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This Week in PLOS: Feb 26, 2018

A team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison reports on results from a genome-wide association study on toxin tolerance in the yeast model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae in PLOS Genetics this week. Using hundreds of thousands of high-quality SNPs gleaned from available whole-genome sequence data for 165 S. cerevisiae environmental, baking, industrial, clinical, and/or laboratory strains, the researchers searched for variants associated with tolerance to hydrolysate toxins from plant material that inhibits the growth and productivity of many yeast strains. Their search led to candidate variants and genes that were subsequently assessed using yeast gene knockouts, allele-swap experiments, and other approaches, which uncovered strain-specific differences in the genetic architecture of hydrolysate toxin tolerance.

In PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers from Germany, Uganda, and the UK explore transcriptomic similarities and differences between sleeping sickness-causing trypanosome parasites in infected humans, cell cultures, or mouse models of the disease. The team did RNA sequencing on Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense isolates from patient blood and cerebrospinal samples, rodent blood samples, and trypanosome cultures, comparing expression profiles between conditions. "Gene expression profiles of trypanosomes from human blood and cerebrospinal fluid were quite similar and there was no evidence for differences that might affect drug susceptibility," the authors report, noting that "RNAs in laboratory-adapted parasites grown in in vitro culture also quite closely resembled those in parasites from humans."

Finally, investigators from the UK and the US describe a form of muscular dystrophy detected in miniature poodles for a paper appearing in PLOS One. The team started with a family of male miniature poodle siblings, including one unaffected male pooch, one unaffected female littermate, a clinically normal dam, and three offspring with muscle atrophy, a stiff gait, and other muscular dystrophy symptoms. Two of the three affected dogs had additional symptoms such as poor development and learning impairment. Through whole-genome sequencing on one of the affected miniature poodles, the researchers narrowed in on an X chromosome deletion spanning more than 5 million bases of sequence and the full DMD gene — an alteration that was subsequently detected in the other affected male dogs by quantitative PCR, but absent in dozens of control poodles from the broader population.