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This Week in PLOS: May 7, 2018

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Finland and the US introduce an online resource for tracking the prevalence of Mendelian disease-related variants in purebred and mixed dog breeds. The resource, known as MyBreedData, stemmed from a custom array-based analysis of 152 Mendelian disease-related variants in more than 83,000 mixed breed dogs and 18,000 of their purebred counterparts. That analysis provided insights into disease prevalence patterns in 330 dog breeds, highlighting the pups' propensities for relatively common and much rarer conditions. In addition to finding disease-related variants in breeds not known to harbor a given condition, for example, the team characterized some mutations that appeared to turn up regardless of the breed. More broadly, the authors note that mixed breed pooches were prone to carrying common variants implicated in recessive dog diseases, though purebred pups "were more likely to be genetically affected with one."

A team from Nigeria, India, and the US search for urine- and blood-based metabolite markers for Schistosoma haematobium infections for a paper appearing in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The researchers used ultra high-performance liquid chromatography, high-resolution mass spectrometry, and other approaches to profile blood and urine samples from dozens of Nigerian individuals with or without urogenital tract and/or advanced bladder schistosomiasis infections, uncovering shifts in glycerophospholipid and sphingolipid metabolic pathways that may ultimately help in finding individuals at risk of advanced bladder disease after S. haematobium infection. 

Finally, French researchers reporting in PLOS One describe microRNAs with possible ties to atrial fibrillation in individuals receiving surgery to repair heart valve problems. Using TaqMan low density arrays, the team tracked expression of 662 mature heart miRNAs in left atrium samples from eight valve repair patients, including four with atrial fibrillation. The search led to 299 miRNAs that were expressed in left atrium samples from each of the individuals. A subset of 42 miRNAs showed enhanced or diminished expression in the individuals with atrial fibrillation — a miRNA set predicted of regulating thousands of genes, including some of the same genes showing altered expression in atrial fibrillation.