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This Week in PLOS: Aug 27, 2018

In PLOS Genetics this week, a team from the UK and Australia search for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) contributing to schizophrenia and/or affective disorders such as bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. Starting with SNPs identified in 11 prior genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia or affective disorders, together with post-mortem gene expression profiles from two large sets of data from neurologically normal adults, the researchers did a meta-analysis that highlighted more than 2,200 eQTLs influencing the expression of 40 nearby genes or non-coding RNAs. "The identification of these regulated genes provides new insights into disease biology," the authors write, "and will help prioritize associations for future mechanistic follow-up studies."


In PLOS Biology, researchers from France and the UK present a genomic analysis of Plasmodium vivax-like malaria parasites that infect African great apes. Using isolates from infected chimpanzees and one mosquito carrying P. vivax-like parasites, the team produced two reference genomes before re-sequencing nine P. vivax-like isolates. A phylogenetic analysis encompassing these sequences suggests P. vivax-like parasites are similar to, but genetically distinct from, the P. vivax parasites that infect humans outside of Africa. A comparative analysis also uncovered adaptations making P. vivax more adept at infecting humans.

A related study of P. vivax and P. vivax-like parasites from humans, chimpanzees, and lowland gorillas appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week. The Daily Scan's sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on that study here.


A Korean team takes a look at potential ties between breast cancer outcomes and enhanced expression of the matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) enzyme in PLOS One. The researchers first considered clinicopathological features in 173 breast cancer cases treated at a Korean hospital, identifying a relationship between high MMP-9 expression and survival. They went on to confirm this association using data for almost 2,000 more breast cancer cases, while using gene set enrichment analyses to find additional genes, including TNFRSF12A, that coincided with increased levels of MMP-9.