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This Week in PLOS: May 16, 2016

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from Sweden and the US describe a search for genetic factors involved in the formation of glioma brain tumors in dogs. The team did a genome-wide association study that involved 39 dogs with glioma and 141 unaffected control dogs from more than two-dozen breeds. The search led to a suspicious region on chromosome 26. By re-sequencing and genotyping the region in more dogs with or without glioma, the investigators identified three genes that seemed to have strong ties to glioma: CAMKK2, P2RX7, and DENR. "Given the similarities between human and canine gliomas at the histological and genetic level," they write, "we hypothesized that this approach could identify genes or pathways that may also be relevant for human glioma."

Members of the same team report on findings from a genome-wide association study of canine mammary tumors — a potential model human breast cancer — in English springer spaniels for another PLOS Genetics paper. Based on findings from a canine mammary tumor GWAS that included 188 English spring spaniels with the disease and 144 without, the researchers subsequently re-sequenced a handful of suspicious sites in seven English springer spaniels. At the locus with strongest ties to the disease, they found a canine mammary tumor-linked haplotype that involved the CDK5RAP2 gene.

A population genetic study in PLOS One by researchers in France, South Africa, and Argentina suggests Angora goat populations in each of the three countries remain quite genetically distinct. Using genotyping data for 30 Angora goats from Argentina, 26 from France, and 48 from South Africa, the team found that the South African goats were particularly separated from the other goat populations, while the Argentinian and French goats populations showed some signs of past admixture. "It is important to note that the high diversity between populations could be used to exchange genetic material between populations," the study's authors say. "In this way outcrossing can contribute to improving certain unfavorable characteristics of specific populations … while maintaining superior mohair qualities."

The Scan

Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension in Pregnant Women

Researchers in Nature Medicine provide new mechanistic insights into the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which may help develop therapeutics.

New Oral Nanomedicine Strategy Targets Gut-Brain Axis to Treat IBD

A new paper in Science Advances describes a platform to design polyphenol-armored oral medicines that are effective at treating inflammatory bowel disease.

Phylogenetic Data Enables New Floristic Map

Researchers in Nature Communications use angiosperm phylogenetic data to refine the floristic regions of the world.

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.