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This Week in PNAS: Jun 13, 2017

A team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that that the mosquito gut microbiome interacts with a pathogenic fungus to influence mortality. The team found mosquitoes with gut microbiota die more quickly when infected with the pathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. Fungal infection, they report, leads to dysbiosis of the mosquito gut microbiome, particularly an increase in bacterial load and a decrease in bacterial diversity. This then leads to the overgrowth of Serratia marcescens in the midgut, and it then spreads to the hemocoel where it promotes mosquito death. The researchers add that their study may elucidate new strategies for mosquito control.

Researchers from Boston and Spain studied neuroplasticity in the human brain by examining functional connectivity in blind and sighted children. As they report in the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that multisensory integration areas among blind children had increased connectivity, which also correlated with increased transcription of cAMP Response Element Binding protein gene family members. They add that their study could inform effort to improve sensory deprivation treatments.

Australian National University researchers report on a role for ETAA1 in the proliferative expansion of effector T cells. They identified randomly induced mutations in the mouse germ line through exome sequencing and phenotypic screening, and, in this way, found that homozygous mutations in ETAA1 correlated with the lack of effector T cells after immunization. As ETAA1 is thought to prevent DNA damage during proliferation, the researchers say that effector T cells lacking ETAA1 likely have increased DNA damage that leads to cell death. This suggests that ETAA1 could be a novel target for transplant or autoimmune drugs, the researchers add.