Jan Felix Drexler and his colleagues report that the 3'-X-tail element of the hepatitis C virus is highly conserved. By de novo sequencing, they characterized the tail and then they developed a prototype RT-PCR assay test to determine if this region could be used as a diagnostic target. The authors say the test was robust against genotype variation and precise in determining virus quantification. "The assay was efficiently implemented and projected to be highly cost efficient in an emerging country setting," they write.
In PLoS Computational Biology, Penn State and Venter Institute scientists discuss their approach to construct and curate a metabolic model for Mycoplasma genitalium, whose small genome size is thought to approach the minimal number of genes needed for life. Their model included 189 of the bacterium's 482 known genes and they used computational tools to fill in network gaps, getting the model to be 87 percent correct for essential genes.
The John Wayne Cancer Institute's Sharon Huang and her colleagues performed global quantitative proteomic analyses of archival metastatic and primary melanomas to determine protein expression level changes associated with melanoma progression and metastasis. Using a LC/MS-based label-free protein quantification method, the researchers identified over 1500 proteins, of which 120 had changes in their expression levels. They write that these proteins may be biomarkers for tumor progression.