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PLOS Papers on Muscle Regenerative Cells, Diabetic Retinopathy, Malaria Parasite Populations

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from the Pasteur Institute and the Babraham Institute take a look at gene expression and regulatory features in the muscle stem cells that are marshaled to deal with injuries or tissue maintenance affecting skeletal muscles in adults. Using RNA and bisulfite sequencing, the team compared transcriptome and epigenome profiles in mouse MuSCs derived from tibialis anterior limb muscles or from extraocular muscles, which typically have more pronounced regenerative capabilities. Among other results, the authors found that the MuSCs generated from extraocular muscle and limb sites "have distinct DNA methylation signatures associated with enhancers of location-specific genes, and that the [extraocular muscle MuSC] transcriptome is reprogrammed following transplantation into a limb muscle environment." More broadly, they say, the findings "underscore the molecular diversity of distinct MuSC populations and molecularly define their plasticity in response to microenvironmental cues."

For a paper in PLOS One, a Korean research team shares results from a blood metabolomics study of diabetic retinopathy complications stemming from long-term changes to the retinal blood supply in individuals with type 2 diabetes. The researchers reasoned that "metabolite signatures identified in this study will provide insight into the mechanisms underlying [diabetic retinopathy] development and progression in T2D patients in future studies." In blood samples from 51 individuals with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, 123 individuals with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and 143 non-diabetic retinopathy controls, they used targeted metabolomics to focus in on 16 metabolites shared by the proliferative and non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy cases. Still other metabolite sets appeared to distinguish each diabetic retinopathy subtype from the non-diabetic retinopathy control group.

Investigators at the University of São Paulo, the Broad Institute, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health consider population genomic patterns in Plasmodium vivax malaria parasites in Brazil for a PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases paper. The team did genome sequencing on samples from two dozen patient-derived P. vivax samples in Brazil's Acre State and 38 such P. vivaxsamples from an Amazonian malaria "hotspot" near the border of Brazil and Peru, uncovering extensive linkage disequilibrium, despite high levels of genetic diversity and gene flow in the parasite populations in the border region and beyond. "We characterize a genetically diverse population that displays significant linkage disequilibrium," the authors note, "consistent with the local circulation of highly inbred but genetically distant parasite lineages."