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This Week in PLoS: Apr 13, 2009

In PLoS Biology, lead author Nikolay Ninov from the Instituto de Biología Molecular de Barcelona reports on a study of cell cycle and growth in Drosophila abdominal cells. These histoblast cells provided a physiological setting that allowed the scientists to elucidate "several critical developmental signaling pathways (including signaling via ecdysone, the EGF receptor, and PI 3-kinase) that regulate and coordinate cell growth and division cycles during these different types of cell-cycle phenomena," the authors write.

A paper from senior author Akhilesh Pandey in PLoS Medicine describes the need for a central repository for cancer biomarkers, with a proof of principle done for pancreatic cancer. Pandey's team "carried out a comprehensive literature survey to systematically catalog the overexpressed genes/proteins," the authors write. "Our objective was to develop a compendium of potential biomarkers that could be systematically validated by the pancreatic cancer community and serve as a prototype for similar efforts in other cancers." The authors note that the compendium they built is already being used by a group working to develop antibodies against 60 promising targets.

Lead author Christiane Stahl-Hennig has a paper in PLoS Pathogens on the use of synthetic double-stranded RNAs to induce cellular immune response to infections such as HIV, HPV, or TB in primates. Results indicated that "formulations involving synthetic dsRNA are promising candidates for development of novel vaccines," the authors write.

In PLoS One, a paper from senior author Jonas Blomberg at Uppsala University discusses new approaches to detecting orthoretroviral long terminal repeats. The researchers used hidden Markov models that "provided a novel broad range, repeat-independent, ab initio LTR detection, with prospects for greater generalisation, and insight into LTR structure," they report.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.