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This Week in PNAS: May 22, 2013

In a study slated to appear in the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, an Ohio State University-led team assessed the expression of hundreds of microRNAs in ovarian cancer tumors, looking for those with expression profiles that coincided with chemotherapy resistance. Through an array-based analysis of almost 700 microRNAs in tumor samples from 86 women with ovarian cancer, researchers tracked down a 23-miRNA signature for chemoresistance. And their quantitative real-time PCR follow-up experiments in another 112 ovarian tumors suggested that it may be possible to predict such resistance with just three of the miRNAs: miR-642, miR-217, and miR-484.

The barley powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei) pathogen genome is comprised of chunks of sequence that are particularly rich or replete in polymorphisms, according to a study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. The team sequenced the genomes of two Bgh isolates from Europe, comparing each to the barley powdery mildew reference genome. The newly sequenced isolates each contained distinct combinations of sequence blocks with high or low SNP concentrations — isolate-specific mosaic genomes that point to "exceptionally large standing genetic variation in the Bgh population," study authors say. Meanwhile, their transcriptome sequencing experiments offered a look at genes used by Bgh during attempted infiltration of barley or immunocompromised Arabidopsis.

Researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center described a Clinical Genomics Database containing multi-faceted information on more than 2,600 genes that have been linked to a clinical condition or pharmacogenetic interaction in PNAS this week. "To aid independent analysis and optimize new data incorporation, the CGD also includes all genetic conditions for which genetic knowledge may affect the selection of supportive care, informed medical decision-making, prognostic considerations, reproductive decisions, and allow avoidance of unnecessary testing, but for which specific interventions are not otherwise currently available," the group notes.