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Researchers Retrace Key Mutations in Reassorted H1N1 Swine Flu Virus With Avian-Like Features

In a PNAS paper, a Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences-led team identifies genetic and genomic features in reassorted Eurasian avian-like H1N1 (EA H1N1) swine influenza viruses that may inform future monitoring strategies for the virus, which has been previously reported in pigs and humans in Europe and China. In particular, the researchers characterized an EA H1N1 strain found in pigs in China that appears pathogenic in mice and transmits between ferrets, using genome sequencing and reassorted mutant testing in animal models to focus in on four main mutations in the acidic polymerase (PA) enzyme-coding gene with apparent effects on viral transcription in their follow-up experiments. "[W]e found that the EA H1N1 virus circulating in swine exhibits increased pathogenicity and transmissibility in mammals, and we further revealed that its accumulated mutations in PA enhance mRNA transcription through different mechanisms and contribute to the harmful properties of the EA H1N1 virus," the authors write. "Our study provides important insights for monitoring field strains with pandemic potential.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.