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This Week in PNAS: Nov 13, 2012

In the early, online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Georgia and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explore the routes that rabies virus uses to establish itself in new host species. The team performed phylogenetic analyses using specific sequences from the genomes of almost 200 viral isolates from 30 bat rabies lineages to assess the evolutionary patterns that accompanied rabies adaptation to New World bat hosts. "Our results point to multiple evolutionary routes to host establishment in a zoonotic RNA virus that may influence the speed of viral emergence," University of Georgia ecologist Daniel Streicker and colleagues say.

An international team led by investigators in Germany reports on the detection of plant resistance genes that may be activated by proteins produced by bacterial pathogens from the Xanthomonas genus. The team relied on RNA sequencing in their search for genes activated by these Xanthomonas proteins — known as transcription activator-like effector, or TALE, proteins. In the pepper plant, for instance, the group demonstrated that it could use its strategy to track down a candidate resistance gene called Bs4C that seems to be transcriptionally activated by a Xanthomonas TALE protein known as AvrBs4.

For another PNAS study, Washington University School of Medicine researchers provide a look at evolutionarily conserved microRNA and gene expression profiles associated with the heart's response to stress. Using the mouse heart as a model, the researchers turned to deep sequencing to delve into the miRNA and gene expression patterns associated with this cardiac stress response. The search led to dozens of miRNAs that seem to be regulated by cardiac stress, apparently influencing the expression levels of some 66 cardiac messenger RNAs. Among the mRNAs were transcripts for genes coding for transcription factors, kinases, and phosphatase enzymes, study authors note.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.