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Genome Biology Reports on Aedes albopictus Genome, Ebola Virus Outcomes, Glioblastoma

Researchers at the University of Pavia, Yale University, and elsewhere present an improved reference genome for the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus, an invasive species known for transmitting arboviruses such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya virus. Using PacBio long-read sequencing, combined with 10x Genomics and Hi-C proximity ligation scaffolding, bioinformatics, and other methods, the team put together a 2.5 billion-base Ae. albopictus assembly containing almost 26,900 predicted protein-coding genes, along with an accompanying physical map of the genome. By bringing in additional RNA sequence and small RNA data, the authors used the enhanced reference genome to explore everything from microRNA and piRNA clusters in the mosquito genome to immunity gene repertoires and developmental transcriptomes.

A University of Liverpool-led team takes a look at potential ties between Ebola virus (EBOV) sequence variation, viral load during an acute infection phase, and infection outcomes in individuals treated for Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea from 2013 to 2016. With the help of blood transcriptomes, EBOV genome sequence data and genotypes, and clinical outcome clues, the researchers compared viral populations and viral load in patients who survived or succumbed to EVD. Among other findings, the authors note that "in patients who survived EVD, in some cases, the genetic variability of the virus resulted in deleterious mutations that affected viral protein structure, leading to reduced viral load."

Investigators in Korea, the US, Italy, and China share results from a transcriptional analysis focused on tumor-associated macrophage immune cells with ties to malignancy in a glioblastoma (GBM) subtype marked by mesenchymal cell features. Based on transcriptome sequence data for tumor-associated macrophage cell populations isolated from primary GBM tumors with or without mesenchymal features, the team uncovered a role for a "macrophage receptor with collagenous structure" (MARCO) gene in the mesenchymal transition. That prompted a series of follow-up experiments on tumor-associated macrophages in the context of tumor invasiveness, proliferation, treatment resistance, and clinical outcomes in GBM. "Collectively," the authors say, "our study characterizes the global transcriptional profile of [tumor-associated macrophages] driving mesenchymal GBM pathogenesis, providing potential therapeutic targets for improving the effectiveness of GBM immunotherapy." 

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.