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This Week in PLOS: Aug 1, 2016

In PLOS Genetics, Norwegian researchers explore the genetic heterogeneity of colorectal cancer metastases to the liver in relation to patient outcomes. Using array-based copy number profiles, the team characterized 134 samples from liver metastases in 45 individuals with colorectal cancer, uncovering heterogeneity in CNV patterns both within and between patients. It also saw ties between lower-than-usual tumor heterogeneity and enhanced survival times. Compared to three-year survival times of just 18 percent for the individuals with high tumor CNV heterogeneity, for example, the investigators found that some two-thirds of those in the low heterogeneity group survived at least three years.

An international team led by investigators in Australia and the UK takes a look at transcriptional patterns in two food-borne nematode worm species from the Anisakis genus for a PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases paper. After doing RNA sequencing on samples from A. simplex and A. pegreffii, the researchers searched the data for clues to potential allergens expressed by the parasites. By comparing the transcriptomes to one and another and to information in public databases, they identified three dozen potential allergens in A. simplex and 29 apparent allergens produced by A. pegreffii.

For another PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases study, researchers from Germany, the US, and other parts of the world consider the genetic diversity of rabies viruses found in arctic foxes in Greenland and other parts of the Arctic. The team analyzed sequences for rabies viruses found in brain tissue from 49 arctic fox brain samples from Greenland, alongside sequences for dozens more arctic rabies viruses collected in Canada, Alaska, and Russia over nearly three decades, from 1977 to 2004. In the process, it identified four main arctic rabies virus lineages and seven sub-clades with different geographical representation. "The results reveal the existence of a single arctic [rabies virus] lineage (arctic-3) in Greenland," the authors write, "which has evolved into multiple distinct variants."