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This Week in PNAS: Nov 29, 2011

An international team led by investigators at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, this week reports its analysis of a microarray data set for 281 prostate cancers from a Swedish watchful-waiting cohort. The team classified patients based on their "mRNA microarray signature profiles indicating embryonic stem cell expression patterns, inactivation of the tumor suppressors p53 and PTEN, activation of several oncogenic pathways, and the TMPRSS2–ERG fusion." Overall, the team presents in PNAS an approach for the molecular classification of prostate cancers that is independent of Gleason score.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore and elsewhere show in the PNAS Early Edition that a "common oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphism and social support interact to reduce stress in humans." The international team presents evidence to suggest "that genetic variation of the oxytocin system modulates the effectiveness of positive social interaction as a protective buffer against a stressful experience."

The National Cancer Institute's Jung-Hyun Kim and his colleagues demonstrate the utility of a human artificial chromosome-based vector with a unique gene acceptor site for the "delivery of full-length genes and correction of genetic deficiencies in human cells." Kim et al. write in PNAS this week that their approach to the generation of human artificial chromosomes "should be suitable for studies of gene function and therapeutic applications."

Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco, and elsewhere this week report their use of engineered biomass-degrading, hydrocarbon-producing E. coli to produce three biofuels from switchgrass. The team says that "along with chromosomal integration of the biomass-consumption pathways," the engineering process they chose "should also improve the genetic stability of our modifications as well as their suitability for industrial-scale fermentations."

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.