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This Week in PNAS: Nov 11, 2014

In the early, online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Washington University, Texas A&M University, the University of Missouri, and elsewhere describe signatures associated with feline features and cat domestication that they detected through genome sequencing and comparative genomics. In addition to producing a high-quality cat reference genome using DNA from an Abyssinian kitty, the team re-sequenced six more domestic breeds and two wild cat groups for the analysis, which uncovered domestication-related signs of selection in reward-seeking, fear, and other genes. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, used 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing and other methods to track changes in the endangered yellow-legged frog's skin microbiome following infection with the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a so-called chytrid fungus. The team's experiments in four wild populations and in the frogs observed in the lab support the notion that Bd infection load is linked to reproducible changes in microbial membership, spatial features, and temporal dynamics in the frog skin microbiome. "The results indicate that the chytrid pathogen drives changes in the amphibian skin microbiome during disease episodes in wild frogs," the researchers say.

Finally, a team from the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found evidence for transcriptional artifacts associated with blood collection and storage methods. Using RNA sequencing on blood samples collected from a handful of healthy male and female donors, the researchers looked at the transcriptional consequences of storing blood at room temperature for up to two days or of freezing and thawing the samples. Their results hint that incubation outside the body can alter the gene expression patterns detected in hematopoietic cells, leading to a jump in representation by pseudogenes, antisense RNA, and genes from specific pathways.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.