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This Week in PLOS: Jan 19, 2015

In PLOS One, a Chinese team takes a look at the genetics of warfarin response in individuals from the Chinese population. Focusing on five variants that have been implicated in warfarin response in the past, the researchers genotyped 220 patients who received warfarin as part of their cardiac valve replacement procedure. Based on the individuals' plasma warfarin concentrations, maintenance dose data, and so on, for instance, they found that two variants in the VKORC1 and CYP2C9 genes accounted for nearly one third of the observed differences in warfarin maintenance dose differences. Meanwhile, another variant in VKORC1 seemed to explain more than a quarter of the variability in warfarin plasma concentrations in the Chinese populations.

A group from Australia characterized three viruses from the so-called Mapputta serogroup — which turns up in Australia and Papua New Guinea and can cause a condition that resembles acute epidemic polyarthritis — for another PLOS One study. The researchers sequenced and compared the genomes of the Mapputta virus, the Maprik virus, and the Buffalo Creek virus. Their phylogenetic analysis of the strains suggests that the newly sequenced viruses are genetically similar to one another and related to a bunyavirus group recently found in mosquitoes.

Researchers from the US and Kenya have developed a real-time PCR assay for detecting two sub-species of the malaria parasite Plasmodium ovale — work they describe in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The assay, which focused on a conserved region of the P. ovale genome, is designed to detect both P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri sub-species, the study's authors say. The method proved useful for detecting malaria in samples from nearly two dozen asymptomatic individuals from Western Kenya, they report, while multilocus genotyping made it possible to discern between the sub-species.

The Scan

Hormone-Based Gene Therapy to Sterilize Domestic Cat

A new paper in Nature Communication suggests that gene therapy could be a safer alternative to spaying domestic cats.

Active Lifestyle Linked to Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in People at High Genetic Risk

A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that an active lifestyle goes a long way in type 2 diabetes prevention.

Beneficial, Harmful Effects of Introgression Between Wild and Domesticated European Grapes

A paper in PNAS shows that European wild grapevines were an important resource for improving the flavor of cultivated wine grapes.

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.