Image credit: van Gestel et al.
Here are our highlights from the PLOS Computational Biology February issue:
Spatially Distributed Multicellular Consortia Enhance Implementation of Complex Biological Logic Circuits
Synthetic biological circuits have been built for different purposes; nevertheless, the way these devices have been designed so far present several limitations – complex genetic engineering is required to implement complex circuits, and once the parts are built, they are not reusable. Francesc Posas and colleagues propose to distribute the computation among several cellular consortia that are physically separated, thus ensuring implementation of circuits independently of their complexity.
Erosion of Conserved Binding Sites in Personal Genomes Points to Medical Histories
Although many human diseases have a genetic component that involves many loci, the majority of studies are statistically underpowered to isolate the many contributing variants, raising the question as to whether alternative approaches might help identify disease mutations. To address this question, Gill Bejerano and colleagues collect ancestral transcription factor binding sites disrupted by an individual’s variants, and look for their most significant congregation next to a group of functionally related genes.
On the Origins and Control of Community Types in the Human Microbiome
We coexist with a vast number of microbes that live in and on our bodies, and that play important roles in physiology and disease. One phenomenon that has been observed in the human microbiome is the astounding success of fecal microbial transplantation in treating certain diseases associated with disordered microbiomes. Yang-Yu Liu and colleagues show that the success of fecal microbial transplantation can be explained via a dynamic systems approach, and that microbiome-based stratification can be as simple as the existence of strongly interacting species.