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This Week in PNAS: Apr 25, 2017

In the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the US and Germany explore potential ties between gut microbes and bee body weight in the honeybee, Apis mellifera. The team compared everything from body weight to metabolite and transcript expression in the guts of germ-free honeybees and honeybees with typical gut microbial communities. The results hint that microbes may influence honeybee mass by altering everything from bee hormone pathways to the broader environment within bee guts.

A University of Pennsylvania-led team takes a look at transcriptional shifts associated with circadian rhythms using a new computational method called "cyclic ordering by periodic structure," or CYCLOPS. For the study, the researchers applied the algorithm to data from mouse and human tissues, including normal liver and lung, as well as hepatocellular carcinoma samples. "Applying CYCLOPS to over 2,000 human samples, we observe clear, high-amplitude molecular rhythms in lung, liver, brain, and [hepatocellular carcinoma]," the authors note. "Despite disparities in patient age, gender, genetics, diet, and environment, CYCLOPS extracted significant periodic signatures."

Baylor College of Medicine and University of Chicago researchers delve into the genitourinary development changes found in some individuals with chromosome 22 deletions linked to DiGeorge syndrome. After narrowing in the CRKL gene based on shared or overlapping alterations identified in DiGeorge patients with genitourinary development features, the team gauged changes in phenotype and gene expression in mice missing CRKL, identifying developmental shifts and dozens of differentially-expressed genes in the mouse mutants.