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This Week in PNAS : May 1, 2012

In a paper published online in advance in PNAS this week, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign present "an experimental approach based on multicolor single-molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization to study the composition of viral RNAs at single-virus particle resolution." The team applied its FISH-based approach to determine the copy number of each RNA segment within individual virus particles for the wild-type influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34, or PR8, as well as for a recombinant PR8 virus. Overall, the researchers found evidence to suggest "that for the majority of the virus particles, only one copy of each RNA segment is packaged into one virus particle," which they say supports the idea that "the packaging of influenza viral genome is a selective process."

Elsewhere in this week's Early Edition, David Pollock at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and his colleagues Grant Thiltgen and Richard Goldstein at London's National Institute for Medical Research show that the process of amino acid replacement in proteins functions under an evolutionary Stokes shift, which they say "has profound implications for the study of protein evolution and the modeling of evolutionary processes."

An international team led by investigators at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., this week show that "lysine acetylation of the oncogenic transcription factor STAT3 is elevated in tumors," and that its inhibition by resveratrol results in demethylation. Overall, the City of Hope-led team says its findings "provide a rationale for targeting acetylated STAT3 for chemoprevention and cancer therapy."

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.