Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in PNAS: Oct 26, 2009

In work appearing in this week's edition of PNAS, Tel Aviv University's Ronen Borenstein and Niza Frenkel describe single-step production of viral BACs of the 160-kb human herpes virus 6A. Their method of cloning, they say, is "independent of intracellular recombinations and DNA packaging constraints" and is "especially attractive for viruses that replicate inefficiently and for viruses propagated in suspension cells."

Edward Holmes of Penn State University has written an article for the Evolution in Health and Medicine Sackler Colloquium on the comparative genomics of viral emergence and in particular focuses on how this field can help scientists better understand the ability of RNA viruses to mutate and jump hosts. Swine flu is a good example, where, he says, "research reveals a marked lack of surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs ... such that the exact genesis of [the virus] (where, when, how) is uncertain."

A group of scientists led by senior author Stephen Ekker at the Mayo Clinic has performed a study looking at how genetics affects behavioral response to nicotine. Using an assay developed in zebrafish and a forward genetic screen, they found two mutations, bdav/cct8 and hbog/gabbr1.2, that have altered nicotine response. "Each have a single human ortholog, identifying two points for potential scientific, diagnostic, and drug development for nicotine biology and cessation therapeutics," they write.

Research from the International MHC and Autoimmunity Genetics Network have mapped variants within the MHC region for several immune-related diseases. Genotyping 1,472 SNPs across the MHC region in about 10,600 samples from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, selective IgA deficiency, and multiple sclerosis, they found "primary association signals for each disease and ... independent secondary signals," they write in the abstract. "The data demonstrate that MHC associations with autoimmune diseases result from complex, multilocus effects that span the entire region."

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.