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PLOS Papers on Dengue in Cameroon, Giant Virus Phylogeny, Metabolic Syndrome Markers

At least three dengue virus (DENV) serotypes may be circulating in and around Douala, a city in southwestern Cameroon, according to a study in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. A team from Cameroon and the UK used RT-PCR-based screening to search for parts of the DENV genome in samples collected from 320 patients treated for acute fever and other symptoms in Douala from July 2020 and December of that year. With this approach, the researchers detected infections or co-infections with viruses from the DENV-1, DENV-2, and DENV-3 serotypes in 41 of the cases — serotypes that they subsequently subjected to phylogenetic analyses. "The simultaneous occurrence of three serotypes in Douala reveals dengue as a serious public health threat for Cameroon," the authors write, "and highlights the need for further epidemiological studies in the major cities of this region."

A team from Virginia Tech and the National Institutes of Health shares a phylogenomic analysis of "giant" DNA viruses from the Nucleocytoviricota phylum for a paper in PLOS Biology. Using thousands of available genomes and metagenome-assembled genome, the researchers did phylogenetic analyses that flagged 32 main Nucleocytoviricota viral families from half a dozen orders. "We anticipate that the phylogenetic and taxonomic framework we develop here will be a useful community resource for several future lines of inquiry into the biology of Nucleocytoviricota," they write, noting that "analysis of the environmental distribution of different taxonomic ranks of Nucleocytoviricota across Earth's biomes will be an important direction for future work that reveals prominent biogeographic patterns and helps to clarify the ecological impact of these viruses."

For a PLOS One paper, University of Arizona researchers search for potential metabolic syndrome markers in blood samples from Arizona Insulin Resistance registry participants of Latino descent. The team used targeted bisulfite sequencing to profile cytosine methylation across promoter regions for a handful of candidate genes in 74 individuals with metabolic syndrome and 110 unaffected controls from the same populations, uncovering sites with lower-than-usual methylation at sites in the COX6C and RPL9 gene promoters. These and other findings "highlight potential blood DNA methylation biomarkers for the [metabolic syndrome] phenotype," the authors write, adding that "future validation studies are warranted to strengthen our findings."