Subject: PLOS Biology Volume 16(3) March 2018 Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf-8" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit


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PUBLISHED: March 01, 2018 to March 30, 2018


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Research Matters

Meta-research: Why research on research matters

In this Research Matters article, John Ioannidis explains the excitement of doing "research on research," and how the payoff can be high for science-at-large; meta-research offers an opportunity both to improve research practices and to defend good science.


Which experimental systems should we use for human microbiome science?

Animal models are essential to investigate the causality and mechanism underlying the effects of the microbiome on human health. This Essay maintains that the use of a wider range of models will accelerate fundamental understanding and biomedical application.

Memory instability as a gateway to generalization

Generalizing across events produces concepts, grammar, and enables knowledge transfer to novel situations. This Essay proposes that identifying elements common across events ' to create generalization ' may occur when memories are unstable, and can interact with one another.


Experiments in interdisciplinarity: Responsible research and innovation and the public good

RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) is emerging as a science policy measure directed at enabling better technological development for the public good. This Perspective by Ana Delgado and Heidrun Sm stresses that it needs to be practiced in an experimental and collaborative mode.

Assessing scientists for hiring, promotion, and tenure

Assessment of researchers is necessary for decisions of hiring, promotion and tenure. However, current approaches are probably in need of modification; this Perspective article discusses principles that could serve as a roadmap for change.

Research Articles

Spliced integrated retrotransposed element (SpIRE) formation in the human genome

Sequence alterations that allow LINE-1 retrotransposons to evade host factor-mediated transcriptional repression also alter LINE-1 splicing patterns; retrotransposition of the spliced RNAs can lead to the formation of Spliced Integrated Retrotransposed Elements (SpIREs).

The emergence of the visual word form: Longitudinal evolution of category-specific ventral visual areas during reading acquisition

Functional brain images, acquired every two months in children before, during and after their first year of school, reveal how reading acquisition reorganizes the visual areas responsive to letters, objects or faces.

Rapid environmental effects on gut nematode susceptibility in rewilded mice

Movement of laboratory mice to a natural, farm-like environment rapidly increases their susceptibility to intestinal worm infections.

Cell signaling heterogeneity is modulated by both cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic mechanisms: An integrated approach to understanding targeted therapy

Integration of a suite of mathematical models with in vitro experiments explains the effect of both the tumor microenvironment and signaling heterogeneity on targeted therapy outcomes and suggests possible combination strategies for better responses.

Early uneven ear input induces long-lasting differences in left'right motor function

A study in mice examining the behavioral preference for turning to the left or right reveals that uneven sensory input ' in this case from the ear ' can establish stable brain asymmetries in motor function.

Late Maastrichtian pterosaurs from North Africa and mass extinction of Pterosauria at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary

Pterosaurs were giant flying reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs. New fossils show that instead of slowly going extinct, they thrived until being wiped out by the same asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

Negative regulation of amino acid signaling by MAPK-regulated 4F2hc/Girdin complex

The endocytosis-related protein Girdin diverts the amino acid transporter subunit 4F2hc to the lysosome, negatively regulating amino acid signaling by reducing intracellular levels of glutamine and leucine.

Modifying and reacting to the environmental pH can drive bacterial interactions

A combination of experiment and mathematical modelling shows that by understanding how bacteria alter and respond to the environmental pH it is possible to predict interactions within and between species.

A population genetic interpretation of GWAS findings for human quantitative traits

This study interprets the results of human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in the light of an evolutionary model that assumes stabilizing selection on multiple traits jointly, revealing how GWAS results might relate to the evolutionary and genetic forces that give rise to phenotypic variation.

Inflammation arising from obesity reduces taste bud abundance and inhibits renewal

Our sense of taste regulates our intake of foods. This study reports that obesity-induced inflammation can drastically reduce the abundance of taste buds in mice, and may therefore possibly encourage overeating.

Effects of multiple sources of genetic drift on pathogen variation within hosts

Combining nested mathematical models of infectious disease dynamics with high-throughput sequence data reveals that genetic drift acting at multiple scales shapes the genetic variation of pathogens within their hosts.

The colonic epithelium plays an active role in promoting colitis by shaping the tissue cytokine profile

Computational modeling of protein signaling data from a mouse model of colitis identifies mTOR signaling as a regulator of epithelial differentiation and cytokine expression.

Dynamic frontotemporal systems process space and time in working memory

Direct brain recordings from humans reveal that rapid, dynamic interactions between the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex underlie working memory for everyday experiences.

Short Reports

Perceptually relevant speech tracking in auditory and motor cortex reflects distinct linguistic features

This study shows how dynamic brain mechanisms at the precise time-scales of phrases (0.6-1.3 Hz) and words (1.8-3 Hz) in auditory and motor cortices shape the comprehension of speech.

Recurrent excitation between motoneurones propagates across segments and is purely glutamatergic

The strength of recurrent excitation between motoneurones indicates that they are not purely output cells controlling muscle contraction, but in addition form a network capable of modulating motor output.

The speed of parietal theta frequency drives visuospatial working memory capacity

The application of transcranial alternating current stimulation to the right parietal cortex, mimicking slow theta oscillations during a visuospatial working memory task, enhances memory capacity; mimicking fast theta reduces capacity.

Rapid evolution of a voltage-gated sodium channel gene in a lineage of electric fish leads to a persistent sodium current

Duplication and neofunctionalization of a gene encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel may have facilitated the evolution of extremely high frequency spontaneous firing by electric organs in the Apteronotids, a lineage of weakly electric fish.

Autophagy is essential for maintaining the growth of a human (mini-)organ: Evidence from scalp hair follicle organ culture

Studies of organ-cultured human hair follicles reveals that they recruit autophagy as a key cellular recycling process to maintain long-term hair growth; this process can be targeted by hair growth-promoting agents.

Identifying off-target effects of etomoxir reveals that carnitine palmitoyltransferase I is essential for cancer cell proliferation independent of beta -oxidation

Identification of an off-target effect of the fatty acid oxidation inhibitor etomoxir on the mitochondrial electron transport chain reveals that some cancer cells rely on carnitine palmitoyltransferase for functions independent of fatty acid oxidation.

Methods and Resources

The Plasmodium falciparum transcriptome in severe malaria reveals altered expression of genes involved in important processes including surface antigen'encoding var genes

A comparison of Plasmodium falciparum parasites causing severe versus uncomplicated malaria reveals that the former have an altered transcriptome, including upregulation of a subset of PfEMP1 variant surface antigens which could be anti-disease vaccine candidates.

Evaluation of e-liquid toxicity using an open-source high-throughput screening assay

This study by M. Flori Sassano, Eric S. Davis, Gary L. Glish, Robert Tarran and colleagues develops an open-source, high-throughput screening method and pairs it to chemical composition to investigate the in vitro toxicity of commercially available e-liquids in a rapid and parallel fashion.

Formal Comments

Taxonomy based on science is necessary for global conservation

This Formal Comment maintains that the science of taxonomy requires freedom from artificial constraints intended to only serve one particular discipline; conservation efforts should accommodate changing scientific opinion rather than subvert longstanding and successful scientific research.

Science-based taxonomy still needs better governance: Response to Thomson et al.

Responding to a critique of their previous commentary on taxonomic governance, this Formal Comment suggests approaches that respect taxonomic science while giving legitimacy and stability to users of taxonomic research.


Correction: The BRCT Domain of PARP-1 Is Required for Immunoglobulin Gene Conversion

Correction: Impaired Mitochondrial Energy Production Causes Light-Induced Photoreceptor Degeneration Independent of Oxidative Stress

Correction: Extracellular Vesicle-Mediated Transfer of Genetic Information between the Hematopoietic System and the Brain in Response to Inflammation

Correction: Ionotropic Chemosensory Receptors Mediate the Taste and Smell of Polyamines

Correction: Early postnatal exposure to isoflurane causes cognitive deficits and disrupts development of newborn hippocampal neurons via activation of the mTOR pathway


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