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This Week in PNAS: Dec 13, 2011

In a paper published online in advance in PNAS this week, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Robert Frost and Eric Olson show that the Let-7 family of miRNAs "regulates glucose metabolism in multiple organs." In a mouse model, Frost and Olson found evidence to suggest "anti-miR-induced Let-7 knockdown as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus."

Leicester University's Massimiliano Agostini and his colleagues show that in mice, "overexpression of miR-34a alters hippocampal spinal morphology, and results in electrophysiological changes consistent with a reduction in spinal function." Agostini et al. also present data that "reinforce a role for miR-34a in neuronal development."

Elsewhere in this week's PNAS Early Edition, an international team led by investigators at Qufu Normal University in China report their use of quantitative RT-PCR and RNA-seq, with which they found that GPRF1 through GPRF5 are up-regulated in diploid and allopolyploid cotton, Gossypium. "This parallel up-regulation of an entire gene family in multiple species in response to strong directional selection is without precedent and suggests unwitting selection on one or more upstream transcription factors or other proteins that coordinately exercise control over profilin expression," the authors write.

Finally, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and Rice University in Houston, Texas, show that "antagonistic gene transcripts regulate adaptation to new growth environments." More specifically, in an S. cerevisiae model, the UCSD-Rice team found that "spatial regulation of GAL1 and CLN3 transcripts is what allows growth to be maintained during fluctuations of glucose availability," the authors write.

The Scan

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.

Researchers Retrace Key Mutations in Reassorted H1N1 Swine Flu Virus With Avian-Like Features

Mutations in the acidic polymerase-coding gene boost the pathogenicity and transmissibility of Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza viruses, a PNAS paper finds.

Genome Sequences Reveal Evolutionary History of South America's Canids

An analysis in PNAS of South American canid species' genomes offers a look at their evolutionary history, as well as their relationships and adaptations.

Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

In non-small cell lung cancer patients, researchers find in JCO Precision Oncology that survival benefits after immune checkpoint blockade coincide with a dip in ctDNA levels.