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New Articles in PLOS Biology

PUBLISHED: December 01, 2021 to December 31, 2021

Community Page

A crowdsourcing open platform for literature curation in UniProt

The UniProt Knowledgebase is a public database for protein sequence and function, covering the tree of life. This Community Page article present a community submission system to harness timely scientific knowledge via crowdsourcing of the literature, creating a research ecosystem where researchers play an active role in scaling up UniProt curation, while receiving proper attribution for their biocuration work.


Noise increases the correspondence between artificial and human vision

This Primer explores the implications of a recent PLOS Biology study, arguing that noise-robustness, a property of human vision that standard computer vision models fail to mimic, provides an opportunity to probe the neural mechanisms underlying visual object recognition and refine computational models of the ventral visual stream.

Unsolved Mystery

Riddled with holes: Understanding air space formation in plant leaves

Leaves are interwoven with large air spaces to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis; however, how these air spaces form and how different patterns have evolved is almost unknown. This Unsolved Mystery article discusses the existing evidence and poses new avenues of research to answer this question.

Research Articles

Consolidation and maintenance of long-term memory involve dual functions of the developmental regulator Apterous in clock neurons and mushroom bodies in the Drosophila brain

A neurogenetic study using Drosophila reveals that the centrally expressed LIM-homeodomain transcription factor Apterous plays a crucial neuron-type-dependent role in two different memory processes - consolidation and maintenance of long-term memory.

Research Articles

Heterophilic and homophilic cadherin interactions in intestinal intermicrovillar links are species dependent

Structures of the extracellular tips of PCDH24 and CDHR5, the proteins that form functionally important links between gut microvilli, reveal the minimum units used by these proteins to mediate adhesion, and provide insights into species-dependent interactions and functionality in the cadherin superfamily.

Research Articles

Locus coeruleus neurons encode the subjective difficulty of triggering and executing actions

Compared to reward, the neural basis of effort remains poorly understood. This study uses neurophysiological recordings in behaving macaques to show that locus coeruleus noradrenergic neurons provide information about both cognitive and physical effort, a few hundred milliseconds after it had been exerted.

Research Articles

The 3-phosphoinositide'dependent protein kinase 1 is an essential upstream activator of protein kinase A in malaria parasites

cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signalling is essential for the proliferation of Plasmodium falciparum malaria blood stage parasites. A combination of conditional expression and whole-genome sequencing reveals that 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) acts as a crucial upstream regulator in this pathway and is a potential new drug target.

Research Articles

A structurally conserved site in AUP1 binds the E2 enzyme UBE2G2 and is essential for ER-associated degradation

This study shows that a 27-amino acid domain that binds the ubiquitin conjugating enzyme UBE2G2, and which is found in two different proteins (AUP1 and gp78), is critical for endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD).

Research Articles

Noise-trained deep neural networks effectively predict human vision and its neural responses to challenging images

Unlike human observers, deep neural networks fail to recognize objects in severe visual noise. This study develops noise-trained networks and shows that these networks better predict human performance and neural responses in the visual cortex to challenging noisy object images.

Research Articles

Poststroke dendritic arbor regrowth requires the actin nucleator Cobl

Ischemic stroke is a major cause of death and long-term disability. This study reveals that, in mice, stroke-induced damage to dendritic arborization in the area around an infarct is rapidly repaired via dendritic regrowth; this plasticity requires the actin nucleator Cobl.

Research Articles

Mutations in LRRK2 linked to Parkinson disease sequester Rab8a to damaged lysosomes and regulate transferrin-mediated iron uptake in microglia

Brain iron deposition is a feature of Parkinson's disease pathology, but how this contributes to neurodegeneration is unclear. This study shows that Parkinson's disease-linked mutations in LRRK2 cause aberrant brain iron accumulation in vivo and iron dyshomeostasis in vitro, supporting a role of LRRK2 in modulating iron uptake and storage in response to proinflammatory stimuli in microglia.

Research Articles

Vaccination with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern protects mice from challenge with wild-type virus

This study explores the immune response induced by wild type and variant SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, and the protection that these immune responses provide against challenge with wild type virus in the mouse model.

Research Articles

Genome-wide gene expression noise in Escherichia coli is condition-dependent and determined by propagation of noise through the regulatory network

Genome-wide flow cytometry measurements reveal that gene expression noise in bacteria is highly condition-dependent; while absolute noise levels of all genes decrease with growth-rate, theoretical modeling shows that the relative noise levels of different genes are determined by the propagation of noise through the gene regulatory network (GRN). Thus GRN structure controls not only mean expression but also noise levels.

Research Articles

Noncanonical projections to the hippocampal CA3 regulate spatial learning and memory by modulating the feedforward hippocampal trisynaptic pathway

This study reveals extensive non-canonical synaptic inputs to dorsal hippocampal CA3 from ventral CA1, perirhinal cortex and subicular complex, and shows that genetic inactivation of projection from ventral CA1 to dorsal CA3 impairs object-related spatial learning and memory.

Research Articles

Elevated temperature inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in respiratory epithelium independently of IFN-mediated innate immune defenses

A clinical feature of COVID-19 is the onset of fever, raising the body temperature to 38-41 C. This study demonstrates that temperature elevation to 40 C limits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory airway cultures, independently of the induction of interferon-mediated antiviral immune defences.

Research Articles

Multiple gamma rhythms carry distinct spatial frequency information in primary visual cortex

Gamma rhythms in many brain regions are thought to play a role in information processing. This study reports the surprising coexistence of three narrow-band gamma rhythms in visual cortex with distinct coding properties for visual features and distinct neural origins.

Research Articles

The human gut symbiont Ruminococcus gnavus shows specificity to blood group A antigen during mucin glycan foraging: Implication for niche colonisation in the gastrointestinal tract

Ruminococcus gnavus is a human gut symbiont that displays strain-specific repertoires of glycoside hydrolases (GH). This study finds that the R. gnavus enzyme GH98 is specific for blood group A (BgA) tetrasaccharide type II, and that it can release BgA trisaccharide from mucins, showing that the GH repertoire of R. gnavus strains enables them to colonise different nutritional niches in the human gut.

Discovery Report

Ultradian rhythms of AKT phosphorylation and gene expression emerge in the absence of the circadian clock components Per1 and Per2

This study reveals ultradian (16-hour) rhythms in the activation of the protein kinase AKT in the livers of mice, accompanied by corresponding downstream changes in gene expression. Intriguingly, these oscillations emerge in the absence of rhythmic environmental cues and in mice lacking the circadian clock proteins Per1 and Per2.

Short Reports

Cysteine and iron accelerate the formation of ribose-5-phosphate, providing insights into the evolutionary origins of the metabolic network structure

The evolutionary origins of metabolism are largely unknown. This study shows that the prebiotically available proteinogenic amino acid cysteine can promote the metabolism-like rate-limiting formation of ribose-5-phosphate, suggesting that early metabolic pathways could have emerged through the stepwise enzymatization of non-enzymatic reaction sequences.

Short Reports

CNNM proteins selectively bind to the TRPM7 channel to stimulate divalent cation entry into cells

Magnesium is essential for cellular life, but how is it homeostatically controlled? This study shows that proteins of the CNNM family bind to the TRPM7 channel to stimulate divalent cation entry into cells, independent of their function in regulating magnesium ion efflux.

Short Reports

Evolutionary pathways to SARS-CoV-2 resistance are opened and closed by epistasis acting on ACE2

This study suggests that ancient events in mammalian cardiovascular evolution determined the host range of SARS-CoV-2 millions of years before the current pandemic. These physiological constraints are so inflexible that escape from SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility would likely have required significant alterations to the human cardiovascular system.

Short Reports

A genome-wide CRISPR screen identifies interactors of the autophagy pathway as conserved coronavirus targets

This study identifies essential host dependency factors for human coronavirus replication, showing that these can be directly targeted by clinically approved inhibitors and that treatment leads to effective inhibition of coronavirus replication in primary human nasal epithelial cell cultures.

Methods and Resources

Barcoded Asaia bacteria enable mosquito in vivo screens and identify novel systemic insecticides and inhibitors of malaria transmission

This study presents a barcoding strategy that enables high-throughput phenotypic screens of blood-feeding insects against small molecules in microtiter plate-based arrays and applies this to the discovery of novel systemic insecticides and compounds that block malaria parasite development in the mosquito vector.

Methods and Resources

Meiotic Cas9 expression mediates gene conversion in the male and female mouse germline

This study shows that while Cas9 expression during meiosis I promotes genotype conversion - the mechanism underlying CRISPR 'gene drive' - in both male and female mice, timing and high levels of Cas9 protein are critical to achieve robust efficiency.

Formal Comments

Bacteria can be selected to help beneficial plasmids spread

A recent commentary raised concerns about aspects of the model and assumptions used in a previous study which demonstrated that selection can favor chromosomal alleles that confer higher plasmid donation rates. Here, the authors of that previous study respond to the concerns raised.

Formal Comments

Comment on "Indirect Fitness Benefits Enable the Spread of Host Genes Promoting Costly Transfer of Beneficial Plasmids"

Plasmid transfer contributes significantly to bacterial evolution, but the forces selecting such generosity are poorly understood; this Formal Comment revisits a study which examined these forces both analytically and experimentally, making a correction to the algebra and reaching strikingly different results.


Correction: FisB relies on homo-oligomerization and lipid binding to catalyze membrane fission in bacteria


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