression may be a target for transmission-blocking strategies to limit the spread of malaria. Using affinity purification and mass spectrometry techniques, Mair’s group was able to identify a messenger ribonuceloprotein in the gametocytes of Plasmodium berghei ― a unicellular malaria parasite. Mair et al. write that Plasmodium granules store translationally silent messenger RNAs that are critical during the initial stages of mosquito infection.

Scripps Research Institute investigators describe the folding of mRNA secondary structures in vitro and in vivo in PLoS Biology this week. With experimental probes, the team found that both upstream and downstream structures were equally as effective in blocking ribosome assembly in vivo. They write that this finding suggests “that intracellular folding outcomes reflect thermodynamic equilibration or that annealing of contiguous sequences is favored kinetically.”