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PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS One, researchers in Thailand and Switzerland compare genome features in methicillin-resistant forms of the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP), which is more often found in dogs but can sometimes infect humans. Using short- and long-read sequencing technologies, the team performed whole-genome sequencing on three MRSP isolates from dogs and three isolates from humans, focusing on sequence types that are relatively common in Thailand. Along with comparisons of the core genes, accessory genes, pathogenicity island patterns, and prophage profiles for sequence type ST45, ST112, and ST181 isolates found in dogs or humans, the authors used targeted PCR testing on dozens more MRSP isolates to find particularly pronounced diversity in isolates from the ST45 sequence type. "The genomic diversity of ST45 isolates suggested a high level of adaptation that may lead to different host colonization of successful clones," they write. "This finding provided data on the genomic differences of MRSP associated with colonization and adaption to different hosts."

A team from the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Disease Center and other institutes in Japan points to the possibility of using archived bone marrow samples to detect, diagnose, and potentially guide treatment for myeloid neoplasms. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers attempted to find DNA mutations and RNA fusions in five fresh or stored bone marrow smear slide samples using custom myeloid panel sequencing, comparing the results to sequences for matched bone marrow cell samples. The smear approach successfully picked up known mutations or fusions in these individuals, who had known or suspected myelodysplastic syndrome diagnoses, aplastic anemia, or therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia, and in samples going back up to four years from 18 additional patients. "Despite the generally inferior quality of their DNA and RNA," they report, "smear samples are useful for clinical molecular diagnosis as long as adequate noise-reduction methods are applied."

Investigators at the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Beijing Institute of Genomics describe gene variants corresponding to hypertension in individuals from the Han Chinese population for another paper in PLOS One. "The pathogenesis of hypertension involves alteration[s] in vascular resistance caused by [the] sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and renin angiotensin system (RAS)," they explain, noting that contributors to hypertension risk appear to vary somewhat between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds or geographic locations. With targeted sequencing on 54 SNS- or RAS-related genes in 151 Han Chinese individuals with hypertension and 65 without, for example, the team saw half a dozen hypertension-associated variants in genes implicated in dopaminergic synapse functions, vitamin A metabolism, and other processes, offering potential clues to the condition's pathogenicity in the Han Chinese population.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.