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This Week in PLOS: Oct 26, 2015

Researchers from the Netherlands report in PLOS Computational Biology this week on their Bayesian-based approach that uncovered novel RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) regulators. The RLR pathway, they note, helps identify cytosolic viral DNA, which then sets off type I interferon production and the innate immune response. The Dutch team investigated gene expression, protein interactions, transcription regulation, and genome sequence data to find 10 distinctive properties of genes that are part of the RLR pathway. After feeding these properties into a statistical framework, they predicted an additional 187 components of the RLR pathway. Follow-up analyses found that about half of these candidate genes influence antiviral signaling.

In PLOS Genetics, another Dutch team describes their approach for identifying adaptive genes by combining phenotypic and environmental data. The team's Environmental Trait Mapping approach first models the observed phenotype as a function of the environmental data and then uses that predicted trait in multivariate and univariate genome-wide association analysis. By applying this to Arabidopsis thaliana flowering time data, the team says that their approach uncovers adaptive genes more efficiently than others.

And in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro researchers report on how they used a combination of qPCR and imaging to monitor the colonization of the Rhodnius prolixus digestive tract by Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, at different time points post-infection. Using those two approaches, they researchers found that as the parasites move into the digestive tract, most are lysed in the anterior midgut during the first 24 hours. But, those that survive then move through the posterior midgut to establish the infection. Three to four days after infection, the parasites begin to colonize the hindgut, peaking at seven days after infection. The parasite population in the hindgut remains largely stable over then next two weeks, the researchers found, while the populations in the anterior and posterior midguts increased slightly.