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This Week in PLOS: Mar 27, 2017

A team from Human Longevity, the University of California, San Francisco, and the J. Craig Venter Institute presents findings from an analysis of viral sequences in blood samples from more than 8,200 individuals who'd had their genomes sequenced. When they focused on viral sequences in the non-human reads retained from these sequencing efforts, the researchers uncovered sequences corresponding to 94 DNA viruses, RNA viruses, or proviruses. "In addition to a wide representation of human herpesviruses and anelloviruses, the study identified [seven] different papillomavirus types, including the oncogenic type 16, HIV, [hepatitis B virus], [three] different polyomavirus types, and parvovirus B19," the authors wrote. "These viruses generally correspond to those known to be highly seroprevalent in the human population."

The microbial communities found in the gut of individuals who experience heart failure may differ from those in other individuals, according to a PLOS One paper by investigators from Japan. Using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing, the researchers characterized microbial community members in fecal samples from a dozen individuals who had experienced heart failure and as many age-matched control individuals. They also looked for potential gut microbial community differences in 12 individuals who had heart failure before their 60th birthday relative to 10 older heart failure patients. In addition to gut microbiome differences between individuals with or without heart failure, the team saw a shift in the levels of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria representatives in the individuals whose heart failure took place later in life.

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Spain describe a hybrid minigene-based method for interpreting some variants of unknown significance, particularly those with potential effects on pre-messenger RNA splicing. After establishing a splicing reporter minigene system using a pSAD vector system and site directed mutagenesis, the team introduced it to a breast cancer cell line to profile 52 variants in exons 17 or 18 of the BRCA2 gene. In the process, the authors identified 30 variants that seemed to introduce unusual splicing patterns, including 20 variants that were classified as pathogenic or likely pathogenic.