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This Week in PNAS : Apr 10, 2012

In a paper published online in advance in PNAS this week, a team led by investigators at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center identifies a heritable genomic feature predisposing overexpression of the brain and acute leukemia cytoplasmic gene, BAALC. "We show that BAALC overexpression occurs in the presence of the T allele of SNP rs62527607[GT], which creates a binding site for the activating RUNX1 transcription factor in the BAALC promoter region," the authors write.

Elsewhere, a team led by researchers at the University of Chicago highlights the importance of molecular response to social conditions in the context of gene regulatory variation in the rhesus macaque immune system. Studying 10 social groups of female macaques in which each individual's social dominance could be controlled, the Chicago-led team found that "dominance rank results in a widespread, yet plastic, imprint on gene regulation, such that peripheral blood mononuclear cell gene expression data alone predict social status with 80 percent accuracy." The team also "explored the possible contribution of DNA methylation levels to these effects," identifying global associations between dominance rank and methylation profiles, which "suggest epigenetic flexibility in response to status-related behavioral cues."

Barret Pfeiffer, James Truman, and Gerald Rubin at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus show in PNAS this week that "several well-characterized sequence elements derived from plant and insect viruses are able to function in Drosophila to increase the apparent translational efficiency of mRNAs by as much as 20-fold."

The Scan

Taking Stock of the Stockpile

The US and European countries are evaluating their smallpox vaccine stockpiles as the number of monkeypox cases increases, the Washington Post reports.

Vitamin D From Tomatoes

According to Reuters, researchers in the UK have gene-edited tomatoes so their fruit contains vitamin D.

Cause Not Yet Spotted

NPR reports that a new study was unable to find a cause for persistent long COVID symptoms.

PNAS Papers on Central African Hunter-Gatherers, Myopia Development, Ancient Microtia Allele

In PNAS this week: population patterns among Central African hunter gatherers, effect of myopia-linked gene variant, and more.