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This Week in PLOS: Oct 10, 2016

In PLOS One, Japanese researchers describe germline variants in new and known prostate cancer risk genes in the Japanese population. The team did exome sequencing on 140 individuals with prostate cancer from 66 families, uncovering an association between the prostate cancer and germline variants in genes already implicated in the disease, such as BRCA2 and HOXB13. The search also led to variants in the histone acetyltransferase enzyme complex gene TRRAP, which appeared to correspond to prostate cancer risk in seven of the prostate cancer-prone families. And germline alterations affecting BRCA2, HOXB13, and TRRAP turned up in an analysis of 59 more families that were inordinately affected by prostate cancer.

An international team led by investigators in the UK describes the full genome of a Zika virus isolated from a patient in Brazil who suffered from classical symptoms of the disease such as rash and edema, without neurological complications. As they report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the researchers did whole-genome sequencing on the Zika virus isolate, using it to perform a phylogenetic analysis of other published and available Zika virus genomes. Along with clues to the virus' relationships and coding sequences, the investigators identified a sub-genomic flavivirus RNA, or sfRNA, that's suspected of helping the Zika virus dodge immune activity.

Finally, researchers from Japan reporting in PLOS One present findings from an array-based methylation study of breast cancer samples in rats with or without radiation exposure before or after puberty. Focusing on 21 rats with spontaneous mammary carcinoma, mammary carcinoma linked to radiation exposure before puberty, or cancer associated with post-puberty radiation, the team identified breast-cancer-associated declines in DNA methylation across the rat genome, as well as enhanced methylation at specific genes. But while the analysis did uncover gene expression shifts that seemed to coincide with radiation-related DNA methylation shifts, the authors caution that "these represent only 2 percent of the differentially-expressed genes, suggesting methylation is not a major or primary mechanism underlying the phenotypes."