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This Week in PNAS: Aug 24, 2010

In the Early Edition of PNAS this week, investigators at the US Food and Drug Administration and their colleagues report that they've detected DNA from xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in 32 of 37 individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. In a healthy control population of 44 individuals, the team only found MLV-like virus gag gene sequences in three. "In contrast to the reported findings of near-genetic identity of all XMRVs, we identified a genetically diverse group of MLV-related viruses," the authors write, adding that more work is required to determine whether "these viruses play a causative role in the development of CFS."

Investigators at MIT and Harvard this week show that "conserved microRNA targeting in Drosophila is as widespread in coding regions as in 3' UTRs." They've developed an algorithm, MinoTar, "to identify conserved regulatory motifs within protein-coding regions." With MinoTar, Michael Schnall-Levin et al. show that "in Drosophila, preferentially conserved miRNA targeting in ORFs is as widespread as it is in 3' UTRs and that, while far less abundant, conserved targets in Drosophila 5' UTRs number in the hundreds." The authors suggest that their results show "that the scale of biologically important miRNA targeting in ORFs is extensive," and that they may extend to mammals.

A collaborative research team led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Jacques Ravel describes the vaginal microbiome of reproductive-age women. In investigating the bacterial communities of 396 healthy women representing four ethnic groups, the team found "inherent differences within and between women in different ethnic groups," and suggest that clinicians adopt a "more refined definition of the kinds of bacterial communities normally found in healthy women and the need to appreciate differences between individuals so they can be taken into account in risk assessment and disease diagnosis."

Investigators in China, along with their international colleagues, this week show that X-linked Toll-like receptor 7 is associated — in a sex-specific manner — with male systemic lupus erythematosus. The authors identified an association of a TLR7 SNP, rs3853839, with SLE in 9,274 Eastern Asians, "with a stronger effect in male than female subjects," they write.

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.