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This Week in Nucleic Acids Research: Aug 30, 2017

In Nucleic Acids Research this week, researchers from Germany and Lithuania describe microRNAs present in peripheral blood samples from more than 150 healthy participants. Using deep sequencing, fluorescence activated cell sorting, and magnetic activated cell sorting, the team tracked miRNA expression in seven peripheral blood cell types — from the myeloid and lymphoid cell lineages — in nearly 300 samples obtained from 162 healthy individuals. The search led to almost 400 known miRNAs, along with hundreds of isomiRs and candidate miRNAs, providing a look at small RNAs that appeared to be expressed across blood cells and within specific blood cell types.

A University of Oxford-led team looks at the transcriptional features that mark mammalian circadian pacemaker components in the brain's suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). By tapping into available array-based expression data or RNA sequences for dozens of mouse SCN or whole brain samples, the researchers tracked down tens of thousands of genes and started teasing out potential signatures for the SCN based on differential expression patterns in that region compared with the rest of the brain. "SCN-enriched transcripts identified in this study provide novel insights into SCN function, including identifying genes which may play key roles in SCN physiology or provide SCN-specific drivers," they write.

Investigators at George Washington University and the US Food and Drug Administration present an approach for teasing out and assembling sequences from viral sub-populations in high-throughput sequence datasets. The team applied the new algorithm, dubbed Hexahedron, to simulated datasets to hammer out its sensitivity and specificity. From there, the authors used Hexahedron to tease out mumps virus and poliovirus sub-populations from live attenuated vaccine and environmental sewage samples, respectively. "[W]e anticipate that this approach could be extremely useful for virological surveillance that is vitally important for timely identification of emerging pathogens and development of rational countermeasures," the authors write.