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PLOS Papers on Cancer Testis Antigen Expression in HCC, Cystic Fibrosis Pathogen, More

In PLOS Genetics, an international team led by investigators at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai-led team tracks transcriptomic features in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), highlighting an apparent driver role for enhanced expression of MAGEA3, a gene coding for the cancer testis antigen MAGE-A. The researchers saw significant cancer testis antigen expression variability within individual HCC tumors when they did RNA sequencing on samples collected across multiple regions in 44 HCC tumors from a dozen individuals. From these results and follow up analyses on larger patient cohorts and mouse models of disease, the authors found that higher-than-usual expression of MAGEA3 and other cancer testis antigens coincided with cancer progression and relatively poor survival outcomes. "This study adds data to a growing field of evidence in support of MAGEA3 as a driver of tumor progression and a potential novel therapeutic target in human cancer," they conclude. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

For a paper in PLOS Pathogens, researchers from Korea and the UK present findings from a genome-wide association study comparing Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations that persist in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with P. aeruginosa isolates from non-CF settings. Using genome sequence data for nearly 2,200 P. aeruginosa isolates from individuals with or without CF from the Pseudomonas Genome Database, the team characterized genetic variation in the context of CF, introducing a subset of the CF-related alterations into a non-CF strain. "Our bioinformatics analyses, linked with experimental validation via genetic manipulation and phenotypic investigation of mutants, provides novel insights into the genomic plasticity of PA during chronic CF infection," the authors write, noting that the findings "expand our current understanding of how gene-level changes correlate with mechanisms of PA adaptation to the CF lung environment."

Investigators in Japan search for prognostic expression features related to tumor morphology and microenvironment features in primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) in a paper appearing in PLOS One. Based on RNA-seq of 31 PCNSL samples, along with corresponding clinical data, the team flagged gene signatures associated with cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, extracellular matrix, and matrix metalloprotease enzyme processes. Although the authors caution that the current findings "are limited due to the small sample size and the status of interest," they suggest that the gene signatures identified "would help understand cancer morphology and microenvironment with patient survival and develop de novo molecular target therapy in PCNSL."

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.