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Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Advanced Online Publications Articles

  • Current Issue of Nature

    Nature - Issue - nature.com science feeds

  • A global vision

  • The International Council for Science needs to define its mission and show its members that it is worth their membership fees.

  • Save the museums

  • Italy’s curators must band together to preserve their valuable collections.

  • Data-access practices strengthened

  • In our continued drive for reproducibility, Nature and the Nature research journals are strengthening our editorial links with the journal Scientific Data and enhancing our data-availability practices. We believe that this initiative will improve support for authors looking for appropriate public repositories for

  • Openness in science is key to keeping public trust

  • Silence stifles progress, says Mark Yarborough. The scientific enterprise needs a transparent culture that actively finds and fixes problems.

  • Photonics: Twisty light sends images across Vienna

  • Beams of light twisted into a corkscrew shape have carried data more than 3 kilometres over Vienna's skyline in an effort to increase the information-carrying capacity of electromagnetic waves.Adding orbital angular momentum (OAM) to laser beams— when fluctuations of light waves are staggered

  • Cancer genetics: Exploding DNA goes back together

  • The mysterious giant chromosomes found in some cancers are formed when DNA shatters and recombines.Neochromosomes are made up of pieces of the 46 chromosomes that each human cell normally carries. To study how they form, a team led by Anthony Papenfuss at the Walter

  • Biotechnology: Mind manipulates gene expression

  • Human brain activity has been harnessed to control gene expression in mice.Martin Fussenegger at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his colleagues created a small, implantable cartridge containing human cells engineered to produce a protein called SEAP when exposed to light.

  • Animal behaviour: Eyespots shift predators' attack

  • Eye-shaped markings at the edges of butterfly wings stop predators from striking vital body parts.Kathleen Prudic, now at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and her team let praying mantids (Tenodera sinensis) feed on Bicyclus anynana butterflies, which have small, drab eyespots

  • Materials: Molecular fan opens under light

  • Researchers have constructed micrometre-sized, stacked layers that slide open like a folding fan when illuminated.Yanke Che and his colleagues at the Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences created thin, ribbon-like structures up to one micrometre wide.The ribbons are composed of multiple layers, each

  • Conservation genetics: Leopard-skin origins traced

  • DNA analysis can reveal the origins of products from endangered species, which could help to curb illegal trade.Such goods are often seized far from their origins, making it hard to know where to focus enforcement. Samrat Mondol of the National Centre for Biological Sciences

  • Microbiology: Beware tainted microbe studies

  • DNA contamination is ubiquitous in laboratory reagents commonly used to analyse the microbes that inhabit the human body.Susannah Salter at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, Alan Walker at the University of Aberdeen, UK, and their colleagues used off-the-shelf DNA-extraction kits and

  • Astronomy: Merged stars dodge black hole

  • A mysterious cloud-like object that survived a close encounter with a black hole might be a merged pair of stars.Andrea Ghez of the University of California in Los Angeles and her team used the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to observe the

  • Climate science: Water vapour predicts flooding

  • Streams of concentrated water vapour in the atmosphere could be used to predict flooding in Europe more accurately than rainfall does.A team led by David Lavers of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK, looked at forecasts from last winter, when

  • Unusual reference attracts notoriety

  • An editorial oversight has turned a report on fish pigmentation into one of the year's most talked-about papers. The study of poeciliid fishes, first published online in July by the journal Ethology (Z. W. Culumber et al. Ethology120, 1090–1100; 2014),

  • Seven days: 14–20 November

  • The week in science: China and United States announce plans to cut emissions; European Commission scraps chief science adviser post; and pharma firm Actavis announces a US$66-billion takeover.

  • Philae’s 64 hours of comet science yield rich data

  • Comet lander is now hibernating, but has already altered our understanding of these objects.

  • Crisis mappers turn to citizen scientists

  • Crowdsourced disaster surveys strive for more reliability in online collaboration.

  • Green List promotes best conservation areas

  • Project puts spotlight on protected reserves that boost biodiversity.

  • ‘Platinum’ genome takes on disease

  • Disease sites targeted in assembly of more-complete version of the human genome sequence.

  • Joint effort nabs next wave of US supercomputers

  • National laboratories collaborate to purchase top-flight machines.

  • Indirect costs: Keeping the lights on

  • Every year, the US government gives research institutions billions of dollars towards infrastructure and administrative support. A Nature investigation reveals who is benefiting most.

  • Developing world: Far-flung physics

  • The International Centre for Theoretical Physics was set up to seed science in the developing world; 100,000 researchers later, it is still growing.

  • Air pollution: Clean up our skies

  • Improve air quality and mitigate climate-change simultaneously, urge Julia Schmale and colleagues.

  • Climate forecasting: Build high-resolution global climate models

  • International supercomputing centres dedicated to climate prediction are needed to reduce uncertainties in global warming, says Tim Palmer.

  • History of science: Pursuing the primordial

  • Ted Nield ponders a history of how European science came to grasp Earth's age.

  • Books in brief

  • Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.

  • Evolution: students debate the debate

  • I asked my third- and fourth-year undergraduate students whether they thought that evolutionary theory needs rethinking (see Nature514, 161–164;10.1038/514161a2014). More than two-thirds (26 out of 38) argued that it did not — because the synthesis proposed by

  • Evolution: viruses are key players

  • The debate on rethinking evolutionary theory (see Nature514, 161–164;10.1038/514161a2014) should include viruses. By integrating into host DNA, viruses have markedly influenced the evolution and development of cellular organisms (see, for example, F.BaluškaAnn. NY Acad. Sci.

  • Evolution: networks and energy count

  • Standard evolutionary theory should incorporate the complexity of adaptive evolving systems— including species, niches and environment — as dynamic relationship networks (see Nature514, 161–164;10.1038/514161a2014).For example, epigenetic inheritance — which changes gene expression but not the

  • Macaques: Anti-vivisectionists respond

  • Following our seven-month undercover investigation, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) strongly disagrees with your claim that the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany, has done a “good job” on its website in explaining its neuroscience research on macaques (see Nature513

  • Philanthropy: Ice-bucket challenge should jolt funding

  • The Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi was among the vast number of people who accepted the 'ice-bucket challenge' this summer, helping to raise [euro]2 million (US$2.5 million) in Italy for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (see Nature514

  • Allison Doupe (1954–2014)

  • Neuroscientist and psychiatrist who linked birdsong and human speech.

  • Mentoring awards: Focus on people

  • Nature announces this year's outstanding science mentors in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

  • Turning point: Kate McAllister

  • A clinical neuroscientist explains her passion for science communication

  • Postdocs: Office poll

  • The number of US postdoc offices has ballooned, but their budgets are tiny

  • Education: Graduate feedback

  • The US National Science Foundation aims to improve PhD education with input from an online portal.

  • Stereotyping: PhD costume slammed

  • A gown that shows more cleavage than credentials gains critics.

  • When the music ends

  • Criminal records.

  • Melanoma

  • The cancer that rises with the sun

  • Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that normally starts in the skin. It can strike anyone but is most common in people with pale skin, and it is getting more common. By David Holmes.

  • Risk factors: Riddle of the rays

  • Spending time in the sun is a major risk factor for melanoma, but the relationship is not as straightforward as it seems.

  • Perspective: Catch melanoma early

  • The United States and other nations should follow Germany in routine skin screening, say Susan M. Swetter and Alan C. Geller.

  • Drug development: A chance of survival

  • People with advanced melanoma are living longer thanks to treatments that target cancerous cells or encourage the immune system to wipe out the tumour.

  • Skin colour: No hiding in the dark

  • Melanoma is most common in light-skinned people, but it can also afflict those with darker pigment. Finding out why would help to explain the disease's origins.

  • Protection: The sunscreen pill

  • A tablet that protects against sunburn is an attractive idea, but the science is patchy.

  • Perspective: Protect the USA from UVA

  • The United States does not have access to the latest sunscreens. The Sunscreen Innovation Act could set that right, says Michael J. Werner.

  • Correction

  • The News story '“Forgotten” NIH smallpox virus languishes on death row' (Nature514, 544; 2014) wrongly said that the WHO Advisory Committee on Variola Virus Research agreed to commission a report on the bioterror threat from synthesized smallpox — that report was

  • Genomics: Mice in the ENCODE spotlight

  • Following on from affiliated projects in humans and model invertebrates, the Mouse ENCODE Project presents comprehensive data sets on genome regulation in this key mammalian model. See Articles p.355, p.365, p.371 aamp; Letter p.402

  • Origins of life: RNA made in its own mirror image

  • An RNA enzyme has been generated that can assemble a mirror-image version of itself. The finding helps to answer a long-standing conundrum about how RNA molecules could have proliferated on prebiotic Earth. See Letter p.440

  • Materials physics: Reactive walls

  • Domain walls are natural borders in ferromagnetic, ferroelectric or ferroelastic materials. It seems that they can also be reactive areas that produce crystallographic phases never before observed in bulk materials. See Letter p.379

  • Biochemistry: Succinate strikes

  • The high levels of tissue-damaging reactive oxygen species that arise during a stroke or heart attack have been shown to be generated through the accumulation of the metabolic intermediate succinate. See Letter p.431

  • Biogeochemistry: Agriculture and the global carbon cycle

  • Evolving agricultural practices dramatically increased crop production in the twentieth century. Two studies now find that this has altered the seasonal flux of atmospheric carbon dioxide. See Letters p.394 aamp; p.398

  • Plant science: Leaf veins share the time of day

  • Techniques for isolating and analysing leaf cell types have now been developed, leading to the discovery that circadian clocks in the plant vasculature communicate with and regulate clocks in neighbouring cells. See Letter p.419

  • A comparative encyclopedia of DNA elements in the mouse genome

  • The laboratory mouse shares the majority of its protein-coding genes with humans, making it the premier model organism in biomedical research, yet the two mammals differ in significant ways. To gain greater insights into both shared and species-specific transcriptional and cellular regulatory programs in the

  • Conservation of trans-acting circuitry during mammalian regulatory evolution

  • The basic body plan and major physiological axes have been highly conserved during mammalian evolution, yet only a small fraction of the human genome sequence appears to be subject to evolutionary constraint. To quantify cis- versus trans-acting contributions to mammalian regulatory evolution, we performed genomic

  • Principles of regulatory information conservation between mouse and human

  • To broaden our understanding of the evolution of gene regulation mechanisms, we generated occupancy profiles for 34 orthologous transcription factors (TFs) in human–mouse erythroid progenitor, lymphoblast and embryonic stem-cell lines. By combining the genome-wide transcription factor occupancy repertoires, associated epigenetic signals, and co-association patterns, here

  • The power of relativistic jets is larger than the luminosity of their accretion disks

  • Theoretical models for the production of relativistic jets from active galactic nuclei predict that jet power arises from the spin and mass of the central supermassive black hole, as well as from the magnetic field near the event horizon. The physical mechanism underlying the contribution from the magnetic field is the torque exerted on the rotating black hole by the field amplified by the accreting material. If the squared magnetic field is proportional to the accretion rate, then there will be a correlation between jet power and accretion luminosity. There is evidence for such a correlation, but inadequate knowledge of the accretion luminosity of the limited and inhomogeneous samples used prevented a firm conclusion. Here we report an analysis of archival observations of a sample of blazars (quasars whose jets point towards Earth) that overcomes previous limitations. We find a clear correlation between jet power, as measured through theγ-ray luminosity, and accretion luminosity, as measured by the broad emission lines, with the jet power dominating the disk luminosity, in agreement with numerical simulations. This implies that the magnetic field threading the black hole horizon reaches the maximum value sustainable by the accreting matter.

  • Artificial chemical and magnetic structure at the domain walls of an epitaxial oxide

  • Progress in nanotechnology requires new approaches to materials synthesis that make it possible to control material functionality down to the smallest scales. An objective of materials research is to achieve enhanced control over the physical properties of materials such as ferromagnets, ferroelectrics and superconductors. In this context, complex oxides and inorganic perovskites are attractive because slight adjustments of their atomic structures can produce large physical responses and result in multiple functionalities. In addition, these materials often contain ferroelastic domains. The intrinsic symmetry breaking that takes place at the domain walls can induce properties absent from the domains themselves, such as magnetic or ferroelectric order and other functionalities, as well as coupling between them. Moreover, large domain wall densities create intense strain gradients, which can also affect the material’s properties. Here we show that, owing to large local stresses, domain walls can promote the formation of unusual phases. In this sense, the domain walls can function as nanoscale chemical reactors. We synthesize a two-dimensional ferromagnetic phase at the domain walls of the orthorhombic perovskite terbium manganite (TbMnO3), which was grown in thin layers under epitaxial strain on strontium titanate (SrTiO3) substrates. This phase is yet to be created by standard chemical routes. The density of the two-dimensional sheets can be tuned by changing the film thickness or the substrate lattice parameter (that is, the epitaxial strain), and the distance between sheets can be made as small as 5 nanometres in ultrathin films, such that the new phase at domain walls represents up to 25 per cent of the film volume. The general concept of using domain walls of epitaxial oxides to promote the formation of unusual phases may be applicable to other materials systems, thus giving access to new classes of nanoscale materials for applications in nanoelectronics and spintronics.

  • Approaching disorder-free transport in high-mobility conjugated polymers

  • Conjugated polymers enable the production of flexible semiconductor devices that can be processed from solution at low temperatures. Over the past 25 years, device performance has improved greatly as a wide variety of molecular structures have been studied. However, one major limitation has not been overcome; transport properties in polymer films are still limited by pervasive conformational and energetic disorder. This not only limits the rational design of materials with higher performance, but also prevents the study of physical phenomena associated with an extended π-electron delocalization along the polymer backbone. Here we report a comparative transport study of several high-mobility conjugated polymers by field-effect-modulated Seebeck, transistor and sub-bandgap optical absorption measurements. We show that in several of these polymers, most notably in a recently reported, indacenodithiophene-based donor–acceptor copolymer with a near-amorphous microstructure, the charge transport properties approach intrinsic disorder-free limits at which all molecular sites are thermally accessible. Molecular dynamics simulations identify the origin of this long sought-after regime as a planar, torsion-free backbone conformation that is surprisingly resilient to side-chain disorder. Our results provide molecular-design guidelines for ‘disorder-free’ conjugated polymers.

  • Overcoming the limitations of directed C–H functionalizations of heterocycles

  • In directed C–H activation reactions, any nitrogen or sulphur atoms present in heterocyclic substrates will coordinate strongly with metal catalysts. This coordination, which can lead to catalyst poisoning or C–H functionalization at an undesired position, limits the application of C–H activation reactions in heterocycle-based drug discovery, in which regard they have attracted much interest from pharmaceutical companies. Here we report a robust and synthetically useful method that overcomes the complications associated with performing C–H functionalization reactions on heterocycles. Our approach employs a simple N-methoxy amide group, which serves as both a directing group and an anionic ligand that promotes the in situ generation of the reactive PdX2 (X = ArCONOMe) species from a Pd(0) source using air as the sole oxidant. In this way, the PdX2 species is localized near the target C–H bond, avoiding interference from any nitrogen or sulphur atoms present in the heterocyclic substrates. This reaction overrides the conventional positional selectivity patterns observed with substrates containing strongly coordinating heteroatoms, including nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus. Thus, this operationally simple aerobic reaction demonstrates that it is possible to bypass a fundamental limitation that has long plagued applications of directed C–H activation in medicinal chemistry.

  • Agricultural Green Revolution as a driver of increasing atmospheric CO2 seasonal amplitude

  • The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record displays a prominent seasonal cycle that arises mainly from changes in vegetation growth and the corresponding CO2 uptake during the boreal spring and summer growing seasons and CO2 release during the autumn and winter seasons. The CO2 seasonal amplitude has increased over the past five decades, suggesting an increase in Northern Hemisphere biospheric activity. It has been proposed that vegetation growth may have been stimulated by higher concentrations of CO2 as well as by warming in recent decades, but such mechanisms have been unable to explain the full range and magnitude of the observed increase in CO2 seasonal amplitude. Here we suggest that the intensification of agriculture (the Green Revolution, in which much greater crop yield per unit area was achieved by hybridization, irrigation and fertilization) during the past five decades is a driver of changes in the seasonal characteristics of the global carbon cycle. Our analysis of CO2 data and atmospheric inversions shows a robust 15 per cent long-term increase in CO2 seasonal amplitude from 1961 to 2010, punctuated by large decadal and interannual variations. Using a terrestrial carbon cycle model that takes into account high-yield cultivars, fertilizer use and irrigation, we find that the long-term increase in CO2 seasonal amplitude arises from two major regions: the mid-latitude cropland between 25° N and 60° N and the high-latitude natural vegetation between 50° N and 70° N. The long-term trend of seasonal amplitude increase is 0.311 ± 0.027 per cent per year, of which sensitivity experiments attribute 45, 29 and 26 per cent to land-use change, climate variability and change, andincreased productivity due to CO2 fertilization, respectively. Vegetation growth was earlier by one to two weeks, as measured by the mid-point of vegetation carbon uptake, and took up 0.5 petagrams more carbon in July, the height of the growing season, during 2001–2010 than in 1961–1970, suggesting that human land use and management contribute to seasonal changes in the CO2 exchange between the biosphere and the atmosphere.

  • Direct human influence on atmospheric CO2 seasonality from increased cropland productivity

  • Ground- and aircraft-based measurements show that the seasonal amplitude of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations has increased by as much as 50 per cent over the past 50 years. This increase has been linked to changes in temperate, boreal and arctic ecosystem properties and processes such as enhanced photosynthesis, increased heterotrophic respiration, and expansion of woody vegetation. However, the precise causal mechanisms behind the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 seasonality remain unclear. Here we use production statistics and a carbon accounting model to show that increases in agricultural productivity, which have been largely overlooked in previous investigations, explain as much as a quarter of the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 seasonality. Specifically, Northern Hemisphere extratropical maize, wheat, rice, and soybean production grew by 240 per cent between 1961 and 2008, thereby increasing the amount of net carbon uptake by croplands during the Northern Hemisphere growing season by 0.33 petagrams. Maize alone accounts for two-thirds of this change, owing mostly to agricultural intensification within concentrated production zones in the midwestern United States and northern China. Maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans account for about 68 per cent of extratropical dry biomass production, so it is likely that the total impact of increased agricultural production exceeds the amount quantified here.

  • Topologically associating domains are stable units of replication-timing regulation

  • Eukaryotic chromosomes replicate in a temporal order known as the replication-timing program. In mammals, replication timing is cell-type-specific with at least half the genome switching replication timing during development, primarily in units of 400–800 kilobases (‘replication domains’), whose positions are preserved in different cell types, conserved between species, and appear to confine long-range effects of chromosome rearrangements. Early and late replication correlate, respectively, with open and closed three-dimensional chromatincompartments identified by high-resolution chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C), and, to a lesser extent, late replication correlates with lamina-associated domains (LADs). Recent Hi-C mapping has unveiled substructure within chromatin compartments called topologically associating domains (TADs) that are largely conserved in their positions between cell types and are similar in size to replication domains. However, TADs can be further sub-stratified into smaller domains, challenging the significance of structures at any particular scale. Moreover, attempts to reconcile TADs and LADs to replication-timing data have not revealed a common, underlying domain structure. Here we localize boundaries of replication domains to the early-replicating border of replication-timing transitions and map their positions in 18 human and 13 mouse cell types. We demonstrate that, collectively, replication domain boundaries share a near one-to-one correlation with TAD boundaries, whereas within a cell type, adjacent TADs that replicate at similar times obscure replication domain boundaries, largely accounting for the previously reported lack of alignment. Moreover, cell-type-specific replication timing of TADs partitions the genome into two large-scale sub-nuclear compartments revealing that replication-timing transitions are indistinguishable from late-replicating regions in chromatin composition and lamina association and accounting for the reduced correlation of replication timing to LADs and heterochromatin. Our results reconcile cell-type-specific sub-nuclear compartmentalization and replication timing with developmentally stable structural domains and offer a unified model for large-scale chromosome structure and function.

  • The drivers of tropical speciation

  • Since the recognition that allopatric speciation can be induced by large-scale reconfigurations of the landscape that isolate formerly continuous populations, such as the separation of continents by plate tectonics, the uplift of mountains or the formation of large rivers, landscape change has been viewed as a primary driver of biological diversification. This process is referred to in biogeography as vicariance. In the most species-rich region of the world, the Neotropics, the sundering of populations associated with the Andean uplift is ascribed this principal role in speciation. An alternative model posits that rather than being directly linked to landscape change, allopatric speciation is initiated to a greater extent by dispersal events, with the principal drivers of speciation being organism-specific abilities to persist and disperse in the landscape. Landscape change is not a necessity for speciation in this model. Here we show that spatial and temporal patterns of genetic differentiation in Neotropical birds are highly discordant across lineages and are not reconcilable with a model linking speciation solely to landscape change. Instead, the strongest predictors of speciation are the amount of time a lineage has persisted in the landscape and the ability of birds to move through the landscape matrix. These results, augmented by the observation that most species-level diversity originated after episodes of major Andean uplift in the Neogene period, suggest that dispersal and differentiation on a matrix previously shaped by large-scale landscape events was a major driver of avian speciation in lowland Neotropical rainforests.

  • Individual improvements and selective mortality shape lifelong migratory performance

  • Billions of organisms, from bacteria to humans, migrate each year and research on their migration biology is expanding rapidly through ever more sophisticated remote sensing technologies. However, little is known about how migratory performance develops through life for any organism. To date, age variation has been almost systematically simplified into a dichotomous comparison between recently born juveniles at their first migration versus adults of unknown age. These comparisons have regularly highlighted better migratory performance by adults compared with juveniles, but it is unknown whether such variation is gradual or abrupt and whether it is driven by improvements within the individual, by selective mortality of poor performers, or both. Here we exploit the opportunity offered by long-term monitoring of individuals through Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite tracking to combine within-individual and cross-sectional data on 364 migration episodes from 92 individuals of a raptorial bird, aged 1–27 years old. We show that the development of migratory behaviour follows a consistent trajectory, more gradual and prolonged than previously appreciated, and that this is promoted by both individual improvements and selective mortality, mainly operating in early life and during the pre-breedingmigration. Individuals of different age used different travelling tactics and varied in their ability to exploit tailwinds or to cope with wind drift. All individuals seemed aligned along a race with their contemporary peers, whose outcome was largely determined by the ability to depart early, affecting their subsequent recruitment, reproduction and survival. Understanding how climate change and human action can affect the migration of younger animals may be the key to managing and forecasting the declines of many threatened migrants.

  • Synaptic dysregulation in a human iPS cell model of mental disorders

  • Dysregulated neurodevelopment with altered structural and functional connectivity is believed to underlie many neuropsychiatric disorders, and‘a disease of synapses’ is the major hypothesis for the biological basis of schizophrenia. Although this hypothesis has gained indirect support from human post-mortem brain analyses and genetic studies, little is known about the pathophysiology of synapses in patient neurons and how susceptibility genes for mental disorders could lead to synaptic deficits in humans. Genetics of most psychiatric disorders are extremely complex due to multiple susceptibility variants with low penetrance and variable phenotypes. Rare, multiply affected, large families in which a single genetic locus is probably responsible for conferring susceptibility have proven invaluable for the study of complex disorders. Here we generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from four members of a family in which a frameshift mutation of disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) co-segregated with major psychiatric disorders and we further produced different isogenic iPS cell lines via gene editing. We showed that mutant DISC1 causes synaptic vesicle release deficits in iPS-cell-derived forebrain neurons. Mutant DISC1 depletes wild-type DISC1 protein and, furthermore, dysregulates expression of many genes related to synapses and psychiatric disorders in human forebrain neurons. Our study reveals that a psychiatric disorder relevant mutation causes synapse deficits and transcriptional dysregulation in human neurons and our findings provide new insight into the molecular and synaptic etiopathology of psychiatric disorders.

  • Tissue-specific clocks in Arabidopsis show asymmetric coupling

  • Many organisms rely on a circadian clock system to adapt to daily and seasonal environmental changes. The mammalian circadian clock consists of a central clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus that has tightly coupled neurons and synchronizes other clocks in peripheral tissues. Plants also have a circadian clock, but plant circadian clock function has long been assumed to be uncoupled. Only a few studies have been able to show weak, local coupling among cells. Here, by implementing two novel techniques, we have performed a comprehensive tissue-specific analysis of leaf tissues, and show that the vasculature and mesophyll clocks asymmetrically regulate each other in Arabidopsis. The circadian clock in the vasculature has characteristics distinct from other tissues, cycles robustly without environmental cues, and affects circadian clock regulation in other tissues. Furthermore, we found that vasculature-enriched genes that are rhythmically expressed are preferentially expressed in the evening, whereas rhythmic mesophyll-enriched genes tend to be expressed in the morning. Our results set the stage for a deeper understanding of how the vasculature circadian clock in plants regulates key physiological responses such as flowering time.

  • Members of the human gut microbiota involved in recovery from Vibrio cholerae infection

  • Given the global burden of diarrhoeal diseases, it is important to understand how members of the gut microbiota affect the risk for, course of, and recovery from disease in children and adults. The acute, voluminous diarrhoea caused by Vibrio cholerae represents a dramatic example of enteropathogen invasion and gut microbial community disruption. Here we conduct a detailed time-series metagenomic study of faecal microbiota collected during the acute diarrhoeal and recovery phases of cholera in a cohort of Bangladeshi adults living in an area with a high burden of disease. We find that recovery is characterized by a pattern of accumulation of bacterial taxa that shows similarities to the pattern of assembly/maturation of the gut microbiota in healthy Bangladeshi children. To define the underlying mechanisms, we introduce into gnotobiotic mice an artificial community composed of human gut bacterial species that directly correlate with recovery from cholera in adults and are indicative of normal microbiota maturation in healthy Bangladeshi children. One of the species, Ruminococcus obeum, exhibits consistent increases in its relative abundance upon V. cholerae infection of the mice. Follow-up analyses, including mono- and co-colonization studies, establish that R. obeum restricts V. cholerae colonization, that R. obeum luxS (autoinducer-2 (AI-2) synthase) expression and AI-2 production increase significantly with V. cholerae invasion, and that R. obeum AI-2 causes quorum-sensing-mediated repression of several V. cholerae colonization factors. Co-colonization with V. cholerae mutants discloses that R. obeum AI-2 reduces Vibrio colonization/pathogenicity through a novel pathway that does not depend on the V. cholerae AI-2 sensor, LuxP. The approach described can be used to mine the gut microbiota of Bangladeshi or other populations for members that use autoinducers and/or other mechanisms to limit colonization with V. cholerae, or conceivably other enteropathogens.

  • Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies

  • Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host–parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

  • Ischaemic accumulation of succinate controls reperfusion injury through mitochondrial ROS

  • Ischaemia-reperfusion injury occurs when the blood supply to an organ is disrupted and then restored, and underlies many disorders, notably heart attack and stroke. While reperfusion of ischaemic tissue is essential for survival, it also initiates oxidative damage, cell death and aberrant immune responses through the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although mitochondrial ROS production in ischaemia reperfusion is established, it has generally been considered a nonspecific response to reperfusion. Here we develop a comparative in vivo metabolomic analysis, and unexpectedly identify widely conserved metabolic pathways responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during ischaemia reperfusion. We show that selective accumulation of the citric acid cycle intermediate succinate is a universal metabolic signature of ischaemia in a range of tissues and is responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during reperfusion. Ischaemic succinate accumulation arises from reversal of succinate dehydrogenase, which in turn is driven by fumarate overflow from purine nucleotide breakdown and partial reversal of the malate/aspartate shuttle. After reperfusion, the accumulated succinate is rapidly re-oxidized by succinate dehydrogenase, driving extensive ROS generation by reverse electron transport at mitochondrial complex I. Decreasing ischaemic succinate accumulation by pharmacological inhibition is sufficient to ameliorate in vivo ischaemia-reperfusion injury in murine models of heart attack and stroke. Thus, we have identified a conserved metabolic response of tissues to ischaemia and reperfusion that unifies many hitherto unconnected aspects of ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Furthermore, these findings reveal a new pathway for metabolic control of ROS production in vivo, while demonstrating that inhibition of ischaemic succinate accumulation and its oxidation after subsequent reperfusion is a potential therapeutic target to decrease ischaemia-reperfusion injury in a range of pathologies.

  • Transcript-RNA-templated DNA recombination and repair

  • Homologous recombination is a molecular process that has multiple important roles in DNA metabolism, both for DNA repair and genetic variation in all forms of life. Generally, homologous recombination involves the exchange of genetic information between two identical or nearly identical DNA molecules; however, homologous recombination can also occur between RNA molecules, as shown for RNA viruses. Previous research showed that synthetic RNA oligonucleotides can act as templates for DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in yeast and human cells, and artificial long RNA templates injected in ciliate cells can guide genomic rearrangements. Here we report that endogenous transcript RNA mediates homologous recombination with chromosomal DNA in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We developed a system to detect the events of homologous recombination initiated by transcript RNA following the repair of a chromosomal DSB occurring either in a homologous but remote locus, or in the same transcript-generating locus in reverse-transcription-defective yeast strains. We found that RNA–DNA recombination is blocked by ribonucleases H1 and H2. In the presence of H-type ribonucleases, DSB repair proceeds through a complementary DNA intermediate, whereas in their absence, it proceeds directly through RNA. The proximity of the transcript to its chromosomal DNA partner in the same locus facilitates Rad52-driven homologous recombination during DSB repair. We demonstrate that yeast and human Rad52 proteins efficiently catalyse annealing of RNA to a DSB-like DNA end in vitro. Our results reveal a novel mechanism of homologous recombination and DNA repair in which transcript RNA is used as a template for DSB repair. Thus, considering the abundance of RNA transcripts in cells, RNA may have a marked impact on genomic stability and plasticity.

  • A cross-chiral RNA polymerase ribozyme

  • Thirty years ago it was shown that the non-enzymatic, template-directed polymerization of activated mononucleotides proceeds readily in a homochiral system, but is severely inhibited by the presence of the opposing enantiomer. This finding poses a severe challenge for the spontaneous emergence of RNA-based life, and has led to the suggestion that either RNA was preceded by some other genetic polymer that is not subject to chiral inhibition or chiral symmetry was broken through chemical processes before the origin of RNA-based life. Once an RNA enzyme arose that could catalyse the polymerization of RNA, it would have been possible to distinguish among the two enantiomers, enabling RNA replication and RNA-based evolution to occur. It is commonly thought that the earliest RNA polymerase and its substrates would have been of the same handedness, but this is not necessarily the case. Replicating d- and l-RNA molecules may have emerged together, based on the ability of structured RNAs of one handedness to catalyse the templated polymerization of activated mononucleotides of the opposite handedness. Here we develop such a cross-chiral RNA polymerase, using in vitro evolution starting from a population of random-sequence RNAs. The d-RNA enzyme, consisting of 83 nucleotides, catalyses the joining of l-mono- or oligonucleotide substrates on a complementary l-RNA template, and similar behaviour occurs for the l-enzyme with d-substrates and a d-template. Chiral inhibition is avoided because the 106-fold rate acceleration of the enzyme only pertains to cross-chiral substrates. The enzyme’s activity is sufficient to generate full-length copies of its enantiomer through the templated joining of 11 component oligonucleotides.

  • Discovery and characterization of small molecules that target the GTPase Ral

  • The Ras-like GTPases RalA and RalB are important drivers of tumour growth and metastasis. Chemicals that block Ral function would be valuable as research tools and for cancer therapeutics. Here we used protein structure analysis and virtual screening to identify drug-like molecules that bind to a site on the GDP-bound form of Ral. The compounds RBC6, RBC8 and RBC10 inhibited the binding of Ral to its effector RALBP1, as well as inhibiting Ral-mediated cell spreading of murine embryonic fibroblasts and anchorage-independent growth of human cancer cell lines. The binding of the RBC8 derivative BQU57 to RalB was confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance and 1H–15N transverse relaxation-optimized spectroscopy (TROSY) NMR spectroscopy. RBC8 and BQU57 show selectivity for Ral relative to the GTPases Ras and RhoA and inhibit tumour xenograft growth to a similar extent to the depletion of Ral using RNA interference. Our results show the utility of structure-based discovery for the development of therapeutics for Ral-dependent cancers.

  • Structures of bacterial homologues of SWEET transporters in two distinct conformations

  • SWEETs and their prokaryotic homologues are monosaccharide and disaccharide transporters that are present from Archaea to plants and humans. SWEETs play crucial roles in cellular sugar efflux processes: that is, in phloem loading, pollen nutrition and nectar secretion. Their bacterial homologues, which are called SemiSWEETs, are among the smallest known transporters. Here we show that SemiSWEET molecules, which consist of a triple-helix bundle, form symmetrical, parallel dimers, thereby generating the translocation pathway. Two SemiSWEET isoforms were crystallized, one in an apparently open state and one in an occluded state, indicating that SemiSWEETs and SWEETs are transporters that undergo rocking-type movements during the transport cycle. The topology of the triple-helix bundle is similar yet distinct to that of the basic building block of animal and plant major facilitator superfamily (MFS) transporters (for example, GLUTs and SUTs). This finding indicates two possibilities: that SWEETs and MFS transporters evolved from an ancestral triple-helix bundle or that the triple-helix bundle represents convergent evolution. In SemiSWEETs and SWEETs, two triple-helix bundles are arranged in a parallel configuration to produce the 6- and 6 + 1-transmembrane-helix pores, respectively. In the 12-transmembrane-helix MFS transporters, four triple-helix bundles are arranged into an alternating antiparallel configuration, resulting in a much larger 2 × 2 triple-helix bundle forming the pore. Given the similarity of SemiSWEETs and SWEETs to PQ-loop amino acid transporters and to mitochondrial pyruvate carriers (MPCs), the structures characterized here may also be relevant to other transporters in the MtN3 clan. The insight gained from the structures of these transporters and from the analysis of mutations of conserved residues will improve the understanding of the transport mechanism, as well as allow comparative studies of the different superfamilies involved in sugar transport and the evolution of transporters in general.

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  • Molecular biology: Entry signals control development

  • Certain structural elements allow messenger RNAs not usually processed by the protein-synthesis apparatus to be translated. It now seems that they also control the expression of genes involved in embryonic development.

  • Diabetes: The good in fat

  • A new class of fatty acid— found in food and synthesized by mammalian tissues — enhances glucose uptake from the blood and reduces inflammation, suggesting that these fats might be used to treat diabetes.

  • Behavioural economics: Professional identity can increase dishonesty

  • An experiment shows that although bank employees behave honestly on average, their dishonesty increases when they make decisions after having been primed to think about their professional identity.

  • Microbiology: A backup for bacteria

  • The finding that intestinal viruses can substitute for intestinal bacteria to promote the health of their mammalian hosts raises the possibility that viruses in the gut may be beneficial in some circumstances.

  • Structure of influenza A polymerase bound to the viral RNA promoter

  • The crystal structure of the bat-specific influenza A polymerase in complex with the viral RNA promoter is presented, revealing how binding of the 5′ end of the viral RNA is required to activate or enhance the polymerase allosterically.

  • Structural insight into cap-snatching and RNA synthesis by influenza polymerase

  • Atomic resolution crystal structures of influenza A and B polymerases are presented; comparison of these structures provides mechanistic insight into influenza polymerase functions, explaining the processes of cap-snatching and cap-dependent priming, which are unique to segmented negative-strand RNA viruses.

  • RNA regulons in Hox 5′ UTRs confer ribosome specificity to gene regulation

  • Specialized ribosomes (with a particular protein composition) carry out translation of specific transcripts; analysis of Hox mRNA translation in mice reveals that unique RNA structural elements within their 5′ UTRs, including internal ribosome entry sites and translation inhibitory elements, are responsible for this specialized mode of translation.

  • Design and fabrication of memory devices based on nanoscale polyoxometalate clusters

  • Flash memory devices—that is, non-volatile computer storage media that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed—are vital for portable electronics, but the scaling down of metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) flash memory to sizes of below ten nanometres per data cell presents challenges. Molecules have been proposed to replace MOS flash memory, but they suffer from low electrical conductivity, high resistance, low device yield, and finite thermal stability, limiting their integration into current MOS technologies. Although great advances have been made in the pursuit of molecule-based flash memory, there are a number of significant barriers to the realization of devices using conventional MOS technologies. Here we show that core–shell polyoxometalate (POM) molecules can act as candidate storage nodes for MOS flash memory. Realistic, industry-standard device simulations validate our approach at thenanometre scale, where the device performance is determined mainly by the number of molecules in the storage media and not by their position. To exploit the nature of the core–shell POM clusters, we show, at both the molecular and device level, that embedding [(Se(iv)O3)2]4− as an oxidizable dopant in the cluster core allows the oxidation of the molecule to a [Se(v)2O6]2− moiety containing a {Se(v)–Se(v)} bond (where curly brackets indicate a moiety, not a molecule) and reveals a new 5+ oxidation state for selenium. This new oxidation state can be observed at the device level, resulting in a new type of memory, which we call ‘write-once-erase’. Taken together, these results show that POMs have the potential to be used as a realistic nanoscale flash memory. Also, the configuration of the doped POM core may lead to new types of electrical behaviour. This work suggests a route to the practical integration of configurable molecules in MOS technologies as the lithographic scales approach the molecular limit.

  • Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry

  • Trust in others’ honesty is a key component of the long-term performance of firms, industries, and even whole countries. However, in recent years, numerous scandals involving fraud have undermined confidence in the financial industry. Contemporary commentators have attributed these scandals to the financial sector’s business culture, but no scientific evidence supports this claim. Here we show that employees of a large, international bank behave, on average, honestly in a control condition. However, when their professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest. This effect is specific to bank employees because control experiments with employees from other industries and with students show that they do not become more dishonest when their professional identity or bank-related items are rendered salient. Our results thus suggest that the prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying that measures to re-establish an honest culture are very important.

  • An enteric virus can replace the beneficial function of commensal bacteria

  • Intestinal microbial communities have profound effects on host physiology. Whereas the symbiotic contribution of commensal bacteria is well established, the role of eukaryotic viruses that are present in the gastrointestinal tract under homeostatic conditions is undefined. Here we demonstrate that a common enteric RNA virus can replace the beneficial function of commensal bacteria in the intestine. Murine norovirus (MNV) infection of germ-free or antibiotic-treated mice restored intestinal morphology and lymphocyte function without inducing overt inflammation and disease. The presence of MNV also suppressed an expansion of group 2 innate lymphoid cells observed in the absence of bacteria, and induced transcriptional changes in the intestine associated with immune development and type I interferon (IFN) signalling. Consistent with this observation, the IFN-α receptor was essential for the ability of MNV to compensate for bacterial depletion. Importantly, MNV infection offset the deleterious effect of treatment with antibiotics in models of intestinal injury and pathogenic bacterial infection. These data indicate that eukaryotic viruses have the capacity to support intestinal homeostasis and shape mucosal immunity, similarly to commensal bacteria.

  • Allison Doupe (1954–2014)

  • Neuroscientist and psychiatrist who linked birdsong and human speech.

  • An ERK/Cdk5 axis controls the diabetogenic actions of PPARγ

  • Obesity-linked insulin resistance is a major precursor to the development of type 2 diabetes. Previous work has shown that phosphorylation of PPARγ (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ) at serine 273 by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) stimulates diabetogenic gene expression in adipose tissues. Inhibition of this modification is a key therapeutic mechanism for anti-diabetic drugs that bind PPARγ, such as the thiazolidinediones and PPARγ partial agonists or non-agonists. For a better understanding of the importance of this obesity-linked PPARγ phosphorylation, we created mice that ablated Cdk5 specifically in adipose tissues. These mice have both a paradoxical increase in PPARγ phosphorylation at serine 273 and worsened insulin resistance. Unbiased proteomic studies show that extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinases are activated in these knockout animals. Here we show that ERK directly phosphorylates serine 273 of PPARγ in a robust manner and that Cdk5 suppresses ERKs through direct action on a novel site in MAP kinase/ERK kinase (MEK). Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of MEK and ERK markedly improves insulin resistance in both obese wild-type and ob/ob mice, and also completely reverses the deleterious effects of the Cdk5 ablation. These data show that an ERK/Cdk5 axis controls PPARγ function and suggest that MEK/ERK inhibitors may hold promise for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

  • H2D+ observations give an age of at least one million years for a cloud core forming Sun-like stars

  • The age of dense interstellar cloud cores, where stars and planets form, is a crucial parameter in star formation and difficult to measure. Some models predict rapid collapse, whereas others predict timescales of more than one million years (ref. 3). One possible approach to determining the age is through chemical changes as cloud contraction occurs, in particular through indirect measurements of the ratio of the two spin isomers (ortho/para) of molecular hydrogen, H2, which decreases monotonically with age. This has been done for the dense cloud core L183, for which the deuterium fractionation of diazenylium (N2H+) was used as a chemical clock to infer that the core has contracted rapidly (on a timescale of less than 700,000 years). Among astronomically observable molecules, the spin isomers of the deuterated trihydrogen cation, ortho-H2D+ and para-H2D+, have the most direct chemical connections to H2 (refs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) and their abundance ratio provides a chemical clock that is sensitive to greater cloud core ages. So far this ratio has not been determined because para-H2D+ is very difficult to observe. The detection of its rotational ground-state line has only now become possible thanks to accurate measurements of its transition frequency in the laboratory, and recent progress in instrumentation technology. Here we report observations of ortho- and para-H2D+ emission and absorption, respectively, from the dense cloud core hosting IRAS 16293-2422 A/B, a group of nascent solar-type stars (with ages of less than 100,000 years). Using the ortho/para ratio in conjunction with chemical models, we find that the dense core has been chemically processed for at least one million years. The apparent discrepancy with the earlier N2H+ work arises because that chemical clock turns off sooner than the H2D+ clock, but both results imply that star-forming dense cores have ages of about one million years, rather than 100,000 years.

  • Inhibition of cell expansion by rapid ABP1-mediated auxin effect on microtubules

  • The prominent and evolutionarily ancient role of the plant hormone auxin is the regulation of cell expansion. Cell expansion requires ordered arrangement of the cytoskeleton but molecular mechanisms underlying its regulation by signalling molecules including auxin are unknown. Here we show in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana that in elongating cells exogenous application of auxin or redistribution of endogenous auxin induces very rapid microtubule re-orientation from transverse to longitudinal, coherent with the inhibition of cell expansion. This fast auxin effect requires auxin binding protein 1 (ABP1) and involves a contribution of downstream signalling components such as ROP6 GTPase, ROP-interactive protein RIC1 and the microtubule-severing protein katanin. These components are required for rapid auxin- and ABP1-mediated re-orientation of microtubules to regulate cell elongation in roots and dark-grown hypocotyls as well as asymmetric growth during gravitropic responses.

  • MicroRNA silencing for cancer therapy targeted to the tumour microenvironment

  • MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs expressed in different tissue and cell types that suppress the expression of target genes. As such, microRNAs are critical cogs in numerous biological processes, and dysregulated microRNA expression is correlated with many human diseases. Certain microRNAs, called oncomiRs, play a causal role in the onset and maintenance of cancer when overexpressed. Tumours that depend on these microRNAs are said to display oncomiR addiction. Some of the most effective anticancer therapies target oncogenes such as EGFR and HER2; similarly, inhibition of oncomiRs using antisense oligomers (that is, antimiRs) is an evolving therapeutic strategy. However, the in vivo efficacy of current antimiR technologies is hindered by physiological and cellular barriers to delivery into targeted cells. Here we introduce a novel antimiR delivery platform that targets the acidic tumour microenvironment, evades systemic clearance by the liver, and facilitates cell entry via a non-endocytic pathway. We find that the attachment of peptide nucleic acid antimiRs to a peptide with a low pH-induced transmembrane structure (pHLIP) produces a novel construct that could target the tumour microenvironment, transport antimiRs across plasma membranes under acidic conditions such as those found in solid tumours (pH approximately 6), and effectively inhibit the miR-155 oncomiR in a mouse model of lymphoma. This study introduces a new model for using antimiRs as anti-cancer drugs, which can have broad impacts on the field of targeted drug delivery.

  • Uncovering the polymerase-induced cytotoxicity of an oxidized nucleotide

  • Oxidative stress promotes genomic instability and human diseases. A common oxidized nucleoside is 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine, which is found both in DNA (8-oxo-G) and as a free nucleotide (8-oxo-dGTP). Nucleotide pools are especially vulnerable to oxidative damage. Therefore cells encode an enzyme (MutT/MTH1) that removes free oxidized nucleotides. This cleansing function is required for cancer cell survival and to modulate Escherichia coli antibiotic sensitivity in a DNA polymerase (pol)-dependent manner. How polymerases discriminate between damaged and non-damaged nucleotides is not well understood. This analysis is essential given the role of oxidized nucleotides in mutagenesis, cancer therapeutics, and bacterial antibiotics. Even with cellular sanitizing activities, nucleotide pools contain enough 8-oxo-dGTP to promote mutagenesis. This arises from the dual coding potential where 8-oxo-dGTP(anti) base pairs with cytosine and 8-oxo-dGTP(syn) uses its Hoogsteen edge to base pair with adenine. Here we use time-lapse crystallography to follow 8-oxo-dGTP insertion opposite adenine or cytosine with human pol β, to reveal that insertion is accommodated in either the syn- or anti-conformation, respectively. For 8-oxo-dGTP(anti) insertion, a novel divalent metal relieves repulsive interactions between the adducted guanine base and the triphosphate of the oxidized nucleotide. With either templating base, hydrogen-bonding interactions between the bases are lost as the enzyme reopens after catalysis, leading to a cytotoxic nicked DNA repair intermediate. Combining structural snapshots with kinetic and computational analysis reveals how 8-oxo-dGTP uses charge modulation during insertion that can lead to a blocked DNA repair intermediate.

  • Convergent loss of PTEN leads to clinical resistance to a PI(3)Kα inhibitor

  • Broad and deep tumour genome sequencing has shed new light on tumour heterogeneity and provided important insights into the evolution of metastases arising from different clones. There is an additional layer of complexity, in that tumour evolution may be influenced by selective pressure provided by therapy, in a similar fashion to that occurring in infectious diseases. Here we studied tumour genomic evolution in a patient (index patient) with metastatic breast cancer bearing an activating PIK3CA (phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha, PI(3)Kα) mutation. The patient was treated with the PI(3)Kα inhibitor BYL719, which achieved a lasting clinical response, but the patient eventually became resistant to this drug (emergence of lung metastases) and died shortly thereafter. A rapid autopsy was performed and material from a total of 14 metastatic sites was collected and sequenced. All metastatic lesions, when compared to the pre-treatment tumour, had a copy loss of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) and those lesions that became refractory to BYL719 had additional and different PTEN genetic alterations, resulting in the loss of PTEN expression. To put these results in context, we examined six other patients also treated with BYL719. Acquired bi-allelic loss of PTEN was found in one of these patients, whereas in two others PIK3CA mutations present in the primary tumour were no longer detected at the time of progression. To characterize our findings functionally, we examined the effects of PTEN knockdown in several preclinical models (both in cell lines intrinsically sensitive to BYL719 and in PTEN-null xenografts derived from our index patient), which we found resulted in resistance to BYL719, whereas simultaneous PI(3)K p110β blockade reverted this resistance phenotype. We conclude that parallel genetic evolution of separate metastatic sites with different PTEN genomic alterations leads to a convergent PTEN-null phenotype resistant to PI(3)Kα inhibition.

  • IAPP-driven metabolic reprogramming induces regression of p53-deficient tumours in vivo

  • TP53 is commonly altered in human cancer, and Tp53 reactivation suppresses tumours in vivo in mice (TP53 and Tp53 are also known as p53). This strategy has proven difficult to implement therapeutically, and here we examine an alternative strategy by manipulating the p53 family members, Tp63 and Tp73 (also known as p63 and p73, respectively). The acidic transactivation-domain-bearing (TA) isoforms of p63 and p73 structurally and functionally resemble p53, whereas theΔN isoforms (lacking the acidic transactivation domain) of p63 and p73 are frequently overexpressed in cancer and act primarily in a dominant-negative fashion against p53, TAp63 and TAp73 to inhibit their tumour-suppressive functions. The p53 family interacts extensively in cellular processes thatpromote tumour suppression, such as apoptosis and autophagy, thus a clear understanding of this interplay in cancer is needed to treat tumours with alterations in the p53 pathway. Here we show that deletion of the ΔN isoforms of p63 or p73 leads to metabolic reprogramming and regression of p53-deficient tumours through upregulation of IAPP, the gene that encodes amylin, a 37-amino-acid peptide co-secreted with insulin by the β cells of the pancreas. We found that IAPP is causally involved in this tumour regression and that amylin functions through the calcitonin receptor (CalcR) and receptor activity modifying protein 3 (RAMP3) to inhibit glycolysis and induce reactive oxygen species and apoptosis. Pramlintide, a synthetic analogue of amylin that is currently used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes, caused rapid tumour regression in p53-deficient thymic lymphomas, representing a novel strategy to target p53-deficient cancers.

  • Neurobiology: A molecular knife to dice depression

  • Chronic stress can cause depression in some individuals, but leaves others untouched. Engagement of a molecular pathway controlling the production of tiny RNA snippets might help to explain the difference.

  • Cell metabolism: Autophagy transcribed

  • Two studies find that an intracellular quality-control mechanism called autophagy is regulated by nuclear receptor proteins that govern the expression of autophagy genes.

  • Diet: Food choices for health and planet

  • Are you wondering what to prepare for dinner tonight? Data analyses reveal that certain food choices greatly benefit both your health and the environment. But what to do with this evidence remains a challenge to society.

  • Structural biology: Calcium-activated proteins visualized

  • The first crystal structures of bestrophin and lipid scramblase proteins cast light on how these protein families transport very different substrates across membranes, yet are both activated by calcium ions.

  • X-ray structure of a calcium-activated TMEM16 lipid scramblase

  • The authors describe the structure of a Ca2+-activated lipid scramblase which catalyses the passive movement of lipids between the two leaflets of a lipid bilayer; the structure reveals the location of a regulatory calcium-binding site embedded within the membrane and the presence of a hydrophilic membrane-traversing cavity that is exposed to the lipid bilayer, where catalysis is likely to occur.

  • β-catenin mediates stress resilience through Dicer1/microRNA regulation

  • Hereβ-catenin, which has been implicated in neurological and psychiatric diseases, including depression, is shown to mediate resilience to chronic stress in mice through induction of Dicer and microRNAs in nucleus accumbens, a key brain reward region.

  • Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health

  • As incomes grow, diets change, with varying impacts on human health and the environment; here the links are examined and suggestions made for diets that both improve health and minimize environmental impacts.

  • The mitotic checkpoint complex binds a second CDC20 to inhibit active APC/C

  • The spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) maintains genomic stability by delaying chromosome segregation until the last chromosome has attached to the mitotic spindle. The SAC prevents the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) ubiquitin ligase from recognizing cyclin B and securin by catalysing the incorporation of the APC/C co-activator, CDC20, into a complex called the mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC). The SAC works through unattached kinetochores generating a diffusible‘wait anaphase’ signal that inhibits the APC/C in the cytoplasm, but the nature of this signal remains a key unsolved problem. Moreover, the SAC and the APC/C are highly responsive to each other: the APC/C quickly targets cyclin B and securin once all the chromosomes attach in metaphase, but israpidly inhibited should kinetochore attachment be perturbed. How this is achieved is also unknown. Here, we show that the MCC can inhibit a second CDC20 that has already bound and activated the APC/C. We show how the MCC inhibits active APC/C and that this is essential for the SAC. Moreover, this mechanism can prevent anaphase in the absence of kinetochore signalling. Thus, we propose that the diffusible ‘wait anaphase’ signal could be the MCC itself, and explain how reactivating the SAC can rapidly inhibit active APC/C.

  • Nutrient-sensing nuclear receptors coordinate autophagy

  • Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process that recycles nutrients upon starvation and maintains cellular energy homeostasis. Its acute regulation by nutrient-sensing signalling pathways is well described, but its longer-term transcriptional regulation is not. The nuclear receptors peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPARα) and farnesoid X receptor (FXR) are activated in the fasted and fed liver, respectively. Here we show that both PPARα and FXR regulate hepatic autophagy in mice. Pharmacological activation of PPARα reverses the normal suppression of autophagy in the fed state, inducing autophagic lipiddegradation, or lipophagy. This response is lost in PPARα knockout (Ppara−/−, also known as Nr1c1−/−) mice, which are partially defective in the induction of autophagy by fasting. Pharmacological activation of the bile acid receptor FXR strongly suppresses the induction of autophagy in thefasting state, and this response is absent in FXR knockout (Fxr−/−, also known as Nr1h4−/−) mice, which show a partial defect in suppression of hepatic autophagy in the fed state. PPARα and FXR compete for binding to shared sites in autophagic gene promoters, with opposite transcriptional outputs. These results reveal complementary, interlocking mechanisms for regulation of autophagy by nutrient status.

  • Transcriptional regulation of autophagy by an FXR–CREB axis

  • Lysosomal degradation of cytoplasmic components by autophagy is essential for cellular survival and homeostasis under nutrient-deprived conditions. Acute regulation of autophagy by nutrient-sensing kinases is well defined, but longer-term transcriptional regulation is relatively unknown. Here we show that the fed-state sensing nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR) and the fasting transcriptional activator cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) coordinately regulate the hepatic autophagy gene network. Pharmacological activation of FXR repressed many autophagy genes and inhibited autophagy even in fasted mice, and feeding-mediated inhibition of macroautophagy was attenuated in FXR-knockout mice. From mouse liver chromatin immunoprecipitation and high-throughput sequencing data, FXR and CREB binding peaks were detected at 178 and 112 genes, respectively, out of 230 autophagy-related genes, and 78 genes showed shared binding, mostly in their promoter regions. CREB promoted autophagic degradation of lipids, or lipophagy, under nutrient-deprived conditions, and FXR inhibited this response. Mechanistically, CREB upregulated autophagy genes, including Atg7, Ulk1 and Tfeb, by recruiting the coactivator CRTC2. After feeding or pharmacological activation, FXR trans-repressed these genes by disrupting the functional CREB–CRTC2 complex. This study identifies the new FXR–CREB axis as a key physiological switch regulating autophagy, resulting in sustained nutrient regulation of autophagy during feeding/fasting cycles.

  • p63+Krt5+ distal airway stem cells are essential for lung regeneration

  • Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis involve the progressive and inexorable destruction of oxygen exchange surfaces and airways, and have emerged as a leading cause of death worldwide. Mitigating therapies, aside from impractical organ transplantation, remain limited and the possibility of regenerative medicine has lacked empirical support. However, it is clinically known that patients who survive sudden, massive loss of lung tissue from necrotizing pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome often recover full pulmonary function within six months. Correspondingly, we recently demonstrated lung regeneration in mice following H1N1 influenza virus infection, and linked distal airway stem cells expressing Trp63 (p63) and keratin 5, called DASCp63/Krt5, to this process. Here we show that pre-existing, intrinsically committed DASCp63/Krt5 undergo a proliferative expansion in response to influenza-induced lung damage, and assemble into nascent alveoli at sites of interstitial lung inflammation. We also show that the selective ablation of DASCp63/Krt5in vivo prevents this regeneration, leading to pre-fibrotic lesions and deficient oxygen exchange. Finally, we demonstrate that single DASCp63/Krt5-derived pedigrees differentiate to type I and type II pneumocytes as well as bronchiolar secretory cells following transplantation to infected lung and also minimize the structural consequences of endogenous stem cell loss on this process. The ability to propagate these cells in culture while maintaining their intrinsic lineage commitment suggests their potential in stem cell-based therapies for acute and chronic lung diseases.

  • Metallization of vanadium dioxide driven by large phonon entropy

  • Phase competition underlies many remarkable and technologically important phenomena in transition metal oxides. Vanadium dioxide (VO2) exhibits a first-order metal–insulator transition (MIT) near room temperature, where conductivity is suppressed and the lattice changes from tetragonal to monoclinic on cooling. Ongoing attempts to explain this coupled structural and electronic transition begin with two alternative starting points: a Peierls MIT driven by instabilities in electron–lattice dynamics and a Mott MIT where strong electron–electron correlations drive charge localization. A key missing piece of the VO2 puzzle is the role of lattice vibrations. Moreover, a comprehensive thermodynamic treatment must integrate both entropic and energetic aspects of the transition. Here we report that the entropy driving the MIT in VO2 is dominated by strongly anharmonic phonons rather than electronic contributions, and provide a direct determination of phonon dispersions. Our ab initio calculations identify softer bonding in the tetragonal phase, relative to the monoclinic phase, as the origin of the large vibrational entropy stabilizing the metallic rutile phase. They further reveal how a balance between higher entropy in the metal and orbital-driven lower energy in the insulator fully describes the thermodynamic forces controlling the MIT. Ourstudy illustrates the critical role of anharmonic lattice dynamics in metal oxide phase competition, and provides guidance for the predictive design of new materials.

  • Resolving the complexity of the human genome using single-molecule sequencing

  • The human genome is arguably the most complete mammalian reference assembly, yet more than 160 euchromatic gaps remain and aspects of its structural variation remain poorly understood ten years after its completion. To identify missing sequence and genetic variation, here we sequence and analyse a haploid human genome (CHM1) using single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing. We close or extend 55% of the remaining interstitial gaps in the human GRCh37 reference genome—78% of which carried long runs of degenerate short tandem repeats, often several kilobases in length, embedded within (G+C)-rich genomic regions. We resolve the complete sequence of 26,079 euchromatic structural variants at the base-pair level, including inversions, complex insertions and long tracts of tandem repeats. Most have not been previously reported, with the greatest increases in sensitivity occurring for events less than 5 kilobases in size. Compared to the human reference, we find a significant insertional bias (3:1) in regions corresponding to complex insertions and long shorttandem repeats. Our results suggest a greater complexity of the human genome in the form of variation of longer and more complex repetitive DNA that can now be largely resolved with the application of this longer-read sequencing technology.

  • Structural insight into autoinhibition and histone H3-induced activation of DNMT3A

  • DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification that is essential for various developmental processes through regulating gene expression, genomic imprinting, and epigenetic inheritance. Mammalian genomic DNA methylation is established during embryogenesis by de novo DNA methyltransferases, DNMT3A and DNMT3B, and the methylation patterns vary with developmental stages and cell types. DNA methyltransferase 3-like protein (DNMT3L) is a catalytically inactive paralogue of DNMT3 enzymes, which stimulates the enzymatic activity of Dnmt3a. Recent studies have established a connection between DNA methylation and histone modifications, and revealed a histone-guided mechanism for the establishment of DNA methylation. The ATRX–DNMT3–DNMT3L (ADD) domain of Dnmt3a recognizes unmethylated histone H3 (H3K4me0). The histone H3 tail stimulates the enzymatic activity of Dnmt3a in vitro, whereas the molecular mechanism remains elusive. Here we show that DNMT3A exists in an autoinhibitory form and that the histone H3 tail stimulates its activity in a DNMT3L-independent manner. We determine the crystal structures of DNMT3A–DNMT3L (autoinhibitory form) and DNMT3A–DNMT3L-H3 (active form) complexes at 3.82 and 2.90 Å resolution, respectively. Structural and biochemical analyses indicate that the ADD domain of DNMT3A interacts with and inhibits enzymatic activity of the catalytic domain (CD) through blocking its DNA-binding affinity. Histone H3 (but not H3K4me3) disrupts ADD–CD interaction, induces a large movement of the ADD domain, and thus releases the autoinhibition of DNMT3A. The finding adds another layer of regulation of DNA methylation to ensure that the enzyme is mainly activated at proper targeting loci when unmethylated H3K4 is present, and strongly supports a negative correlation between H3K4me3 and DNA methylation across the mammalian genome. Our study provides a new insight into an unexpected autoinhibition and histone H3-induced activation of the de novo DNA methyltransferase after its initial genomic positioning.

  • Overcoming the limitations of directed C–H functionalizations of heterocycles

  • In directed C–H activation reactions, any nitrogen or sulphur atoms present in heterocyclic substrates will coordinate strongly with metal catalysts. This coordination, which can lead to catalyst poisoning or C–H functionalization at an undesired position, limits the application of C–H activation reactions in heterocycle-based drug discovery, in which regard they have attracted much interest from pharmaceutical companies. Here we report a robust and synthetically useful method that overcomes the complications associated with performing C–H functionalization reactions on heterocycles. Our approach employs a simple N-methoxy amide group, which serves as both a directing group and an anionic ligand that promotes the in situ generation of the reactive PdX2 (X = ArCONOMe) species from a Pd(0) source using air as the sole oxidant. In this way, the PdX2 species is localized near the target C–H bond, avoiding interference from any nitrogen or sulphur atoms present in the heterocyclic substrates. This reaction overrides the conventional positional selectivity patterns observed with substrates containing strongly coordinating heteroatoms, including nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus. Thus, this operationally simple aerobic reaction demonstrates that it is possible to bypass a fundamental limitation that has long plagued applications of directed C–H activation in medicinal chemistry.

  • Structure and function of a single-chain, multi-domain long-chain acyl-CoA carboxylase

  • Biotin-dependent carboxylases are widely distributed in nature and have important functions in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, carbohydrates, cholesterol and other compounds. Defective mutations in several of these enzymes have been linked to serious metabolic diseases in humans, and acetyl-CoA carboxylase is a target for drug discovery in the treatment of diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Here we report the identification and biochemical, structural and functional characterizations of a novel single-chain (120 kDa), multi-domain biotin-dependent carboxylase in bacteria. It has preference for long-chain acyl-CoA substrates, although it is also active towards short-chain and medium-chain acyl-CoAs, and we have named it long-chain acyl-CoA carboxylase. The holoenzyme is a homo-hexamer with molecular mass of 720 kDa. The 3.0 Å crystal structure of the long-chain acyl-CoA carboxylase holoenzyme from Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis revealed an architecture that is strikingly different from those of related biotin-dependent carboxylases. In addition, the domains of each monomer have no direct contact with each other. They are instead extensively swapped in the holoenzyme, such that one cycle of catalysis involves the participation of four monomers. Functional studies in Pseudomonas aeruginosa suggest that the enzyme is involved in the utilization of selected carbon and nitrogen sources.

  • Biochemistry: Succinate strikes

  • The high levels of tissue-damaging reactive oxygen species that arise during a stroke or heart attack have been shown to be generated through the accumulation of the metabolic intermediate succinate.

  • Mammalian evolution: A beast of the southern wild

  • A newly discovered skull from the Cretaceous period belongs to a mammal that was big, strange and fast-moving. The fossil solves a long-standing mystery, and helps to resolve a controversy about mammalian evolution.

  • First cranial remains of a gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism

  • The gondwanatherians were mammals known only from teeth and some jaw fragments that lived in the southern continents alongside dinosaurs; here the entire cranium of a bizarre and badger-sized fossil mammal from the Cretaceous of Madagascar shows that gondwanatherians were related to the better-known multituberculates, a long-lived and successful group of now-extinct rodent-like mammals.

  • The neural representation of taste quality at the periphery

  • The mammalian taste system is responsible for sensing and responding to the five basic taste qualities: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Previously, we showed that each taste is detected by dedicated taste receptor cells (TRCs) on the tongue and palate epithelium. To understand how TRCs transmit information to higher neural centres, we examined the tuning properties of large ensembles of neurons in the first neural station of the gustatory system. Here, we generated and characterized a collection of transgenic mice expressing a genetically encoded calcium indicator in central and peripheral neurons, and used a gradient refractive index microendoscope combined with high-resolution two-photon microscopy to image taste responses from ganglion neurons buried deep at the base of the brain. Our results reveal fine selectivity in the taste preference of ganglion neurons; demonstrate a strong match between TRCs in the tongue and the principal neural afferents relaying taste information to the brain; and expose the highly specific transfer of taste information between taste cells and the central nervous system.

  • Ischaemic accumulation of succinate controls reperfusion injury through mitochondrial ROS

  • Ischaemia-reperfusion injury occurs when the blood supply to an organ is disrupted and then restored, and underlies many disorders, notably heart attack and stroke. While reperfusion of ischaemic tissue is essential for survival, it also initiates oxidative damage, cell death and aberrant immune responses through the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although mitochondrial ROS production in ischaemia reperfusion is established, it has generally been considered a nonspecific response to reperfusion. Here we develop a comparative in vivo metabolomic analysis, and unexpectedly identify widely conserved metabolic pathways responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during ischaemia reperfusion. We show that selective accumulation of the citric acid cycle intermediate succinate is a universal metabolic signature of ischaemia in a range of tissues and is responsible for mitochondrial ROS production during reperfusion. Ischaemic succinate accumulation arises from reversal of succinate dehydrogenase, which in turn is driven by fumarate overflow from purine nucleotide breakdown and partial reversal of the malate/aspartate shuttle. After reperfusion, the accumulated succinate is rapidly re-oxidized by succinate dehydrogenase, driving extensive ROS generation by reverse electron transport at mitochondrial complex I. Decreasing ischaemic succinate accumulation by pharmacological inhibition is sufficient to ameliorate in vivo ischaemia-reperfusion injury in murine models of heart attack and stroke. Thus, we have identified a conserved metabolic response of tissues to ischaemia and reperfusion that unifies many hitherto unconnected aspects of ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Furthermore, these findings reveal a new pathway for metabolic control of ROS production in vivo, while demonstrating that inhibition of ischaemic succinate accumulation and its oxidation after subsequent reperfusion is a potential therapeutic target to decrease ischaemia-reperfusion injury in a range of pathologies.

  • mTORC1-mediated translational elongation limits intestinal tumour initiation and growth

  • Inactivation of APC is a strongly predisposing event in the development of colorectal cancer, prompting the search for vulnerabilities specific to cells that have lost APC function. Signalling through the mTOR pathway is known to be required for epithelial cell proliferation and tumour growth, and the current paradigm suggests that a critical function of mTOR activity is to upregulate translational initiation through phosphorylation of 4EBP1 (refs 6, 7). This model predicts that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, which does not efficiently inhibit 4EBP1 (ref. 8), would be ineffective in limiting cancer progression in APC-deficient lesions. Here we show in mice that mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) activity is absolutely required for the proliferation of Apc-deficient (but not wild-type) enterocytes, revealing an unexpected opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Although APC-deficient cells show the expected increases in protein synthesis, our study reveals that it is translation elongation, and not initiation, which is the rate-limiting component. Mechanistically, mTORC1-mediated inhibition of eEF2 kinase is required for the proliferation of APC-deficient cells. Importantly, treatment of established APC-deficient adenomas with rapamycin (which can target eEF2 through the mTORC1–S6K–eEF2K axis) causes tumour cells to undergo growth arrest and differentiation. Taken together, our data suggest that inhibition of translation elongation using existing, clinically approved drugs, such as the rapalogs, would provide clear therapeutic benefit for patients at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.

  • A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China

  • The incompleteness of the fossil record obscures the origin of many of the more derived clades of vertebrates. One such group is the Ichthyopterygia, a clade of obligatory marine reptiles that appeared in the Early Triassic epoch, without any known intermediates. Here we describe a basal ichthyosauriform from the upper Lower Triassic (about 248 million years ago) of China, whose primitive skeleton indicates possible amphibious habits. It is smaller than ichthyopterygians and had unusually large flippers that probably allowed limited terrestrial locomotion. It also retained characteristics of terrestrial diapsid reptiles, including a short snout and body trunk. Unlike more-derived ichthyosauriforms, it was probably a suction feeder. The new species supports the sister-group relationships between ichthyosauriforms and Hupehsuchia, the two forming the Ichthyosauromorpha. Basal ichthyosauromorphs are known exclusively from south China, suggesting that the clade originated in the region, which formed a warm and humid tropical archipelago in the Early Triassic. The oldest unequivocal record of a sauropterygian is also from the same stratigraphic unit of the region.

  • A relative shift in cloacal location repositions external genitalia in amniote evolution

  • The move of vertebrates to a terrestrial lifestyle required major adaptations in their locomotory apparatus and reproductive organs. While the fin-to-limb transition has received considerable attention, little is known about the developmental and evolutionary origins of external genitalia. Similarities in gene expression have been interpreted as a potential evolutionary link between the limb and genitals; however, no underlying developmental mechanism has been identified. We re-examined this question using micro-computed tomography, lineage tracing in three amniote clades, and RNA-sequencing-based transcriptional profiling. Here we show that the developmental origin of external genitalia has shifted through evolution, and in some taxa limbs and genitals share a common primordium. In squamates, the genitalia develop directly from the budding hindlimbs, or the remnants thereof, whereas in mice the genital tubercle originates from the ventral and tail bud mesenchyme. The recruitment of different cell populations for genital outgrowth follows a change in the relative position of the cloaca, the genitalia organizing centre. Ectopic grafting of the cloaca demonstrates the conserved ability of different mesenchymal cells to respond to these genitalia-inducing signals. Our results support a limb-like developmental origin of external genitalia as the ancestral condition. Moreover, they suggest that a change in the relative position of the cloacal signalling centre during evolution has led to an altered developmental route for external genitalia in mammals, while preserving parts of the ancestral limb molecular circuitry owing to a common evolutionary origin.

  • Approaching disorder-free transport in high-mobility conjugated polymers

  • Conjugated polymers enable the production of flexible semiconductor devices that can be processed from solution at low temperatures. Over the past 25 years, device performance has improved greatly as a wide variety of molecular structures have been studied. However, one major limitation has not been overcome; transport properties in polymer films are still limited by pervasive conformational and energetic disorder. This not only limits the rational design of materials with higher performance, but also prevents the study of physical phenomena associated with an extended π-electron delocalization along the polymer backbone. Here we report a comparative transport study of several high-mobility conjugated polymers by field-effect-modulated Seebeck, transistor and sub-bandgap optical absorption measurements. We show that in several of these polymers, most notably in a recently reported, indacenodithiophene-based donor–acceptor copolymer with a near-amorphous microstructure, the charge transport properties approach intrinsic disorder-free limits at which all molecular sites are thermally accessible. Molecular dynamics simulations identify the origin of this long sought-after regime as a planar, torsion-free backbone conformation that is surprisingly resilient to side-chain disorder. Our results provide molecular-design guidelines for ‘disorder-free’ conjugated polymers.

  • Developmental biology: Polarize to elongate

  • An analysis of fruit-fly embryos reveals that receptor proteins of the Toll family direct the oriented cell rearrangements required for the elongation of the head-to-tail axis during development.

  • A positional Toll receptor code directs convergent extension in Drosophila

  • Body axis elongation from head to tail is essential for animal development, however, the spatial cues that direct cell rearrangements relative to the anterior–posterior axis were unknown; this Drosophila study of convergent extension reveals that three Toll family receptors, expressed in overlapping stripes, modulate the contractile properties of cells to generate the polarized cell rearrangements that lead to body axis elongation.

  • Subnanometre-resolution electron cryomicroscopy structure of a heterodimeric ABC exporter

  • ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters translocate substrates across cell membranes, using energy harnessed from ATP binding and hydrolysis at their nucleotide-binding domains. ABC exporters are present both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, with examples implicated in multidrug resistance of pathogens and cancer cells, as well as in many human diseases. TmrAB is a heterodimeric ABC exporter from the thermophilic Gram-negative eubacterium Thermus thermophilus; it is homologous to various multidrug transporters and contains one degenerate site with a non-catalytic residue next to the Walker B motif. Here we report a subnanometre-resolution structure of detergent-solubilized TmrAB in a nucleotide-free, inward-facing conformation by single-particle electron cryomicroscopy. The reconstructions clearly resolve characteristic features of ABC transporters, including helices in the transmembrane domain and nucleotide-binding domains. A cavity in the transmembrane domain is accessible laterally from the cytoplasmic side of the membrane as well as from the cytoplasm, indicating that the transporter lies in an inward-facing open conformation. The two nucleotide-binding domains remain in contact via their carboxy-terminal helices. Furthermore, comparison between our structure and the crystal structures of other ABC transporters suggests a possible trajectory of conformational changes that involves a sliding and rotating motion between the two nucleotide-binding domains during the transition from the inward-facing to outward-facing conformations.

  • Structure of the immature HIV-1 capsid in intact virus particles at 8.8 Å resolution

  • Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) assembly proceeds in two stages. First, the 55 kilodalton viral Gag polyprotein assembles into a hexameric protein lattice at the plasma membrane of the infected cell, inducing budding and release of an immature particle. Second, Gag is cleaved by the viral protease, leading to internal rearrangement of the virus into the mature, infectious form. Immature and mature HIV-1 particles are heterogeneous in size and morphology, preventing high-resolution analysis of their protein arrangement in situ by conventional structural biology methods. Here we apply cryo-electron tomography and sub-tomogram averaging methods to resolve the structure of the capsid lattice within intact immature HIV-1 particles at subnanometre resolution, allowing unambiguous positioning of all α-helices. The resulting model reveals tertiary and quaternary structural interactions that mediate HIV-1 assembly. Strikingly, these interactions differ from those predicted by the current model based on in vitro-assembled arrays of Gag-derived proteins from Mason–Pfizer monkey virus. To validate this difference, we solve the structure of the capsid lattice within intact immature Mason–Pfizer monkey virus particles. Comparison with the immature HIV-1 structure reveals that retroviral capsid proteins, while having conserved tertiary structures, adopt different quaternary arrangements during virus assembly. The approach demonstrated here should be applicable to determine structures of other proteins at subnanometre resolution within heterogeneous environments.

  • IgG1 protects against renal disease in a mouse model of cryoglobulinaemia

  • Immunoglobulins protect against disease to a considerable extent by activating complement and stimulatory immunoglobulin crystallizable fragment receptors (Ig FcRs), and aggregating microbial pathogens. Yet IgG1, the predominant murine serum Ig isotype, cannot activate complement by the classical pathway, binds more avidly to an inhibitory than to stimulatory FcRs, and has limited ability to aggregate pathogens. In these regards, it resembles human IgG4 (ref. 4). We hypothesized that limited ability to activate effector mechanisms might protect against immune complex immunopathology. Here we show that IgG1-deficient (γ1−) mice, immunized with a potent antigen, develop lethal renal disease soon after they begin to produce antigen-specific antibody, whereas similarly immunized wild-type mice remain healthy. Surprisingly, renal disease in this model is complement and FcR independent and results from immune complex precipitation in glomerular capillaries, as in some cryoglobulinaemic humans. IgG3, which self-associates to form large immune complexes, accounts for more than 97% of the mouse Ig in this cryoglobulin; furthermore, glomerular disease develops when mice are injected with IgG3 anti-trinitrophenyl(TNP) monoclonal antibody followed by a TNP-labelled protein. Renal disease is prevented in both active and passive immunization models by antigen-specific IgG1; other isotypes are less potent at preventing disease. These observations demonstrate the adaptive significance of Ig isotypes that poorlyactivate effector mechanisms, reveal an immune-complex-dependent, complement- and FcR-independent nephrotoxic mechanism, and suggest that isotypes that poorly activate effector mechanisms may be useful for inhibiting immune complex immunopathology.

  • The mutational landscapes of genetic and chemical models of Kras-driven lung cancer

  • Next-generation sequencing of human tumours has refined our understanding of the mutational processes operative in cancer initiation and progression, yet major questions remain regarding the factors that induce driver mutations and the processes that shape mutation selection during tumorigenesis. Here we performed whole-exome sequencing on adenomas from three mouse models of non-small-cell lung cancer, which were induced either by exposure to carcinogens (methyl-nitrosourea (MNU) and urethane) or by genetic activation of Kras (KrasLA2). Although the MNU-induced tumours carried exactly the same initiating mutation in Kras as seen in the KrasLA2 model (G12D), MNU tumours had an average of 192 non-synonymous, somatic single-nucleotide variants, compared with only six in tumours from the KrasLA2 model. By contrast, the KrasLA2 tumours exhibited a significantly higher level of aneuploidy and copy number alterations compared with the carcinogen-induced tumours, suggesting that carcinogen-induced and genetically engineered models lead to tumour development through different routes. The wild-type allele of Kras has been shown to act as a tumour suppressor in mouse models of non-small-cell lung cancer. We demonstrate that urethane-induced tumours from wild-type mice carry mostly (94%) Kras Q61R mutations, whereas those from Kras heterozygous animals carry mostly (92%) Kras Q61L mutations, indicating a major role for germline Kras status in mutation selection during initiation. The exome-wide mutation spectra in carcinogen-induced tumours overwhelmingly display signatures of the initiating carcinogen, while adenocarcinomas acquire additional C ggt; T mutations at CpG sites. These data provide a basis for understanding results from human tumour genome sequencing, which has identified two broad categories of tumours based on the relative frequency of single-nucleotide variations and copy number alterations, and underline the importance of carcinogen models for understanding the complex mutation spectra seen in human cancers.

  • Plant science: Leaf veins share the time of day

  • Techniques for isolating and analysing leaf cell types have now been developed, leading to the discovery that circadian clocks in the plant vasculature communicate with and regulate clocks in neighbouring cells.

  • Origins of life: RNA made in its own mirror image

  • An RNA enzyme has been generated that can assemble a mirror-image version of itself. The finding helps to answer a long-standing conundrum about how RNA molecules could have proliferated on prebiotic Earth.

  • Genetic and epigenetic fine mapping of causal autoimmune disease variants

  • Genome-wide association studies combined with data from epigenomic maps for immune cells have been used to fine-map causal variants for 21 autoimmune diseases; disease risk tends to be linked to single nucleotide polymorphisms in cell-type-specific enhancers, often in regions adjacent to transcription factor binding motifs.

  • Promoterless gene targeting without nucleases ameliorates haemophilia B in mice

  • Site-specific gene addition can allow stable transgene expression for gene therapy. When possible, this is preferred over the use of promiscuously integrating vectors, which are sometimes associated with clonal expansion and oncogenesis. Site-specific endonucleases that can induce high rates of targeted genome editing are finding increasing applications in biological discovery and gene therapy. However, two safety concerns persist: endonuclease-associated adverse effects, both on-target and off-target; and oncogene activation caused by promoter integration, even without nucleases. Here we perform recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-mediated promoterless gene targeting without nucleases and demonstrate amelioration of the bleeding diathesis in haemophilia B mice. In particular, we target a promoterless human coagulation factor IX (F9) gene to the liver-expressed mouse albumin (Alb) locus. F9 is targeted, along with a preceding 2A-peptide coding sequence, to be integrated just upstream to the Alb stop codon. While F9 is fused to Alb at the DNA and RNA levels, two separate proteins are synthesized by way of ribosomal skipping. Thus, F9 expression is linked to robust hepatic albumin expression without disrupting it. We injected an AAV8-F9 vector into neonatal and adult mice and achieved on-target integration into∼0.5% of the albumin alleles in hepatocytes. We established that F9 was produced only from on-target integration, and ribosomal skipping was highly efficient. Stable F9 plasma levels at 7–20% of normal were obtained, and treated F9-deficient mice had normal coagulation times. In conclusion, transgene integration as a 2A-fusion to a highly expressed endogenous gene may obviate the requirement for nucleases and/or vector-borne promoters. This method may allow for safe and efficacious gene targeting in both infants and adults by greatly diminishing off-target effects while still providing therapeutic levels of expression from integration.

  • Tissue-specific clocks in Arabidopsis show asymmetric coupling

  • Many organisms rely on a circadian clock system to adapt to daily and seasonal environmental changes. The mammalian circadian clock consists of a central clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus that has tightly coupled neurons and synchronizes other clocks in peripheral tissues. Plants also have a circadian clock, but plant circadian clock function has long been assumed to be uncoupled. Only a few studies have been able to show weak, local coupling among cells. Here, by implementing two novel techniques, we have performed a comprehensive tissue-specific analysis of leaf tissues, and show that the vasculature and mesophyll clocks asymmetrically regulate each other in Arabidopsis. The circadian clock in the vasculature has characteristics distinct from other tissues, cycles robustly without environmental cues, and affects circadian clock regulation in other tissues. Furthermore, we found that vasculature-enriched genes that are rhythmically expressed are preferentially expressed in the evening, whereas rhythmic mesophyll-enriched genes tend to be expressed in the morning. Our results set the stage for a deeper understanding of how the vasculature circadian clock in plants regulates key physiological responses such as flowering time.

  • Modelling human development and disease in pluripotent stem-cell-derived gastric organoids

  • Gastric diseases, including peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer, affect 10% of the world’s population and are largely due to chronic Helicobacter pylori infection. Species differences in embryonic development and architecture of the adult stomach make animal models suboptimal for studying human stomach organogenesis and pathogenesis, and there is no experimental model of normal human gastric mucosa. Here we report the de novo generation of three-dimensional human gastric tissue in vitro through the directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. We show that temporal manipulation of the FGF, WNT, BMP, retinoic acid and EGF signalling pathways and three-dimensional growth are sufficient to generate human gastric organoids (hGOs). Developing hGOs progressed through molecular and morphogenetic stages that were nearly identical to the developing antrum of the mouse stomach. Organoids formed primitive gastric gland- and pit-like domains, proliferative zones containing LGR5-expressing cells, surface and antral mucous cells, and a diversity of gastric endocrine cells. We used hGO cultures to identify novel signalling mechanisms that regulate early endoderm patterning and gastric endocrine cell differentiation upstream of the transcription factor NEUROG3. Using hGOs to model pathogenesis of human disease, we found that H. pylori infection resulted in rapid association of the virulence factor CagA with the c-Met receptor, activation of signalling and induction of epithelial proliferation. Together, these studies describe a new and robust in vitro system for elucidating the mechanisms underlying human stomach development and disease.

  • A cross-chiral RNA polymerase ribozyme

  • Thirty years ago it was shown that the non-enzymatic, template-directed polymerization of activated mononucleotides proceeds readily in a homochiral system, but is severely inhibited by the presence of the opposing enantiomer. This finding poses a severe challenge for the spontaneous emergence of RNA-based life, and has led to the suggestion that either RNA was preceded by some other genetic polymer that is not subject to chiral inhibition or chiral symmetry was broken through chemical processes before the origin of RNA-based life. Once an RNA enzyme arose that could catalyse the polymerization of RNA, it would have been possible to distinguish among the two enantiomers, enabling RNA replication and RNA-based evolution to occur. It is commonly thought that the earliest RNA polymerase and its substrates would have been of the same handedness, but this is not necessarily the case. Replicating d- and l-RNA molecules may have emerged together, based on the ability of structured RNAs of one handedness to catalyse the templated polymerization of activated mononucleotides of the opposite handedness. Here we develop such a cross-chiral RNA polymerase, using in vitro evolution starting from a population of random-sequence RNAs. The d-RNA enzyme, consisting of 83 nucleotides, catalyses the joining of l-mono- or oligonucleotide substrates on a complementary l-RNA template, and similar behaviour occurs for the l-enzyme with d-substrates and a d-template. Chiral inhibition is avoided because the 106-fold rate acceleration of the enzyme only pertains to cross-chiral substrates. The enzyme’s activity is sufficient to generate full-length copies of its enantiomer through the templated joining of 11 component oligonucleotides.

  • CEACAM1 regulates TIM-3-mediated tolerance and exhaustion

  • T-cell immunoglobulin domain and mucin domain-3 (TIM-3, also known as HAVCR2) is an activation-induced inhibitory molecule involved in tolerance and shown to induce T-cell exhaustion in chronic viral infection and cancers. Under some conditions, TIM-3 expression has also been shown to be stimulatory. Considering that TIM-3, like cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed death 1 (PD-1), is being targeted for cancer immunotherapy, it is important to identify the circumstances under which TIM-3 can inhibit and activate T-cell responses. Here we show that TIM-3 is co-expressed and forms a heterodimer with carcinoembryonic antigen cell adhesion molecule 1 (CEACAM1), another well-known molecule expressed on activated T cells and involved in T-cell inhibition. Biochemical, biophysical and X-ray crystallography studies show that the membrane-distal immunoglobulin-variable (IgV)-like amino-terminal domain of each is crucial to these interactions. The presence of CEACAM1 endows TIM-3 with inhibitory function. CEACAM1 facilitates the maturation and cell surface expression of TIM-3 by forming a heterodimeric interaction in cis through the highly related membrane-distal N-terminal domains of each molecule. CEACAM1 and TIM-3 also bind in trans through their N-terminal domains. Both cis and trans interactions between CEACAM1 and TIM-3 determine the tolerance-inducing function of TIM-3. In a mouse adoptive transfer colitis model, CEACAM1-deficient T cells are hyper-inflammatory with reduced cell surface expression of TIM-3 and regulatory cytokines, and this is restored by T-cell-specific CEACAM1 expression. During chronic viral infection and in a tumour environment, CEACAM1 and TIM-3 mark exhausted T cells. Co-blockade of CEACAM1 and TIM-3 leads to enhancement of anti-tumour immune responses with improved elimination of tumours in mouse colorectal cancer models. Thus, CEACAM1 serves as a heterophilic ligand for TIM-3 that is required for its ability to mediate T-cell inhibition, and this interaction has a crucial role in regulating autoimmunity and anti-tumour immunity.

  • Structure and mechanism of the tRNA-dependent lantibiotic dehydratase NisB

  • Lantibiotics are a class of peptide antibiotics that contain one or more thioether bonds. The lantibiotic nisin is an antimicrobial peptide that is widely used as a food preservative to combat food-borne pathogens. Nisin contains dehydroalanine and dehydrobutyrine residues that are formed by the dehydration of Ser/Thr by the lantibiotic dehydratase NisB (ref. 2). Recent biochemical studies revealed that NisB glutamylates Ser/Thr side chains as part of the dehydration process. However, the molecular mechanism by which NisB uses glutamate to catalyse dehydration remains unresolved. Here we show that this process involves glutamyl-tRNAGlu to activate Ser/Thr residues. In addition, the 2.9-Å crystal structure of NisB in complex with its substrate peptide NisA reveals the presence of two separate domains that catalyse the Ser/Thr glutamylation and glutamate elimination steps. The co-crystal structure also provides insights into substrate recognition by lantibiotic dehydratases. Our findings demonstrate an unexpected role for aminoacyl-tRNA in the formation of dehydroamino acids in lantibiotics, and serve as a basis for the functional characterization of the many lantibiotic-like dehydratases involved in the biosynthesis of other classes of natural products.

  • Long-term phenotypic evolution of bacteria

  • For many decades comparative analyses of protein sequences and structures have been used to investigate fundamental principles of molecular evolution. In contrast, relatively little is known about the long-term evolution of species’ phenotypic and genetic properties. This represents an important gap in our understanding of evolution, as exactly these proprieties play key roles in natural selection and adaptation to diverse environments. Here we perform a comparative analysis of bacterial growth and gene deletion phenotypesusing hundreds of genome-scale metabolic models. Overall, bacterial phenotypic evolution can be described by a two-stage process with a rapid initial phenotypic diversification followed by a slow long-term exponential divergence. The observed average divergence trend, with approximately similar fractions of phenotypic properties changing per unit time, continues for billions of years. We experimentally confirm the predicted divergence trend using the phenotypic profiles of 40 diverse bacterial species across more than 60 growth conditions. Our analysis suggests that, at long evolutionary distances, gene essentiality is significantly more conserved than the ability to utilize different nutrients, while synthetic lethality is significantly less conserved. We also find that although a rapid phenotypic evolution is sometimes observed within the same species, a transition from high to low phenotypic similarity occurs primarily at the genus level.

  • Calcium transient prevalence across the dendritic arbour predicts place field properties

  • Establishing the hippocampal cellular ensemble that represents an animal’s environment involves the emergence and disappearance of place fields in specific CA1 pyramidal neurons, and the acquisition of different spatial firing properties across the active population. While such firing flexibility and diversity have been linked to spatial memory, attention and task performance, the cellular and network origin of these place cell features is unknown. Basic integrate-and-fire models of place firing propose that such features result solely from varying inputs to place cells, but recent studies suggest instead that place cells themselves may play an active role through regenerative dendritic events. However, owing to the difficulty of performing functional recordings from place cell dendrites, no direct evidence of regenerative dendritic events exists, leaving any possible connection to place coding unknown. Using multi-plane two-photon calcium imaging of CA1 place cell somata, axons and dendrites in mice navigating a virtual environment, here we show that regenerative dendritic events do exist in place cells of behaving mice, and, surprisingly, their prevalence throughout the arbour is highly spatiotemporally variable. Furthermore, we show that the prevalence of such events predicts the spatial precision and persistence or disappearance of place fields. This suggests that the dynamics of spiking throughout the dendritic arbour may play a key role in forming the hippocampal representation of space.

  • Control of plant stem cell function by conserved interacting transcriptional regulators

  • Plant stem cells in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) and root apical meristem are necessary for postembryonic development of aboveground tissues and roots, respectively, while secondary vascular stem cells sustain vascular development. WUSCHEL (WUS), a homeodomain transcription factor expressed in the rib meristem of the Arabidopsis SAM, is a key regulatory factor controlling SAM stem cell populations, and is thought to establish the shoot stem cell niche through a feedback circuit involving the CLAVATA3 (CLV3) peptide signalling pathway. WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX 5 (WOX5), which is specifically expressed in the root quiescent centre, defines quiescent centre identity and functions interchangeably with WUS in the control of shoot and root stem cell niches. WOX4, expressed in Arabidopsis procambial cells, defines the vascular stem cell niche. WUS/WOX family proteins are evolutionarily and functionally conserved throughout the plant kingdom and emerge as key actors in the specification and maintenance of stem cells within all meristems. However, the nature of the genetic regime in stem cell niches that centre on WOX gene function has been elusive, and molecular links underlying conserved WUS/WOX function in stem cell niches remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that the Arabidopsis HAIRY MERISTEM (HAM) family of transcription regulators act as conserved interacting cofactors with WUS/WOX proteins. HAM and WUS share common targets in vivo and their physical interaction is important in driving downstream transcriptional programs and in promoting shoot stem cell proliferation. Differences in the overlapping expression patterns of WOX and HAM family members underlie the formation of diverse stem cell niche locations, and the HAM family is essential for all of these stem cell niches. These findings establish a new framework for the control of stem cell production during plant development.

  • Structure and insights into the function of a Ca2+-activated Cl− channel

  • The X-ray crystal structure of a eukaryotic Ca2+-activated chloride channel, BEST1, and its function in liposomes are described; the structure shows that Ca2+ binds to the cytosolic region of this pentameric channel and reveals that the pore is approximately 95 Å long with at least 15 distinct anion-binding sites.

  • Precision microbiome reconstitution restores bile acid mediated resistance to Clostridium difficile

  • The gastrointestinal tracts of mammals are colonized by hundreds of microbial species that contribute to health, including colonization resistance against intestinal pathogens. Many antibiotics destroy intestinal microbial communities and increase susceptibility to intestinal pathogens. Among these, Clostridium difficile, a major cause of antibiotic-induced diarrhoea, greatly increases morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. Which intestinal bacteria provide resistance to C. difficile infection and their in vivo inhibitory mechanisms remain unclear. Here we correlate loss of specific bacterial taxa with development of infection, by treating mice with different antibiotics that result in distinct microbiota changes and lead to varied susceptibility to C. difficile. Mathematical modelling augmented by analyses of the microbiota of hospitalized patients identifies resistance-associated bacteria common to mice and humans. Using these platforms, we determine that Clostridium scindens, a bile acid 7α-dehydroxylating intestinal bacterium, is associated with resistance to C. difficile infection and, upon administration, enhances resistance to infection in a secondary bile acid dependent fashion. Using a workflow involving mouse models, clinical studies, metagenomic analyses, and mathematical modelling, we identify a probiotic candidate that corrects a clinically relevant microbiome deficiency. These findings have implications for the rational design of targeted antimicrobials as well as microbiome-based diagnostics and therapeutics for individuals at risk of C. difficile infection.

  • In vivo engineering of oncogenic chromosomal rearrangements with the CRISPR/Cas9 system

  • Chromosomal rearrangements have a central role in the pathogenesis of human cancers and often result in the expression of therapeutically actionable gene fusions. A recently discovered example is a fusion between the genes echinoderm microtubule-associated protein like 4 (EML4) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), generated by an inversion on the short arm of chromosome 2: inv(2)(p21p23). The EML4–ALK oncogene is detected in a subset of human non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and is clinically relevant because it confers sensitivity to ALK inhibitors. Despite their importance, modelling such genetic events in mice has proven challenging and requires complex manipulation of the germ line. Here we describe an efficient method to induce specific chromosomal rearrangements in vivo using viral-mediated delivery of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to somatic cells of adult animals. We apply it to generate a mouse model of Eml4–Alk-driven lung cancer. The resulting tumours invariably harbour theEml4–Alk inversion, express the Eml4–Alk fusion gene, display histopathological and molecular features typical of ALK+ human NSCLCs, and respond to treatment with ALK inhibitors. The general strategy described here substantially expands our ability to model human cancers in mice and potentiallyin other organisms.

  • Productivity limits and potentials of the principles of conservation agriculture

  • One of the primary challenges of our time is to feed a growing and more demanding world population with reduced external inputs and minimal environmental impacts, all under more variable and extreme climate conditions in the future. Conservation agriculture represents a set of three crop management principles that has received strong international support to help address this challenge, with recent conservation agriculture efforts focusing on smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. However, conservation agriculture is highly debated, with respect to both its effects on crop yields and its applicability in different farming contexts. Here we conduct a global meta-analysis using 5,463 paired yield observations from 610 studies to compare no-till, the original and central concept of conservation agriculture, with conventional tillage practices across 48 crops and 63 countries. Overall, our results show that no-till reduces yields, yet this response is variable and under certain conditions no-till can produce equivalent or greater yields than conventional tillage. Importantly, when no-till is combined with the other two conservation agriculture principles of residue retention and crop rotation, its negative impacts are minimized. Moreover, no-till in combination with the other two principles significantly increases rainfed crop productivity in dry climates, suggesting that it may become an important climate-change adaptation strategy for ever-drier regions of the world. However, any expansion of conservation agriculture should be done with caution in these areas, as implementation of the other two principles is often challenging in resource-poor and vulnerable smallholder farming systems, thereby increasing the likelihood of yield losses rather than gains. Although farming systems are multifunctional, and environmental and socio-economic factors need to be considered, our analysis indicates that the potential contribution of no-till to the sustainable intensification of agriculture is more limited than often assumed.

  • Rapid modelling of cooperating genetic events in cancer through somatic genome editing

  • Cancer is a multistep process that involves mutations and other alterations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes. Genome sequencing studies have identified a large collection of genetic alterations that occur in human cancers. However, the determination of which mutations are causally related to tumorigenesis remains a major challenge. Here we describe a novel CRISPR/Cas9-based approach for rapid functional investigation of candidate genes in well-established autochthonous mouse models of cancer. Using a KrasG12D-driven lung cancer model, we performed functional characterization of a panel of tumour suppressor genes with known loss-of-function alterations in human lung cancer. Cre-dependent somatic activation of oncogenic KrasG12D combined with CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing of tumour suppressor genes resulted in lung adenocarcinomas with distinct histopathological and molecular features. This rapid somatic genome engineering approach enables functional characterization of putative cancer genes in the lung and other tissues using autochthonous mouse models. We anticipate that this approach can be used to systematically dissect the complex catalogue of mutations identified in cancer genome sequencing studies.

  • Allosteric activation of the RNF146 ubiquitin ligase by a poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation signal

  • Protein poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation (PARylation) has a role in diverse cellular processes such as DNA repair, transcription, Wnt signalling, and cell death. Recent studies have shown that PARylation can serve as a signal for the polyubiquitination and degradation of several crucial regulatory proteins, including Axin and 3BP2 (refs 7, 8, 9). The RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF146 (also known as Iduna) is responsible for PARylation-dependent ubiquitination (PARdU). Here we provide a structural basis for RNF146-catalysed PARdU and how PARdU specificity is achieved. First, we show that iso-ADP-ribose (iso-ADPr), the smallest internal poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) structural unit, binds between the WWE and RING domains of RNF146 and functions as an allosteric signal that switches the RING domain from a catalytically inactive state to an active one. In the absence of PAR, the RING domain is unable to bind and activate a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (E2) efficiently. Binding of PAR or iso-ADPr induces a major conformational change that creates a functional RING structure. Thus, RNF146 represents a new mechanistic class of RING E3 ligases, the activities of which are regulated by non-covalent ligand binding, and that may provide a template for designing inducible protein-degradation systems. Second, we find that RNF146 directly interacts with the PAR polymerase tankyrase (TNKS). Disruption of the RNF146–TNKS interaction inhibits turnover of the substrate Axin in cells. Thus, both substrate PARylation and PARdU are catalysed by enzymes within the same protein complex, and PARdU substrate specificity may be primarily determined by the substrate–TNKS interaction. We propose that the maintenance of unliganded RNF146 in an inactive state may serve to maintain the stability of the RNF146–TNKS complex, which in turn regulates the homeostasis of PARdU activity in the cell.

  • Copulation in antiarch placoderms and the origin of gnathostome internal fertilization

  • Reproduction in jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) involves either external or internal fertilization. It is commonly argued that internal fertilization can evolve from external, but not the reverse. Male copulatory claspers are present in certain placoderms, fossil jawed vertebrates retrieved as a paraphyletic segment of the gnathostome stem group in recent studies. This suggests that internal fertilization could be primitive for gnathostomes, but such a conclusion depends on demonstrating that copulation was not just a specialized feature of certain placoderm subgroups. The reproductive biology of antiarchs, consistently identified as the least crownward placoderms and thus of great interest in this context, has until now remained unknown. Here we show that certain antiarchs possessed dermal claspers in the males, while females bore paired dermal plates inferred to have facilitated copulation. These structures are not associated with pelvic fins. The clasper morphology resembles that of ptyctodonts, a more crownward placoderm group, suggesting that all placoderm claspers are homologous and that internal fertilization characterized all placoderms. This implies that external fertilization and spawning, which characterize most extant aquatic gnathostomes, must be derived from internal fertilization, even though this transformation has been thought implausible. Alternatively, the substantial morphological evidence for placoderm paraphyly must be rejected.

  • Reductive dehalogenase structure suggests a mechanism for B12-dependent dehalogenation

  • Organohalide chemistry underpins many industrial and agricultural processes, and a large proportion of environmental pollutants are organohalides. Nevertheless, organohalide chemistry is not exclusively of anthropogenic origin, with natural abiotic and biological processes contributing to the global halide cycle. Reductive dehalogenases are responsible for biological dehalogenation in organohalide respiring bacteria, with substrates including polychlorinated biphenyls or dioxins. Reductive dehalogenases form a distinct subfamily of cobalamin (B12)-dependent enzymes that are usually membrane associated and oxygen sensitive, hindering detailed studies. Here we report the characterization of a soluble, oxygen-tolerant reductive dehalogenase and, by combining structure determination with EPR (electron paramagnetic resonance) spectroscopy and simulation, show that a direct interaction between the cobalamin cobalt and the substrate halogen underpins catalysis. In contrast to the carbon–cobalt bond chemistry catalysed by the other cobalamin-dependent subfamilies, we propose that reductive dehalogenases achieve reduction of the organohalide substrate via halogen–cobalt bond formation. This presents a new model in both organohalide and cobalamin (bio)chemistry that will guide future exploitation of these enzymes in bioremediation or biocatalysis.

  • Hepatitis A virus and the origins of picornaviruses

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV) remains enigmatic, despite 1.4 million cases worldwide annually. It differs radically from other picornaviruses, existing in an enveloped form and being unusually stable, both genetically and physically, but has proved difficult to study. Here we report high-resolution X-ray structures for the mature virus and the empty particle. The structures of the two particles are indistinguishable, apart from some disorder on the inside of the empty particle. The full virus contains the small viral protein VP4, whereas the empty particle harbours only the uncleaved precursor, VP0. The smooth particle surface is devoid of depressions that might correspond to receptor-binding sites. Peptide scanning data extend the previously reported VP3 antigenic site, while structure-based predictions suggest further epitopes. HAV contains no pocket factor and can withstand remarkably high temperature and low pH, and empty particles are even more robust than full particles. The virus probably uncoats via a novel mechanism, being assembled differently to other picornaviruses. It utilizes a VP2‘domain swap’ characteristic of insect picorna-like viruses, and structure-based phylogenetic analysis places HAV between typical picornaviruses and the insect viruses. The enigmatic properties of HAV may reflect its position as a link between ‘modern’ picornaviruses and the more ‘primitive’ precursor insect viruses; for instance, HAV retains the ability to move from cell-to-cell by transcytosis.

  • Identification of multipotent mammary stem cells by protein C receptor expression

  • The mammary gland is composed of multiple types of epithelial cells, which are generated by mammary stem cells (MaSCs) residing at the top of the hierarchy. However, the existence of these multipotent MaSCs remains controversial and the nature of such cells is unknown. Here we demonstrate that protein C receptor (Procr), a novel Wnt target in the mammary gland, marks a unique population of multipotent mouse MaSCs. Procr-positive cells localize to the basal layer, exhibit epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition characteristics, and express low levels of basal keratins. Procr-expressing cells have a high regenerative capacity in transplantation assays and differentiate into all lineages of the mammary epithelium by lineage tracing. These results define a novel multipotent mammary stem cell population that could be important in the initiation of breast cancer.

  • Adenosine activates brown adipose tissue and recruits beige adipocytes via A2A receptors

  • Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is specialized in energy expenditure, making it a potential target for anti-obesity therapies. Following exposure to cold, BAT is activated by the sympathetic nervous system with concomitant release of catecholamines and activation ofβ-adrenergic receptors. Because BAT therapies based on cold exposure or β-adrenergic agonists are clinically not feasible, alternative strategies must be explored. Purinergic co-transmission might be involved in sympathetic control of BAT and previous studies reported inhibitory effects of the purinergic transmitter adenosine in BAT from hamster or rat. However, the role of adenosine in human BAT is unknown. Here we show that adenosine activates human and murine brown adipocytes at low nanomolar concentrations. Adenosine is released in BAT during stimulation of sympathetic nerves as well asfrom brown adipocytes. The adenosine A2A receptor is the most abundant adenosine receptor in human and murine BAT. Pharmacological blockade or genetic loss of A2A receptors in mice causes a decrease in BAT-dependent thermogenesis, whereas treatment with A2A agonists significantly increases energy expenditure. Moreover, pharmacological stimulation of A2A receptors or injection of lentiviral vectors expressing the A2A receptor into white fat induces brown-like cells—so-called beige adipocytes. Importantly, mice fed a high-fat diet and treated with an A2A agonist are leaner with improved glucose tolerance. Taken together, our results demonstrate that adenosine–A2A signalling plays an unexpected physiological role in sympathetic BAT activation and protects mice from diet-induced obesity. Those findings reveal new possibilities for developing novel obesity therapies.

  • T–B-cell entanglement and ICOSL-driven feed-forward regulation of germinal centre reaction

  • The germinal centre (GC) reaction supports affinity-based B-cell competition and generates high-affinity bone-marrow plasma cells (BMPCs). How follicular T-helper (TFH) cells regulate GC selection is not clear. Using competitive mixed chimaera, we show here that, beyond the role in promoting TFH development, ICOSL (inducible T-cell co-stimulator ligand, also known as ICOSLG) is important for individual B cells to competitively participate in the GC reaction and to develop into BMPCs. Using intravital imaging aided by a calcium reporter, we further show that ICOSL promotes an‘entangled’ mode of TFH–B-cell interactions, characterized by brief but extensive surface engagement, productive T-cell calcium spikes, and B-cell acquisition of CD40 signals. Reiterated entanglement promotes outer-zone co-localization of outcompeting GC B cells together with TFH cells, affording the former increased access to T-cell help. ICOSL on GC B cells is upregulated by CD40 signals. Such an intercellular positive feedback between contact-dependent help and ICOSL-controlled entanglement promotes positive selection and BMPC development, as evidenced by observations that higher-affinity B-cell receptor variants are enriched in the ICOSLhigh fraction, that numerically disadvantaged ICOSL-deficient GC B cells or BMPCs exhibit strong affinity compensation in competitive chimaera, and that when GC competition proceeds without ICOSL, selection of high-affinity variants in otherwise normal GC reactions is impaired. By demonstrating entanglement as the basic form of GC TFH–B-cell interactions, identifying ICOSL as a molecular linkage between T–B interactional dynamics and positive selection for high-affinity BMPC formation, our study reveals a pathway by which TFH cells control the quality of long-lived humoral immunity.

  • Origins of major archaeal clades correspond to gene acquisitions from bacteria

  • The mechanisms that underlie the origin of major prokaryotic groups are poorly understood. In principle, the origin of both species and higher taxa among prokaryotes should entail similar mechanisms—ecological interactions with the environment paired with natural genetic variation involving lineage-specific gene innovations and lineage-specific gene acquisitions. To investigate the origin of higher taxa in archaea, we have determined gene distributions and gene phylogenies for the 267,568 protein-coding genes of 134 sequenced archaeal genomes in the context of their homologues from 1,847 reference bacterial genomes. Archaeal-specific gene families define 13 traditionally recognized archaeal higher taxa in our sample. Here we report that the origins of these 13 groups unexpectedly correspond to 2,264 group-specific gene acquisitions from bacteria. Interdomain gene transfer is highly asymmetric, transfers from bacteria to archaea are more than fivefold more frequent than vice versa. Gene transfers identified at major evolutionary transitions among prokaryotes specifically implicate gene acquisitions for metabolic functions from bacteria as key innovations in the origin of higher archaeal taxa.

  • Primate-specific endogenous retrovirus-driven transcription defines naive-like stem cells

  • Naive embryonic stem cells hold great promise for research and therapeutics as they have broad and robust developmental potential. While such cells are readily derived from mouse blastocysts it has not been possible to isolate human equivalents easily, although human naive-like cells have been artificially generated (rather than extracted) by coercion of human primed embryonic stem cells by modifying culture conditions or through transgenic modification. Here we show that a sub-population within cultures of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) manifests key properties of naive state cells. These naive-like cells can be genetically tagged, and are associated with elevated transcription of HERVH, a primate-specific endogenous retrovirus. HERVH elements provide functional binding sites for a combination of naive pluripotency transcription factors, including LBP9, recently recognized as relevant to naivety in mice. LBP9–HERVH drives hESC-specific alternative and chimaeric transcripts, including pluripotency-modulating long non-coding RNAs. Disruption of LBP9, HERVH and HERVH-derived transcripts compromises self-renewal. These observations define HERVH expression as a hallmark of naive-like hESCs, and establish novel primate-specific transcriptional circuitry regulating pluripotency.

  • Centriole amplification by mother and daughter centrioles differs in multiciliated cells

  • The semi-conservative centrosome duplication in cycling cells gives rise to a centrosome composed of a mother and a newly formed daughter centriole. Both centrioles are regarded as equivalent in their ability to form new centrioles and their symmetric duplication is crucial for cell division homeostasis. Multiciliated cells do not use the archetypal duplication program and instead form more than a hundred centrioles that are required for the growth of motile cilia and the efficient propelling of physiological fluids. The majority of these new centrioles are thought to appear de novo, that is, independently from the centrosome, around electron-dense structures called deuterosomes. Their origin remains unknown. Using live imaging combined with correlative super-resolution light and electron microscopy, we show that all new centrioles derive from the pre-existing progenitor cell centrosome through multiple rounds of procentriole seeding. Moreover, we establish that only the daughter centrosomal centriole contributes to deuterosome formation, and thus to over ninety per cent of the final centriole population. This unexpected centriolar asymmetry grants new perspectives when studying cilia-related diseases and pathological centriole amplification observed in cycling cells and associated with microcephaly and cancer.

  • Structure of an integral membrane sterol reductase from Methylomicrobium alcaliphilum

  • Sterols are essential biological molecules in the majority of life forms. Sterol reductases includingΔ14-sterol reductase (C14SR, also known as TM7SF2), 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7) and 24-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR24) reduce specific carbon–carbon double bonds of the sterol moiety using a reducing cofactor during sterol biosynthesis. Lamin B receptor (LBR), an integral inner nuclear membrane protein, also contains a functional C14SR domain. Here we report the crystal structure of a Δ14-sterol reductase (MaSR1) from the methanotrophic bacterium Methylomicrobium alcaliphilum 20Z (a homologue of human C14SR, LBR and DHCR7) with the cofactor NADPH. The enzyme contains ten transmembrane segments (TM1–10). Its catalytic domain comprises the carboxy-terminal half (containing TM6–10) and envelops two interconnected pockets, one of which faces the cytoplasm and houses NADPH, while the other one is accessible from the lipid bilayer. Comparison with a soluble steroid 5β-reductase structure suggests that the reducing end of NADPH meets the sterol substrate at the juncture of the two pockets. A sterol reductase activity assay proves that MaSR1 can reduce the double bond of a cholesterol biosynthetic intermediate, demonstrating functional conservation to human C14SR. Therefore, our structure as a prototype of integral membrane sterol reductases provides molecular insight into mutations in DHCR7 and LBR for inborn human diseases.

  • Cohesin-dependent globules and heterochromatin shape 3D genome architecture in S. pombe

  • Eukaryotic genomes are folded into three-dimensional structures, such as self-associating topological domains, the borders of which are enriched in cohesin and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) required for long-range interactions. How local chromatin interactions govern higher-order folding of chromatin fibres and the function of cohesin in this process remain poorly understood. Here we perform genome-wide chromatin conformation capture (Hi-C) analysis to explore the high-resolution organization of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe genome, which despite its small size exhibits fundamental features found in other eukaryotes. Our analyses of wild-type and mutant strains reveal key elements of chromosome architecture and genome organization. On chromosome arms, small regions of chromatin locally interact to form‘globules’. This feature requires a function of cohesin distinct from its role in sister chromatid cohesion. Cohesin is enriched at globule boundaries and its loss causes disruption of local globule structures and global chromosome territories. By contrast, heterochromatin, which loads cohesin at specific sites including pericentromeric and subtelomeric domains, is dispensable for globule formation but nevertheless affects genome organization. We show that heterochromatin mediates chromatin fibre compaction at centromeres and promotes prominent inter-arm interactions within centromere-proximal regions, providing structural constraints crucial for proper genome organization. Loss of heterochromatin relaxes constraints on chromosomes, causing an increase in intra- and inter-chromosomal interactions. Together, our analyses uncover fundamental genome folding principles that drive higher-order chromosome organization crucial for coordinating nuclear functions.

  • Human intracellular ISG15 prevents interferon-α/β over-amplification and auto-inflammation

  • Intracellular ISG15 is an interferon (IFN)-α/β-inducible ubiquitin-like modifier which can covalently bind other proteins in a process called ISGylation; it is an effector of IFN-α/β-dependent antiviral immunity in mice. We previously published a study describing humans with inherited ISG15 deficiency but without unusually severe viraldiseases. We showed that these patients were prone to mycobacterial disease and that human ISG15 was non-redundant as an extracellular IFN-γ-inducing molecule. We show here that ISG15-deficient patients also display unanticipated cellular, immunological and clinical signs of enhanced IFN-α/β immunity, reminiscent of the Mendelian autoinflammatory interferonopathies Aicardi–Goutières syndrome and spondyloenchondrodysplasia. We further show that an absence of intracellular ISG15 in the patients’ cells prevents the accumulation of USP18, a potent negative regulator of IFN-α/β signalling, resulting in the enhancement and amplification of IFN-α/β responses. Human ISG15, therefore, is not only redundant for antiviral immunity, but is a key negative regulator of IFN-α/β immunity. In humans, intracellular ISG15 is IFN-α/β-inducible not to serve as a substrate for ISGylation-dependent antiviral immunity, but to ensure USP18-dependent regulation of IFN-α/β and prevention of IFN-α/β-dependent autoinflammation.

  • Rapid development of broadly influenza neutralizing antibodies through redundant mutations

  • The neutralizing antibody response to influenza virus is dominated by antibodies that bind to the globular head of haemagglutinin, which undergoes a continuous antigenic drift, necessitating the re-formulation of influenza vaccines on an annual basis. Recently, several laboratories have described a new class of rare influenza-neutralizing antibodies that target a conserved site in the haemagglutinin stem. Most of these antibodies use the heavy-chain variable region VH1-69 gene, and structural data demonstrate that they bind to the haemagglutinin stem through conserved heavy-chain complementarity determining region (HCDR) residues. However, the VH1-69 antibodies are highly mutated and are produced by some but not all individuals, suggesting that several somatic mutations may be required for their development. To address this, here we characterize 197 anti-stem antibodies from a single donor, reconstruct the developmental pathways of several VH1-69 clones and identify two key elements that are required for the initial development of most VH1-69 antibodies: a polymorphic germline-encoded phenylalanine at position 54 and a conserved tyrosine at position 98 in HCDR3. Strikingly, in most cases a single proline to alanine mutation at position 52a in HCDR2 is sufficient to confer high affinity binding to the selecting H1 antigen, consistent with rapid affinity maturation. Surprisingly, additional favourable mutations continue to accumulate, increasing the breadth of reactivity and making both the initial mutations and phenylalanine at position 54 functionally redundant. These results define VH1-69 allele polymorphism, rearrangement of the VDJ gene segments and single somatic mutations as the three requirements for generating broadly neutralizing VH1-69 antibodies and reveal an unexpected redundancy in the affinity maturation process.

  • R-loops induce repressive chromatin marks over mammalian gene terminators

  • The formation of R-loops is a natural consequence of the transcription process, caused by invasion of the DNA duplex by nascent transcripts. These structures have been considered rare transcriptional by-products with potentially harmful effects on genome integrity owing to the fragility of the displaced DNA coding strand. However, R-loops may also possess beneficial effects, as their widespread formation has been detected over CpG island promoters in human genes. Furthermore, we have previously shown that R-loops are particularly enriched over G-rich terminator elements. These facilitate RNA polymerase II (Pol II) pausing before efficient termination. Here we reveal an unanticipated link between R-loops and RNA-interference-dependent H3K9me2 formation over pause-site termination regions in mammalian protein-coding genes. We show that R-loops induce antisense transcription over these pause elements, which in turn leads to the generation of double-stranded RNA and the recruitment of DICER, AGO1, AGO2 and the G9a histone lysine methyltransferase. Consequently, an H3K9me2 repressive mark is formed and heterochromatin protein 1γ (HP1γ) is recruited, which reinforces Pol II pausing before efficient transcriptional termination. We predict that R-loops promote a chromatin architecture that defines the termination region for a substantial subset of mammalian genes.

  • Animal behaviour: Incipient tradition in wild chimpanzees

  • The adoption of a new form of tool use has been observed to spread along social-network pathways in a chimpanzee community. The finding offers the first direct evidence of cultural diffusion in these animals in the wild.

  • An evolutionary arms race between KRAB zinc-finger genes ZNF91/93 and SVA/L1 retrotransposons

  • Throughout evolution primate genomes have been modified by waves of retrotransposon insertions. For each wave, the host eventually finds a way to repress retrotransposon transcription and prevent further insertions. In mouse embryonic stem cells, transcriptional silencing of retrotransposons requires KAP1 (also known as TRIM28) and its repressive complex, which can be recruited to target sites by KRAB zinc-finger (KZNF) proteins such as murine-specific ZFP809 which binds to integrated murine leukaemia virus DNA elements and recruits KAP1 to repress them. KZNF genes are one of the fastest growing gene families in primates and this expansion is hypothesized to enable primates to respond to newly emerged retrotransposons. However, the identity of KZNF genes battling retrotransposons currently active in the human genome, such as SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) and long interspersed nuclear element 1 (L1), is unknown. Here we show that two primate-specific KZNF genes rapidly evolved to repress these two distinct retrotransposon families shortly after they began to spread in our ancestral genome. ZNF91 underwent a series of structural changes 8–12 million years ago that enabled it to repress SVA elements. ZNF93 evolved earlier to repress the primate L1 lineage until ∼12.5 million years ago when the L1PA3-subfamily of retrotransposons escaped ZNF93’s restriction through the removal of the ZNF93-binding site. Our data support a modelwhere KZNF gene expansion limits the activity of newly emerged retrotransposon classes, and this is followed by mutations in these retrotransposons to evade repression, a cycle of events that could explain the rapid expansion of lineage-specific KZNF genes.

  • Dietary modulation of the microbiome affects autoinflammatory disease

  • The incidences of chronic inflammatory disorders have increased considerably over the past three decades. Recent shifts in dietary consumption may have contributed importantly to this surge, but how dietary consumption modulates inflammatory disease is poorly defined. Pstpip2cmo mice, which express a homozygous Leu98Pro missense mutation in the Pombe Cdc15 homology family protein PSTPIP2 (proline-serine-threonine phosphatase interacting protein 2), spontaneously develop osteomyelitis that resembles chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis in humans. Recent reports demonstrated a crucial role for interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in osteomyelitis, but deletion of the inflammasome components caspase-1 and NLRP3 failed to rescue Pstpip2cmo mice from inflammatory bone disease. Thus, the upstream mechanisms controlling IL-1β production in Pstpip2cmo mice remain to be identified. In addition, the environmental factors driving IL-1β-dependent inflammatory bone erosion are unknown. Here we show that the intestinal microbiota of diseased Pstpip2cmo mice was characterized by an outgrowth of Prevotella. Notably, Pstpip2cmo mice that were fed a diet rich in fat and cholesterol maintained a normal body weight, but were markedly protected against inflammatory bone disease and bone erosion. Diet-induced protection against osteomyelitis was accompanied by marked reductions in intestinal Prevotella levels and significantly reduced pro-IL-1β expression in distant neutrophils. Furthermore, pro-IL-1β expression wasalso decreased in Pstpip2cmo mice treated with antibiotics, and in wild-type mice that were kept under germ-free conditions. We further demonstrate that combined deletion of caspases 1 and 8 was required for protection against IL-1β-dependent inflammatory bone disease, whereas the deletion of either caspase alone or of elastase or neutrophil proteinase 3 failed to prevent inflammatory disease. Collectively, this work reveals diet-associated changes in the intestinal microbiome as a crucial factor regulating inflammasome- and caspase-8-mediated maturation of IL-1β and osteomyelitis in Pstpip2cmo mice.

  • Loss of signalling via Gα13 in germinal centre B-cell-derived lymphoma

  • Germinal centre B-cell-like diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (GCB-DLBCL) is a common malignancy, yet the signalling pathways that are deregulated and the factors leading to its systemic dissemination are poorly defined. Work in mice showed that sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-2 (S1PR2), a Gα12 and Gα13 coupled receptor, promotes growth regulation and local confinement of germinal centre B cells. Recent deep sequencing studies of GCB-DLBCL have revealed mutations in many genes in this cancer, including in GNA13 (encoding Gα13) and S1PR2 (refs 5,6, 7). Here we show, using in vitro and in vivo assays, that GCB-DLBCL-associated mutations occurring in S1PR2 frequently disrupt the receptor’s Akt and migration inhibitory functions. Gα13-deficient mouse germinal centre B cells and human GCB-DLBCL cells were unable to suppress pAkt and migration in response to S1P, and Gα13-deficient mice developed germinal centre B-cell-derived lymphoma. Germinal centre B cells, unlike most lymphocytes, are tightly confined in lymphoid organs and do not recirculate. Remarkably, deficiency in Gα13, but not S1PR2, led to germinal centre B-cell dissemination into lymph and blood. GCB-DLBCL cell lines frequently carried mutations in the Gα13 effector ARHGEF1, and Arhgef1 deficiency also led to germinal centre B-cell dissemination. The incomplete phenocopy of Gα13- and S1PR2 deficiency led us to discover that P2RY8, an orphan receptor that is mutated in GCB-DLBCL and another germinal centre B-cell-derived malignancy, Burkitt’s lymphoma, also represses germinal centre B-cell growth and promotes confinement via Gα13. These findings identify a Gα13-dependent pathway that exerts dual actions in suppressing growth and blocking dissemination of germinal centre B cells that is frequently disrupted in germinal centre B-cell-derived lymphoma.

  • Programmable RNA recognition and cleavage by CRISPR/Cas9

  • The CRISPR-associated protein Cas9 is an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease that uses RNA–DNA complementarity to identify target sites for sequence-specific double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) cleavage. In its native context, Cas9 acts on DNA substrates exclusively because both binding and catalysis require recognition of a short DNA sequence, known as the protospacer adjacent motif (PAM), next to and on the strand opposite the twenty-nucleotide target site in dsDNA. Cas9 has proven to be a versatile tool for genome engineering and gene regulation in a large range of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell types, and in whole organisms, but it has been thought to be incapable of targeting RNA.Here we show that Cas9 binds with high affinity to single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) targets matching the Cas9-associated guide RNA sequence when the PAM is presented in trans as a separate DNA oligonucleotide. Furthermore, PAM-presenting oligonucleotides (PAMmers) stimulate site-specific endonucleolyticcleavage of ssRNA targets, similar to PAM-mediated stimulation of Cas9-catalysed DNA cleavage. Using specially designed PAMmers, Cas9 can be specifically directed to bind or cut RNA targets while avoiding corresponding DNA sequences, and we demonstrate that this strategy enables the isolation of a specific endogenous messenger RNA from cells. These results reveal a fundamental connection between PAM binding and substrate selection by Cas9, and highlight the utility of Cas9 for programmable transcript recognition without the need for tags.

  • Mitochondrial UPR-regulated innate immunity provides resistance to pathogen infection

  • Metazoans identify and eliminate bacterial pathogens in microbe-rich environments such as the intestinal lumen; however, the mechanisms are unclear. Host cells could potentially use intracellular surveillance or stress response programs to detect pathogens that target monitored cellular activities and then initiate innate immune responses. Mitochondrial function is evaluated by monitoring mitochondrial protein import efficiency of the transcription factor ATFS-1, which mediates the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). During mitochondrial stress, mitochondrial import is impaired, allowing ATFS-1 to traffic to the nucleus where it mediates a transcriptional response to re-establish mitochondrial homeostasis. Here we examined the role of ATFS-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans during pathogen exposure, because during mitochondrial stress ATFS-1 induced not only mitochondrial protective genes but also innate immune genes that included a secreted lysozyme and anti-microbial peptides. Exposure to the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa caused mitochondrial dysfunction and activation of the UPRmt. C. elegans lacking atfs-1 were susceptible to P. aeruginosa, whereas hyper-activation of ATFS-1 and the UPRmt improved clearance of P. aeruginosa from the intestine and prolonged C. elegans survival in a manner mainly independent of known innate immune pathways. We propose that ATFS-1 import efficiency and the UPRmt is a means to detect pathogens that target mitochondria and initiate a protective innate immune response.

  • Structural biology: Lariat lessons

  • The spliceosome enzyme complex removes intron sequences from RNA transcripts to form messenger RNA. The crystal structure of a lasso-shaped RNA suggests a mechanism for this splicing process.

  • Crystal structure of a eukaryotic group II intron lariat

  • This study determines the structure of a branched lariat RNA, providing insights into rearrangement of the intron between the two steps of RNA splicing.

  • Tyrosine phosphorylation of histone H2A by CK2 regulates transcriptional elongation

  • Post-translational histone modifications have a critical role in regulating transcription, the cell cycle, DNA replication and DNA damage repair. The identification of new histone modifications critical for transcriptional regulation at initiation, elongation or termination is of particular interest. Here we report a new layer of regulation in transcriptional elongation that is conserved from yeast to mammals. This regulation is based on the phosphorylation of a highly conserved tyrosine residue, Tyr 57, in histone H2A and is mediated by the unsuspected tyrosine kinase activity of casein kinase 2 (CK2). Mutation of Tyr 57 in H2A in yeast or inhibition of CK2 activity impairs transcriptional elongation in yeast as well as in mammalian cells. Genome-wide binding analysis reveals that CK2α, the catalytic subunit of CK2, binds across RNA-polymerase-II-transcribed coding genes and active enhancers. Mutation of Tyr 57 causes a loss of H2B mono-ubiquitination as well as H3K4me3 and H3K79me3, histone marks associated with active transcription. Mechanistically, both CK2 inhibition and the H2A(Y57F) mutation enhance H2B deubiquitination activity of the Spt-Ada-Gcn5 acetyltransferase (SAGA) complex, suggesting a critical role of this phosphorylation in coordinating the activity of the SAGA complex during transcription. Together, these results identify a new component of regulation in transcriptional elongation based on CK2-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of the globular domain of H2A.

  • Global covariation of carbon turnover times with climate in terrestrial ecosystems

  • The response of the terrestrial carbon cycle to climate change is among the largest uncertainties affecting future climate change projections. The feedback between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate is partly determined by changes in the turnover time of carbon in land ecosystems, which in turn is an ecosystem property that emerges from the interplay between climate, soil and vegetation type. Here we present a global, spatially explicit and observation-based assessment of whole-ecosystem carbon turnover times that combines new estimates of vegetation and soil organic carbon stocks and fluxes. We find that the overall mean global carbon turnover time is years (95 per cent confidence interval). On average, carbon resides in the vegetation and soil near the Equator for a shorter time than at latitudes north of 75° north (mean turnover times of 15 and 255 years, respectively). We identify a clear dependence of the turnover time on temperature, asexpected from our present understanding of temperature controls on ecosystem dynamics. Surprisingly, our analysis also reveals a similarly strong association between turnover time and precipitation. Moreover, we find that the ecosystem carbon turnover times simulated by state-of-the-art coupled climate/carbon-cycle models vary widely and that numerical simulations, on average, tend to underestimate the global carbon turnover time by 36 per cent. The models show stronger spatial relationships with temperature than do observation-based estimates, but generally do not reproduce the strong relationships with precipitation and predict faster carbon turnover in many semi-arid regions. Our findings suggest that future climate/carbon-cycle feedbacks may depend more strongly on changes in the hydrological cycle than is expected at present and is considered in Earth system models.

  • Cell differentiation and germ–soma separation in Ediacaran animal embryo-like fossils

  • Phosphorites of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (∼600 million years old) yield spheroidal microfossils with a palintomic cell cleavage pattern. These fossils have been variously interpreted as sulphur-oxidizing bacteria, unicellular protists, mesomycetozoean-like holozoans, green algae akin to Volvox, and blastula embryos of early metazoans orbilaterian animals. However, their complete life cycle is unknown and it is uncertain whether they had a cellularly differentiated ontogenetic stage, making it difficult to test their various phylogenetic interpretations. Here we describe new spheroidal fossils from black phosphorites of the Doushantuo Formation that have been overlooked in previous studies. These fossils represent later developmental stages of previously published blastula-like fossils, and they show evidence for cell differentiation, germ–soma separation, and programmed cell death. Their complex multicellularity is inconsistent with a phylogenetic affinity with bacteria, unicellular protists, or mesomycetozoean-like holozoans. Available evidence also indicates that the Doushantuo fossils are unlikely crown-group animals or volvocine green algae. We conclude that an affinity with cellularly differentiated multicellular eukaryotes, including stem-group animals or algae, is likely but more data are needed to constrain further the exact phylogenetic affinity of the Doushantuo fossils.

  • Individual improvements and selective mortality shape lifelong migratory performance

  • Billions of organisms, from bacteria to humans, migrate each year and research on their migration biology is expanding rapidly through ever more sophisticated remote sensing technologies. However, little is known about how migratory performance develops through life for any organism. To date, age variation has been almost systematically simplified into a dichotomous comparison between recently born juveniles at their first migration versus adults of unknown age. These comparisons have regularly highlighted better migratory performance by adults compared with juveniles, but it is unknown whether such variation is gradual or abrupt and whether it is driven by improvements within the individual, by selective mortality of poor performers, or both. Here we exploit the opportunity offered by long-term monitoring of individuals through Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite tracking to combine within-individual and cross-sectional data on 364 migration episodes from 92 individuals of a raptorial bird, aged 1–27 years old. We show that the development of migratory behaviour follows a consistent trajectory, more gradual and prolonged than previously appreciated, and that this is promoted by both individual improvements and selective mortality, mainly operating in early life and during the pre-breedingmigration. Individuals of different age used different travelling tactics and varied in their ability to exploit tailwinds or to cope with wind drift. All individuals seemed aligned along a race with their contemporary peers, whose outcome was largely determined by the ability to depart early, affecting their subsequent recruitment, reproduction and survival. Understanding how climate change and human action can affect the migration of younger animals may be the key to managing and forecasting the declines of many threatened migrants.

  • Multiplex single-molecule interaction profiling of DNA-barcoded proteins

  • In contrast with advances in massively parallel DNA sequencing, high-throughput protein analyses are often limited by ensemble measurements, individual analyte purification and hence compromised quality and cost-effectiveness. Single-molecule protein detection using optical methods is limited by the number of spectrally non-overlapping chromophores. Here we introduce a single-molecular-interaction sequencing (SMI-seq) technology for parallel protein interaction profiling leveraging single-molecule advantages. DNA barcodes are attached to proteins collectively via ribosome display or individually via enzymatic conjugation. Barcoded proteins are assayed en masse in aqueous solution and subsequently immobilized in a polyacrylamide thin film to construct a random single-molecule array, where barcoding DNAs are amplified into in situ polymerase colonies (polonies) and analysed by DNA sequencing. This method allows precise quantification of various proteins with a theoretical maximum array density of over one million polonies per square millimetre. Furthermore, protein interactions can be measured on the basis of the statistics of colocalized polonies arising from barcoding DNAs of interacting proteins. Two demanding applications, G-protein coupled receptor and antibody-binding profiling, are demonstrated. SMI-seq enables‘library versus library’ screening in a one-pot assay, simultaneously interrogating molecular binding affinity and specificity.

  • Regulation of RNA polymerase II activation by histone acetylation in single living cells

  • In eukaryotic cells, post-translational histone modifications have an important role in gene regulation. Starting with early work on histone acetylation, a variety of residue-specific modifications have now been linked to RNA polymerase II (RNAP2) activity, but it remains unclear if these markers are active regulators of transcription or just passive byproducts. This is because studies have traditionally relied on fixed cell populations, meaning temporal resolution is limited to minutes at best, and correlated factors may not actually be present in the same cell at the same time. Complementary approaches are therefore needed to probe the dynamic interplay of histone modifications and RNAP2 with higher temporal resolution in single living cells. Here we address this problem by developing a system to track residue-specific histone modifications and RNAP2 phosphorylation in living cells by fluorescence microscopy. This increases temporal resolution to the tens-of-seconds range. Our single-cell analysis reveals histone H3 lysine-27 acetylation at a gene locus can alter downstream transcription kinetics by as much as 50%, affecting two temporally separate events. First acetylation enhances the search kinetics of transcriptional activators, and later the acetylation accelerates the transition of RNAP2 from initiation to elongation. Signatures of the latter can be found genome-wide using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing. We argue that this regulation leads to a robust and potentially tunable transcriptional response.

  • Health: The weighty costs of non-caloric sweeteners

  • Analyses in mice and humans indicate that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may promote obesity-associated metabolic changes by changing the function of the bacteria that colonize the gut.

  • Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

  • Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS), widely used food additives considered to be safe and beneficial alternatives to sugars, are shown here to lead to the development of glucose intolerance through compositional and functional changes in the gut microbiota of mice, and the deleterious metabolic effects are transferred to germ-free mice by faecal transplant; NAS-induced dysbiosis and glucose intolerance are also demonstrated in healthy human subjects.

  • Members of the human gut microbiota involved in recovery from Vibrio cholerae infection

  • Given the global burden of diarrhoeal diseases, it is important to understand how members of the gut microbiota affect the risk for, course of, and recovery from disease in children and adults. The acute, voluminous diarrhoea caused by Vibrio cholerae represents a dramatic example of enteropathogen invasion and gut microbial community disruption. Here we conduct a detailed time-series metagenomic study of faecal microbiota collected during the acute diarrhoeal and recovery phases of cholera in a cohort of Bangladeshi adults living in an area with a high burden of disease. We find that recovery is characterized by a pattern of accumulation of bacterial taxa that shows similarities to the pattern of assembly/maturation of the gut microbiota in healthy Bangladeshi children. To define the underlying mechanisms, we introduce into gnotobiotic mice an artificial community composed of human gut bacterial species that directly correlate with recovery from cholera in adults and are indicative of normal microbiota maturation in healthy Bangladeshi children. One of the species, Ruminococcus obeum, exhibits consistent increases in its relative abundance upon V. cholerae infection of the mice. Follow-up analyses, including mono- and co-colonization studies, establish that R. obeum restricts V. cholerae colonization, that R. obeum luxS (autoinducer-2 (AI-2) synthase) expression and AI-2 production increase significantly with V. cholerae invasion, and that R. obeum AI-2 causes quorum-sensing-mediated repression of several V. cholerae colonization factors. Co-colonization with V. cholerae mutants discloses that R. obeum AI-2 reduces Vibrio colonization/pathogenicity through a novel pathway that does not depend on the V. cholerae AI-2 sensor, LuxP. The approach described can be used to mine the gut microbiota of Bangladeshi or other populations for members that use autoinducers and/or other mechanisms to limit colonization with V. cholerae, or conceivably other enteropathogens.

  • High secondary aerosol contribution to particulate pollution during haze events in China

  • Rapid industrialization and urbanization in developing countries has led to an increase in air pollution, along a similar trajectory to that previously experienced by the developed nations. In China, particulate pollution is a serious environmental problem that is influencing air quality, regional and global climates, and human health. In response to the extremely severe and persistent haze pollution experienced by about 800 million people during the first quarter of 2013 (refs 4, 5), the Chinese State Council announced its aim to reduce concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) by up to 25 per cent relative to 2012 levels by 2017 (ref. 6). Such efforts however require elucidation of the factors governing the abundance and composition of PM2.5, which remain poorly constrained in China. Here we combine a comprehensive set of novel and state-of-the-art offlineanalytical approaches and statistical techniques to investigate the chemical nature and sources of particulate matter at urban locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an during January 2013. We find that the severe haze pollution event was driven to a large extent by secondary aerosol formation, which contributed 30–77 per cent and 44–71 per cent (average for all four cities) of PM2.5 and of organic aerosol, respectively. On average, the contribution of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA) are found to be of similar importance (SOA/SIA ratios range from 0.6 to 1.4). Our results suggest that, in addition to mitigating primary particulate emissions, reducing the emissions of secondary aerosol precursors from, for example, fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning is likely to be important for controlling China’s PM2.5 levels and for reducing the environmental, economic and health impacts resulting from particulate pollution.

  • Large, non-saturating magnetoresistance in WTe2

  • Magnetoresistance is the change in a material’s electrical resistance in response to an applied magnetic field. Materials with large magnetoresistance have found use as magnetic sensors, in magnetic memory, and in hard drives at room temperature, and their rarity has motivated many fundamental studies in materials physics at low temperatures. Here we report the observation of an extremely large positive magnetoresistance at low temperatures in the non-magnetic layered transition-metal dichalcogenide WTe2: 452,700 per cent at 4.5 kelvins in a magnetic field of 14.7 teslas, and 13 million per cent at 0.53 kelvins in a magnetic field of 60 teslas. In contrast with other materials, there is no saturation of the magnetoresistance value even at very high applied fields. Determination of the origin and consequences of this effect, and the fabrication of thin films, nanostructures and devices based on the extremely large positive magnetoresistance of WTe2, will represent a significant new direction in the study of magnetoresistivity.

  • Epigenetic reprogramming that prevents transgenerational inheritance of the vernalized state

  • The reprogramming of epigenetic states in gametes and embryos is essential for correct development in plants and mammals. In plants, the germ line arises from somatic tissues of the flower, necessitating the erasure of chromatin modifications that have accumulated at specific loci during development or in response to external stimuli. If this process occurs inefficiently, it can lead to epigenetic states being inherited from one generation to the next. However, in most cases, accumulated epigenetic modifications are efficiently erased before the next generation. An important example of epigenetic reprogramming in plants is the resetting of the expression of the floral repressor locus FLC in Arabidopsis thaliana. FLC is epigenetically silenced by prolonged cold in a process called vernalization. However, the locus is reactivated before the completion of seed development, ensuring the requirement for vernalization in every generation. In contrast to our detailed understanding of the polycomb-mediated epigenetic silencing induced by vernalization, little is known about the mechanism involved in the reactivation of FLC. Here we show that a hypomorphic mutation in the jumonji-domain-containing protein ELF6 impaired the reactivation of FLC in reproductive tissues, leading to the inheritance of a partially vernalized state. ELF6 has H3K27me3 demethylase activity, and the mutation reduced this enzymatic activity in planta. Consistent with this, in the next generation of mutant plants, H3K27me3 levels at the FLC locus stayed higher, and FLC expression remained lower, than in the wild type. Our data reveal an ancient role for H3K27 demethylation in the reprogramming of epigenetic states in plant and mammalian embryos.

  • Structural and mechanistic insights into the bacterial amyloid secretion channel CsgG

  • Curli are functional amyloid fibres that constitute the major protein component of the extracellular matrix in pellicle biofilms formed by Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria (predominantly of theα and γ classes). They provide a fitness advantage in pathogenic strains and induce a strong pro-inflammatory response during bacteraemia. Curli formation requires a dedicated protein secretion machinery comprising the outer membrane lipoprotein CsgG and two soluble accessory proteins, CsgE and CsgF. Here we report the X-ray structure of Escherichia coli CsgG in a non-lipidated, soluble form as well as in its native membrane-extracted conformation. CsgG forms an oligomeric transport complex composed of nine anticodon-binding-domain-like units that give rise to a 36-stranded β-barrel that traverses the bilayer and is connected to a cage-like vestibule in the periplasm. The transmembrane and periplasmic domains are separated by a 0.9-nm channel constriction composed of three stacked concentric phenylalanine, asparagine and tyrosine rings that may guide the extended polypeptide substrate through the secretion pore. The specificity factor CsgE forms a nonameric adaptor that binds and closes off the periplasmic face of the secretion channel, creating a 24,000 Å3 pre-constriction chamber. Our structural, functional and electrophysiological analyses imply that CsgG is an ungated, non-selective protein secretion channel that is expected to employ a diffusion-based, entropy-driven transport mechanism.

  • Discovery and characterization of small molecules that target the GTPase Ral

  • The Ras-like GTPases RalA and RalB are important drivers of tumour growth and metastasis. Chemicals that block Ral function would be valuable as research tools and for cancer therapeutics. Here we used protein structure analysis and virtual screening to identify drug-like molecules that bind to a site on the GDP-bound form of Ral. The compounds RBC6, RBC8 and RBC10 inhibited the binding of Ral to its effector RALBP1, as well as inhibiting Ral-mediated cell spreading of murine embryonic fibroblasts and anchorage-independent growth of human cancer cell lines. The binding of the RBC8 derivative BQU57 to RalB was confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance and 1H–15N transverse relaxation-optimized spectroscopy (TROSY) NMR spectroscopy. RBC8 and BQU57 show selectivity for Ral relative to the GTPases Ras and RhoA and inhibit tumour xenograft growth to a similar extent to the depletion of Ral using RNA interference. Our results show the utility of structure-based discovery for the development of therapeutics for Ral-dependent cancers.

  • Histone H2A.Z subunit exchange controls consolidation of recent and remote memory

  • Memory formation is a multi-stage process that initially requires cellular consolidation in the hippocampus, after which memories are downloaded to the cortex for maintenance, in a process termed systems consolidation. Epigenetic mechanisms regulate both types of consolidation, but histone variant exchange, in which canonical histones are replaced with their variant counterparts, is an entire branch of epigenetics that has received limited attention in the brain and has never, to our knowledge, been studied in relation to cognitive function. Here we show that histone H2A.Z, a variant of histone H2A, is actively exchanged in response to fear conditioning in the hippocampus and the cortex, where it mediates gene expression and restrains the formation of recent and remote memory. Our data provide evidence for H2A.Z involvement in cognitive function and specifically implicate H2A.Z as a negative regulator of hippocampal consolidation and systems consolidation, probably through downstream effects on gene expression. Moreover, alterations in H2A.Z binding at later stages of systems consolidation suggest that this histone has the capacity to mediate stable molecular modifications required for memory retention. Overall, our data introduce histone variant exchange as a novel mechanism contributing to the molecular basis of cognitive function and implicate H2A.Z as a potential therapeutic target for memory disorders.

  • The drivers of tropical speciation

  • Since the recognition that allopatric speciation can be induced by large-scale reconfigurations of the landscape that isolate formerly continuous populations, such as the separation of continents by plate tectonics, the uplift of mountains or the formation of large rivers, landscape change has been viewed as a primary driver of biological diversification. This process is referred to in biogeography as vicariance. In the most species-rich region of the world, the Neotropics, the sundering of populations associated with the Andean uplift is ascribed this principal role in speciation. An alternative model posits that rather than being directly linked to landscape change, allopatric speciation is initiated to a greater extent by dispersal events, with the principal drivers of speciation being organism-specific abilities to persist and disperse in the landscape. Landscape change is not a necessity for speciation in this model. Here we show that spatial and temporal patterns of genetic differentiation in Neotropical birds are highly discordant across lineages and are not reconcilable with a model linking speciation solely to landscape change. Instead, the strongest predictors of speciation are the amount of time a lineage has persisted in the landscape and the ability of birds to move through the landscape matrix. These results, augmented by the observation that most species-level diversity originated after episodes of major Andean uplift in the Neogene period, suggest that dispersal and differentiation on a matrix previously shaped by large-scale landscape events was a major driver of avian speciation in lowland Neotropical rainforests.

  • A structure-based mechanism for tRNA and retroviral RNA remodelling during primer annealing

  • To prime reverse transcription, retroviruses require annealing of a transfer RNA molecule to the U5 primer binding site (U5-PBS) region of the viral genome. The residues essential for primer annealing are initially locked in intramolecular interactions; hence, annealing requires the chaperone activity of the retroviral nucleocapsid (NC) protein to facilitate structural rearrangements. Here we show that, unlike classical chaperones, the Moloney murine leukaemia virus NC uses a unique mechanism for remodelling: it specifically targets multiple structured regions in both the U5-PBS and tRNAPro primer that otherwise sequester residues necessary for annealing. This high-specificity and high-affinity binding by NC consequently liberates these sequestered residues—which are exactly complementary—for intermolecular interactions. Furthermore, NC utilizes a step-wise, entropy-driven mechanism to trigger both residue-specific destabilization and residue-specific release. Our structures of NC bound to U5-PBS and tRNAPro reveal the structure-based mechanism for retroviral primer annealing and provide insights as to how ATP-independent chaperones can target specific RNAs amidst the cellular milieu of non-target RNAs.

  • Transcript-RNA-templated DNA recombination and repair

  • Homologous recombination is a molecular process that has multiple important roles in DNA metabolism, both for DNA repair and genetic variation in all forms of life. Generally, homologous recombination involves the exchange of genetic information between two identical or nearly identical DNA molecules; however, homologous recombination can also occur between RNA molecules, as shown for RNA viruses. Previous research showed that synthetic RNA oligonucleotides can act as templates for DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in yeast and human cells, and artificial long RNA templates injected in ciliate cells can guide genomic rearrangements. Here we report that endogenous transcript RNA mediates homologous recombination with chromosomal DNA in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We developed a system to detect the events of homologous recombination initiated by transcript RNA following the repair of a chromosomal DSB occurring either in a homologous but remote locus, or in the same transcript-generating locus in reverse-transcription-defective yeast strains. We found that RNA–DNA recombination is blocked by ribonucleases H1 and H2. In the presence of H-type ribonucleases, DSB repair proceeds through a complementary DNA intermediate, whereas in their absence, it proceeds directly through RNA. The proximity of the transcript to its chromosomal DNA partner in the same locus facilitates Rad52-driven homologous recombination during DSB repair. We demonstrate that yeast and human Rad52 proteins efficiently catalyse annealing of RNA to a DSB-like DNA end in vitro. Our results reveal a novel mechanism of homologous recombination and DNA repair in which transcript RNA is used as a template for DSB repair. Thus, considering the abundance of RNA transcripts in cells, RNA may have a marked impact on genomic stability and plasticity.

  • Structures of bacterial homologues of SWEET transporters in two distinct conformations

  • SWEETs and their prokaryotic homologues are monosaccharide and disaccharide transporters that are present from Archaea to plants and humans. SWEETs play crucial roles in cellular sugar efflux processes: that is, in phloem loading, pollen nutrition and nectar secretion. Their bacterial homologues, which are called SemiSWEETs, are among the smallest known transporters. Here we show that SemiSWEET molecules, which consist of a triple-helix bundle, form symmetrical, parallel dimers, thereby generating the translocation pathway. Two SemiSWEET isoforms were crystallized, one in an apparently open state and one in an occluded state, indicating that SemiSWEETs and SWEETs are transporters that undergo rocking-type movements during the transport cycle. The topology of the triple-helix bundle is similar yet distinct to that of the basic building block of animal and plant major facilitator superfamily (MFS) transporters (for example, GLUTs and SUTs). This finding indicates two possibilities: that SWEETs and MFS transporters evolved from an ancestral triple-helix bundle or that the triple-helix bundle represents convergent evolution. In SemiSWEETs and SWEETs, two triple-helix bundles are arranged in a parallel configuration to produce the 6- and 6 + 1-transmembrane-helix pores, respectively. In the 12-transmembrane-helix MFS transporters, four triple-helix bundles are arranged into an alternating antiparallel configuration, resulting in a much larger 2 × 2 triple-helix bundle forming the pore. Given the similarity of SemiSWEETs and SWEETs to PQ-loop amino acid transporters and to mitochondrial pyruvate carriers (MPCs), the structures characterized here may also be relevant to other transporters in the MtN3 clan. The insight gained from the structures of these transporters and from the analysis of mutations of conserved residues will improve the understanding of the transport mechanism, as well as allow comparative studies of the different superfamilies involved in sugar transport and the evolution of transporters in general.

  • HSP70 sequestration by freeα-globin promotes ineffective erythropoiesis in β-thalassaemia

  • β-Thalassaemia major (β-TM) is an inherited haemoglobinopathy caused by a quantitative defect in the synthesis of β-globin chains of haemoglobin, leading to the accumulation of free α-globin chains that form toxic aggregates. Despite extensive knowledge of the molecular defects causing β-TM, little is known of the mechanisms responsible for the ineffective erythropoiesis observed in the condition, which is characterized by accelerated erythroid differentiation, maturation arrest and apoptosis at the polychromatophilic stage. We have previously demonstrated that normal human erythroid maturation requires a transient activation of caspase-3 at the later stages of maturation. Although erythroid transcription factor GATA-1, the master transcriptional factor of erythropoiesis, is a caspase-3 target, it is not cleaved during erythroid differentiation. We have shown that, in human erythroblasts, the chaperone heat shock protein70 (HSP70) is constitutively expressed and, at later stages of maturation, translocates into the nucleus and protects GATA-1 from caspase-3 cleavage. The primary role of this ubiquitous chaperone is to participate in the refolding of proteins denatured by cytoplasmic stress, thus preventing their aggregation. Here we show in vitro that during the maturation of human β-TM erythroblasts, HSP70 interacts directly with free α-globin chains. As a consequence, HSP70 is sequestrated in the cytoplasm and GATA-1 is no longer protected, resulting in end-stage maturation arrest and apoptosis. Transduction of a nuclear-targeted HSP70 mutant or a caspase-3-uncleavable GATA-1 mutant restores terminal maturation of β-TM erythroblasts, which may provide a rationale for new targeted therapies of β-TM.

  • Synaptic dysregulation in a human iPS cell model of mental disorders

  • Dysregulated neurodevelopment with altered structural and functional connectivity is believed to underlie many neuropsychiatric disorders, and‘a disease of synapses’ is the major hypothesis for the biological basis of schizophrenia. Although this hypothesis has gained indirect support from human post-mortem brain analyses and genetic studies, little is known about the pathophysiology of synapses in patient neurons and how susceptibility genes for mental disorders could lead to synaptic deficits in humans. Genetics of most psychiatric disorders are extremely complex due to multiple susceptibility variants with low penetrance and variable phenotypes. Rare, multiply affected, large families in which a single genetic locus is probably responsible for conferring susceptibility have proven invaluable for the study of complex disorders. Here we generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from four members of a family in which a frameshift mutation of disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) co-segregated with major psychiatric disorders and we further produced different isogenic iPS cell lines via gene editing. We showed that mutant DISC1 causes synaptic vesicle release deficits in iPS-cell-derived forebrain neurons. Mutant DISC1 depletes wild-type DISC1 protein and, furthermore, dysregulates expression of many genes related to synapses and psychiatric disorders in human forebrain neurons. Our study reveals that a psychiatric disorder relevant mutation causes synapse deficits and transcriptional dysregulation in human neurons and our findings provide new insight into the molecular and synaptic etiopathology of psychiatric disorders.

  • Structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies

  • Invasion of host erythrocytes is essential to the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites and development of the pathology of malaria. The stages of erythrocyte invasion, including initial contact, apical reorientation, junction formation, and active invagination, are directed by coordinated release of specialized apical organelles and their parasite protein contents. Among these proteins, and central to invasion by all species, are two parasite protein families, the reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins, which mediate host–parasite interactions. RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) is the only member of either family demonstrated to be necessary for erythrocyte invasion in all tested strains, through its interaction with the erythrocyte surface protein basigin (also known as CD147 and EMMPRIN). Antibodies targeting PfRH5 or basigin efficiently block parasite invasion in vitro, making PfRH5 an excellent vaccine candidate. Here we present crystal structures of PfRH5 in complex with basigin and two distinct inhibitory antibodies. PfRH5 adopts a novel fold in which two three-helical bundles come together in a kite-like architecture, presenting binding sites for basigin and inhibitory antibodies at one tip. This provides the first structural insight into erythrocyte binding by the Plasmodium RH protein family and identifies novel inhibitory epitopes to guide design of a new generation of vaccines against the blood-stage parasite.

  • PRC2 loss amplifies Ras-driven transcription and confers sensitivity to BRD4-based therapies

  • The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) exerts oncogenic effects in many tumour types. However, loss-of-function mutations in PRC2 components occur in a subset of haematopoietic malignancies, suggesting that this complex plays a dichotomous and poorly understood role in cancer. Here we provide genomic, cellular, and mouse modelling data demonstrating that the polycomb group gene SUZ12 functions as tumour suppressor in PNS tumours, high-grade gliomas and melanomas by cooperating with mutations in NF1. NF1 encodes a Ras GTPase-activating protein (RasGAP) and its loss drives cancer by activating Ras. We show that SUZ12 loss potentiates the effects of NF1 mutations by amplifying Ras-driven transcription through effects on chromatin. Importantly, however, SUZ12 inactivation also triggers an epigenetic switch that sensitizes these cancers to bromodomain inhibitors. Collectively, these studies not only reveal an unexpected connection between the PRC2 complex, NF1 and Ras, but also identify a promising epigenetic-based therapeutic strategy that may be exploited for a variety of cancers.

  • Inflammatory caspases are innate immune receptors for intracellular LPS

  • Caspase-4 and caspase-11 are shown to be the direct sensors for cytoplasmic lipopolysaccharide in humans and mice, respectively, mediating inflammatory cell death in intracellular bacterial infection.

  • Protein competition switches the function of COP9 from self-renewal to differentiation

  • The balance between stem cell self-renewal and differentiation is controlled by intrinsic factors and niche signals. In the Drosophila melanogaster ovary, some intrinsic factors promote germline stem cell (GSC) self-renewal, whereas others stimulate differentiation. However, it remains poorly understood how the balance between self-renewal and differentiation is controlled. Here we use D. melanogaster ovarian GSCs to demonstrate that the differentiation factor Bam controls the functional switch of the COP9 complex from self-renewal to differentiation via protein competition. The COP9 complex is composed of eight Csn subunits, Csn1–8, and removes Nedd8 modifications from target proteins. Genetic results indicated that the COP9 complex is required intrinsically for GSC self-renewal, whereas other Csn proteins, with the exception of Csn4, were also required for GSC progeny differentiation. Bam-mediated Csn4 sequestration from the COP9 complex via protein competition inactivated the self-renewing function of COP9 and allowed other Csn proteins to promote GSC differentiation. Therefore, this study reveals a protein-competition-based mechanism for controlling the balance between stem cell self-renewal and differentiation.Because numerous self-renewal factors are ubiquitously expressed throughout the stem cell lineage in various systems, protein competition may function as an important mechanism for controlling the self-renewal-to-differentiation switch.

  • Interleukin-22 alleviates metabolic disorders and restores mucosal immunity in diabetes

  • The connection between an altered gut microbiota and metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is well established. Defects in preserving the integrity of the mucosal barriers can result in systemic endotoxaemia that contributes to chronic low-grade inflammation, which further promotes the development of metabolic syndrome. Interleukin (IL)-22 exerts essential roles in eliciting antimicrobial immunity and maintaining mucosal barrier integrity within the intestine. Here we investigate the connection between IL-22 and metabolic disorders. We find that the induction of IL-22 from innate lymphoid cells and CD4+ T cells is impaired in obese mice under various immune challenges, especially in the colon during infection with Citrobacter rodentium. While innate lymphoid cell populations are largely intact in obese mice, the upregulation of IL-23, a cytokine upstream of IL-22, is compromised during the infection. Consequently, these mice are susceptible to C. rodentium infection, and both exogenous IL-22 and IL-23 are able to restore the mucosal host defence. Importantly, we further unveil unexpected functions of IL-22 in regulating metabolism. Mice deficient in IL-22 receptor and fed with high-fat diet are prone to developing metabolic disorders. Strikingly, administration of exogenous IL-22 in genetically obese leptin-receptor-deficient (db/db) mice and mice fed with high-fat diet reverses many of the metabolic symptoms, including hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance. IL-22 shows diverse metabolic benefits, as it improves insulin sensitivity, preserves gut mucosal barrier and endocrine functions, decreases endotoxaemia and chronic inflammation, and regulates lipid metabolism in liver and adipose tissues. In summary, we identify the IL-22 pathway as a novel target for therapeutic intervention in metabolic diseases.

  • Mechanism of Dis3l2 substrate recognition in the Lin28–let-7 pathway

  • The pluripotency factor Lin28 inhibits the biogenesis of the let-7 family of mammalian microRNAs. Lin28 is highly expressed in embryonic stem cells and has a fundamental role in regulation of development, glucose metabolism and tissue regeneration. Overexpression of Lin28 is correlated with the onset of numerous cancers, whereas let-7, a tumour suppressor, silences several human oncogenes. Lin28 binds to precursor let-7 (pre-let-7) hairpins, triggering the 3′ oligo-uridylation activity of TUT4 and TUT7 (refs 10, 11, 12). The oligoU tail added to pre-let-7 serves as a decay signal, as it is rapidly degraded by Dis3l2 (refs 13, 14), a homologue of the catalytic subunit of the RNA exosome. The molecular basis of Lin28-mediated recruitment of TUT4 and TUT7 to pre-let-7 and its subsequent degradation by Dis3l2 is largely unknown. To examine the mechanism of Dis3l2 substrate recognition we determined the structure of mouse Dis3l2 in complex with an oligoU RNA to mimic the uridylated tail of pre-let-7. Three RNA-binding domains form an open funnel onone face of the catalytic domain that allows RNA to navigate a path to the active site different from that of its exosome counterpart. The resulting path reveals an extensive network of uracil-specific interactions spanning the first 12 nucleotides of an oligoU-tailed RNA. We identify three U-specificity zones that explain how Dis3l2 recognizes, binds and processes uridylated pre-let-7 in the final step of the Lin28–let-7 pathway.

  • Required enhancer–matrin-3 network interactions for a homeodomain transcription program

  • Homeodomain proteins, described 30 years ago, exert essential roles in development as regulators of target gene expression; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying transcriptional activity of homeodomain factors remain poorly understood. Here investigation of a developmentally required POU-homeodomain transcription factor, Pit1 (also known as Pou1f1), has revealed that, unexpectedly, binding of Pit1-occupied enhancers to a nuclear matrin-3-rich network/architecture is a key event in effective activation of the Pit1-regulated enhancer/coding gene transcriptional program. Pit1 association with Satb1 (ref. 8) andβ-catenin is required for this tethering event. A naturally occurring, dominant negative, point mutation in human PIT1(R271W), causing combined pituitary hormone deficiency, results in loss of Pit1 association with β-catenin and Satb1 and therefore the matrin-3-rich network, blocking Pit1-dependent enhancer/coding target gene activation. This defective activation can be rescued by artificial tethering of the mutant R271W Pit1 protein to the matrin-3 network, bypassing the pre-requisite association with β-catenin and Satb1 otherwise required. The matrin-3 network-tethered R271W Pit1 mutant,but not the untethered protein, restores Pit1-dependent activation of the enhancers and recruitment of co-activators, exemplified by p300, causing both enhancer RNA transcription and target gene activation. These studies have thus revealed an unanticipated homeodomain factor/β-catenin/Satb1-dependent localization of target gene regulatory enhancer regions to a subnuclear architectural structure that serves as an underlying mechanism by which an enhancer-bound homeodomain factor effectively activates developmental gene transcriptional programs.

  • Inappropriate p53 activation during development induces features of CHARGE syndrome

  • CHARGE syndrome is a multiple anomaly disorder in which patients present with a variety of phenotypes, including ocular coloboma, heart defects, choanal atresia, retarded growth and development, genitourinary hypoplasia and ear abnormalities. Despite 70–90% of CHARGE syndrome cases resulting from mutations in the gene CHD7, which encodes an ATP-dependent chromatin remodeller, the pathways underlying the diverse phenotypes remain poorly understood. Surprisingly, our studies of a knock-in mutant mouse strain that expresses a stabilized and transcriptionally dead variant of the tumour-suppressor protein p53 (p5325,26,53,54), along with a wild-type allele of p53 (also known as Trp53), revealed late-gestational embryonic lethality associated with a host of phenotypes that are characteristic of CHARGE syndrome, including coloboma, inner and outer ear malformations, heart outflow tract defects and craniofacial defects. We found that the p5325,26,53,54 mutant protein stabilized and hyperactivated wild-type p53, which then inappropriately induced its target genes and triggered cell-cycle arrest or apoptosis during development. Importantly, these phenotypes were only observed with a wild-type p53 allele, as p5325,26,53,54/− embryos were fully viable. Furthermore, we found that CHD7 can bind to the p53 promoter, thereby negatively regulating p53 expression, and that CHD7 loss in mouse neural crest cells or samples from patients with CHARGE syndrome results in p53 activation. Strikingly, we found that p53 heterozygosity partially rescued the phenotypes in Chd7-null mouse embryos, demonstrating that p53 contributes to the phenotypes that result from CHD7 loss. Thus, inappropriate p53 activation during development can promote CHARGEphenotypes, supporting the idea that p53 has a critical role in developmental syndromes and providing important insight into the mechanisms underlying CHARGE syndrome.

  • Evolution: Tooth structure re-engineered

  • Mice deficient in the EDA protein lack normal tooth features. Restoring EDA in embryonic teeth at increasing doses has now been found to recover these dental features in a stepwise pattern that mimics evolution.

  • Replaying evolutionary transitions from the dental fossil record

  • Gradual changes that occur to mammalian tooth morphology across evolutionary time were modelled in vitro and in vivo by modulation of signalling pathways in the mouse, and computer modelling was used to provide further analysis of the parameters influencing tooth morphology.

  • Cancer: Directions for the drivers

  • A comparison of colorectal cancer and normal cells from 103 patients identifies dozens of genes that are differently expressed in tumour cells as a result of altered regulation of transcription.

  • Putative cis-regulatory drivers in colorectal cancer

  • The cis-regulatory effects responsible for cancer development have not been as extensively studied as the perturbations of the protein coding genome in tumorigenesis. To better characterize colorectal cancer (CRC) development we conducted an RNA-sequencing experiment of 103 matched tumour and normal colon mucosa samples from Danish CRC patients, 90 of which were germline-genotyped. By investigating allele-specific expression (ASE) we show that the germline genotypes remain important determinants of allelic gene expression in tumours. Using the changes in ASE in matched pairs of samples we discover 71 genes with excess of somatic cis-regulatory effects in CRC, suggesting a cancer driver role. We correlate genotypes and gene expression to identify expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) and find 1,693 and 948 eQTLs in normal samples and tumours, respectively. We estimate that 36% of the tumour eQTLs are exclusive to CRC and show that this specificity is partially driven by increased expression of specific transcription factors and changes in methylation patterns. We show that tumour-specific eQTLs are more enriched for low CRC genome-wide association study (GWAS) P values than shared eQTLs, which suggests that some of the GWAS variants are tumour specific regulatory variants. Importantly, tumour-specific eQTL genes also accumulate more somatic mutations when compared to the shared eQTL genes, raising the possibility that they constitute germline-derived cancer regulatory drivers. Collectively the integration of genome and the transcriptome reveals a substantial number of putative somatic and germline cis-regulatory cancer changes that may have a role in tumorigenesis.

  • HIV: Early treatment may not be early enough

  • Giving monkeys antiretroviral therapy from just three days after exposure to simian immunodeficiency virus does not prevent a subsequent rebound of viral replication, suggesting that viral reservoirs are established early.

  • Convergence of terrestrial plant production across global climate gradients

  • Net primary production is affected by temperature and precipitation, but whether this is a direct kinetic effect on plant metabolism or an indirect ecological effect mediated by changes in plant age, plant biomass or growing season length is unclear— this study develops metabolic scaling theory to be able to answer this question and applies it to a global data set of plant productivity, concluding that it is indirect effects that explain the influence of climate on productivity, which is characterized by a common scaling relationship acrossclimate gradients.

  • Rapid seeding of the viral reservoir prior to SIV viraemia in rhesus monkeys

  • The viral reservoir represents a critical challenge for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) eradication strategies. However, it remains unclear when and where the viral reservoir is seeded during acute infection and the extent to which it is susceptible to early antiretroviral therapy (ART). Here we show that the viral reservoir is seeded rapidly after mucosal simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus monkeys and before systemic viraemia. We initiated suppressive ART in groups of monkeys on days 3, 7, 10 and 14 after intrarectal SIVMAC251 infection. Treatment with ART on day 3 blocked the emergence of viral RNA and proviral DNA in peripheral blood and also substantially reduced levels of proviral DNA in lymph nodes and gastrointestinal mucosa as compared with treatment at later time points. In addition, treatment on day 3 abrogated the induction of SIV-specific humoral and cellular immune responses. Nevertheless, after discontinuation of ART following 24 weeks of fully suppressive therapy, virus rebounded in all animals, although the monkeys that were treated on day 3 exhibited a delayed viral rebound as compared with those treated on days 7, 10 and 14. The time to viral rebound correlated with total viraemia during acute infection and with proviral DNA at the time of ART discontinuation. These data demonstrate that the viral reservoir is seeded rapidly after intrarectal SIV infection of rhesus monkeys, during the‘eclipse’ phase, and before detectable viraemia. This strikingly early seeding of the refractory viral reservoir raises important new challenges for HIV-1 eradication strategies.

  • Structure of the DDB1–CRBN E3 ubiquitin ligase in complex with thalidomide

  • The crystal structures of thalidomide and its derivatives bound to the E3 ligase subcomplex DDB1–CRBN are shown; these drugs are found to have dual functions, interfering with the binding of certain cellular substrates to the E3 ligase but promoting the binding of others, thereby modulating the degradation of cellular proteins.

  • Enhancer loops appear stable during development and are associated with paused polymerase

  • Developmental enhancers initiate transcription and are fundamental to our understanding of developmental networks, evolution and disease. Despite their importance, the properties governing enhancer–promoter interactions and their dynamics during embryogenesis remain unclear. At the β-globin locus, enhancer–promoter interactions appear dynamic and cell-type specific, whereas at the HoxD locus they are stable and ubiquitous, being present in tissues where the target genes are not expressed. The extent to which preformed enhancer–promoter conformations exist at other, more typical, loci and how transcription is eventually triggered is unclear. Here we generated a high-resolution map of enhancer three-dimensional contacts during Drosophila embryogenesis, covering two developmental stages and tissue contexts, at unprecedented resolution. Although local regulatory interactions are common, long-range interactions are highly prevalent within the compact Drosophila genome. Each enhancer contacts multiple enhancers, and promoters with similar expression, suggesting a role in their co-regulation. Notably, most interactions appear unchanged between tissue context and across development, arising before gene activation, and are frequently associated with paused RNA polymerase. Our results indicate that the general topology governing enhancer contacts is conserved from flies to humans and suggest that transcription initiates from preformed enhancer–promoter loops through release of paused polymerase.

  • Negative regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by A20 protects against arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoinflammatory disease that affects 1–2% of the world’s population and is characterized by widespread joint inflammation. Interleukin-1 is an important mediator of cartilage destruction in rheumatic diseases, but our understanding of the upstream mechanisms leading to production of interleukin-1β in rheumatoid arthritis is limited by the absence of suitable mouse models of the disease in which inflammasomes contribute to pathology. Myeloid-cell-specific deletion of the rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility gene A20/Tnfaip3 in mice (A20myel-KO mice) triggers a spontaneous erosive polyarthritis that resembles rheumatoid arthritis in patients. Rheumatoid arthritis in A20myel-KO mice is not rescued by deletion of tumour necrosis factor receptor 1 (ref. 2). Here we show, however, that it crucially relies on the Nlrp3 inflammasome and interleukin-1 receptor signalling. Macrophages lacking A20 have increased basal and lipopolysaccharide-induced expression levels of the inflammasome adaptor Nlrp3 and proIL-1β. As a result, A20-deficiency in macrophages significantly enhances Nlrp3 inflammasome-mediated caspase-1 activation, pyroptosis and interleukin-1β secretion by soluble and crystalline Nlrp3 stimuli. In contrast, activation of the Nlrc4 and AIM2 inflammasomes is not altered. Importantly, increased Nlrp3 inflammasome activation contributes to the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis in vivo, because deletion of Nlrp3, caspase-1 and the interleukin-1 receptor markedly protects against rheumatoid-arthritis-associated inflammation and cartilage destruction in A20myel-KO mice. These results reveal A20 as a novel negative regulator of Nlrp3 inflammasome activation, and describe A20myel-KO mice as the first experimental model to study the role of inflammasomes in the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Neuropathy of haematopoietic stem cell niche is essential for myeloproliferative neoplasms

  • Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are diseases caused by mutations in the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment. Most MPN patients have a common acquired mutation of Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) gene in HSCs that renders this kinase constitutively active, leading to uncontrolled cell expansion. The bone marrow microenvironment might contribute to the clinical outcomes of this common event. We previously showed that bone marrow nestin+ mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) innervated by sympathetic nerve fibres regulate normal HSCs. Here we demonstrate that abrogation of this regulatory circuit is essential for MPN pathogenesis. Sympathetic nerve fibres, supporting Schwann cells and nestin+ MSCs are consistently reduced in the bone marrow of MPN patients and mice expressing the human JAK2(V617F) mutation in HSCs. Unexpectedly, MSC reduction is not due to differentiation but is caused by bone marrow neural damage and Schwann cell death triggered by interleukin-1β produced by mutant HSCs. In turn, in vivo depletion of nestin+ cells or their production of CXCL12 expanded mutant HSC number and accelerated MPN progression. In contrast, administration of neuroprotective or sympathomimetic drugs prevented mutant HSC expansion. Treatment with β3-adrenergic agonists that restored the sympathetic regulation of nestin+ MSCs prevented the loss of these cells and blocked MPN progression by indirectly reducing the number of leukaemic stem cells. Our results demonstrate that mutant-HSC-driven niche damage critically contributes to disease manifestation in MPN and identify niche-forming MSCs and their neural regulation as promising therapeutic targets.

  • Visualizing the kinetic power stroke that drives proton-coupled zinc(ii) transport

  • The proton gradient is a principal energy source for respiration-dependent active transport, but the structural mechanisms of proton-coupled transport processes are poorly understood. YiiP is a proton-coupled zinc transporter found in the cytoplasmic membrane of Escherichia coli. Its transport site receives protons from water molecules that gain access to its hydrophobic environment and transduces the energy of an inward proton gradient to drive Zn(ii) efflux. This membrane protein is a well-characterized member of the family of cation diffusion facilitators that occurs at all phylogenetic levels. Here we show, using X-ray-mediated hydroxyl radical labelling of YiiP and mass spectrometry, that Zn(ii) binding triggers a highly localized, all-or-nothing change of water accessibility to the transport site and an adjacent hydrophobic gate. Millisecond time-resolved dynamics reveal a concerted and reciprocal pattern of accessibility changes along a transmembrane helix, suggesting a rigid-body helical re-orientation linked to Zn(ii) binding that triggers the closing of the hydrophobic gate. The gated water access to the transport site enables a stationary proton gradient to facilitate the conversion of zinc-binding energy to the kinetic power stroke of a vectorial zinc transport. The kinetic details provide energetic insights into a proton-coupled active-transport reaction.

  • PVT1 dependence in cancer with MYC copy-number increase

  • ‘Gain’ of supernumerary copies of the 8q24.21 chromosomal region has been shown to be common in many human cancers and is associated with poor prognosis. The well-characterized myelocytomatosis (MYC) oncogene resides in the 8q24.21 region and is consistently co-gained with an adjacent ‘gene desert’ of approximately 2 megabases that contains the long non-coding RNA gene PVT1, the CCDC26 gene candidate and the GSDMC gene. Whether low copy-number gain of one or more of these genes drives neoplasia is not known. Here we use chromosome engineering in mice to show that a single extra copyof either the Myc gene or the region encompassing Pvt1, Ccdc26 and Gsdmc fails to advance cancer measurably, whereas a single supernumerary segment encompassing all four genes successfully promotes cancer. Gain of PVT1 long non-coding RNA expression was required for high MYC protein levels in 8q24-amplified human cancer cells. PVT1 RNA and MYC protein expression correlated in primary human tumours, and copy number of PVT1 was co-increased in more than 98% of MYC-copy-increase cancers. Ablation of PVT1 from MYC-driven colon cancer line HCT116 diminished its tumorigenic potency. As MYC protein has been refractory to small-molecule inhibition, the dependence of high MYC protein levels on PVT1 long non-coding RNA provides a much needed therapeutic target.

  • Quantum computing: Powered by magic

  • What gives quantum computers that extra oomph over their classical digital counterparts? An intrinsic, measurable aspect of quantum mechanics called contextuality, it now emerges.

  • Cancer: Natural-born killers unleashed

  • The finding that phosphoinositide-3-OH kinaseδ restrains the antitumour immune response by promoting the action of suppressive immune cells may broaden the applicability of drugs targeting this enzyme to multiple cancers.

  • Contextuality supplies the‘magic’ for quantum computation

  • Quantum computing promises advantages over classical computing for certain problems; now‘quantum contextuality’ — a generalization of the concept of quantum non-locality — is shown to be a critical resource that gives the most promising class of quantum computers their power.

  • The genome of Eucalyptus grandis

  • The Eucalyptus grandis genome has been sequenced, revealing the greatest number of tandem duplications of any plant genome sequenced so far, and the highest diversity of genes for specialized metabolites that act as chemical defence and provide unique pharmaceutical oils; genome sequencing of the sister species E. globulus and a set of inbred E. grandis tree genomes reveals dynamic genome evolution and hotspots of inbreeding depression.

  • Single-cell RNA-seq reveals dynamic paracrine control of cellular variation

  • Large-scale single-cell RNA-seq of stimulated primary mouse bone-marrow-derived dendritic cells highlights positive and negative intercellular signalling pathways that promote and restrain cellular variation.

  • Inactivation of PI(3)K p110δ breaks regulatory T-cell-mediated immune tolerance to cancer

  • Inhibitors against the p110δ isoform of phosphoinositide-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) have shown remarkable therapeutic efficacy in some human leukaemias. As p110δ is primarily expressed in leukocytes, drugs against p110δ have not been considered for the treatment of solid tumours. Here we report that p110δ inactivation in mice protects against a broad range of cancers, including non-haematological solid tumours. We demonstrate that p110δ inactivation in regulatory T cells unleashes CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and induces tumour regression. Thus, p110δ inhibitors can break tumour-induced immune tolerance and should be considered for wider use in oncology.

  • Population health: Immaturity in the gut microbial community

  • Undernourished children fall behind not only on growth, but also on maturation of their intestinal bacterial communities, according to a study comparing acutely malnourished and healthy Bangladeshi children.

  • Cell biology: Balancing act

  • The enzyme parkin is known to promote disposal of organelles called mitochondria that have suffered damage. The identification of an enzyme that opposes parkin demonstrates how a delicate balance is maintained in the cell.

  • The mitochondrial deubiquitinase USP30 opposes parkin-mediated mitophagy

  • Damaged mitochondria are removed by mitophagy, and defects in mitophagy are linked to Parkinson’s disease; here it is shown that USP30, a deubiquitinase localized to mitochondria, antagonizes mitophagy by removing the ubiquitin tags put in place by Parkin, USP30 inhibition is therefore potentially beneficial for Parkinson’s disease by promoting mitochondrial clearance and quality control.

  • Persistent gut microbiota immaturity in malnourished Bangladeshi children

  • Therapeutic food interventions have reduced mortality in children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but incomplete restoration of healthy growth remains a major problem. The relationships between the type of nutritional intervention, the gut microbiota, and therapeutic responses are unclear. In the current study, bacterial species whose proportional representation define a healthy gut microbiota as it assembles during the first two postnatal years were identified by applying a machine-learning-based approach to 16S ribosomal RNA data sets generated from monthly faecal samples obtained from birth onwards in a cohort of children living in an urban slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who exhibited consistently healthy growth. These age-discriminatory bacterial species were incorporated into a model that computes a‘relative microbiota maturity index’ and ‘microbiota-for-age Z-score’ that compare postnatal assembly (defined here as maturation) of a child’s faecal microbiota relative to healthy children of similar chronologic age. The model was applied to twins and triplets (to test for associations of these indices with genetic and environmental factors, including diarrhoea), children with SAM enrolled in a randomized trial of two food interventions, and children with moderate acute malnutrition. Our results indicate that SAM is associated with significant relative microbiota immaturity that is only partially ameliorated following two widely used nutritional interventions. Immaturity is also evident in less severe forms of malnutrition and correlates with anthropometric measurements. Microbiota maturity indices provide a microbial measure of human postnatal development, a way of classifying malnourished states, and a parameter for judging therapeutic efficacy. More prolonged interventions with existing or new therapeutic foods and/or addition of gut microbes may be needed to achieve enduring repair of gut microbiota immaturity in childhood malnutrition and improve clinical outcomes.

  • Genome-scale functional characterization of Drosophila developmental enhancers in vivo

  • Transcriptional enhancers are crucial regulators of gene expression and animal development and the characterization of their genomic organization, spatiotemporal activities and sequence properties is a key goal in modern biology. Here we characterize the in vivo activity of 7,705 Drosophila melanogaster enhancer candidates covering 13.5% of the non-coding non-repetitive genome throughout embryogenesis. 3,557 (46%) candidates are active, suggesting a high density with 50,000 to 100,000 developmental enhancers genome-wide. The vast majority of enhancers display specific spatial patterns that are highly dynamic during development. Most appear to regulate their neighbouring genes, suggesting that the cis-regulatory genome is organized locally into domains, which are supported by chromosomal domains, insulator binding and genome evolution. However, 12 to 21 per cent of enhancers appear to skip non-expressed neighbours and regulate a more distal gene. Finally, we computationally identify cis-regulatory motifs that are predictive and required for enhancer activity, as we validate experimentally. This work provides global insights into the organization of an animal regulatory genome and the make-up of enhancer sequences and confirms and generalizes principles from previous studies. All enhancer patterns are annotated manually with a controlled vocabulary and all results are available through a web interface (http://enhancers.starklab.org), including the raw images of all microscopy slides for manual inspection at arbitrary zoom levels.

  • mTORC1 controls the adaptive transition of quiescent stem cells from G0 to GAlert

  • A unique property of many adult stem cells is their ability to exist in a non-cycling, quiescent state. Although quiescence serves an essential role in preserving stem cell function until the stem cell is needed in tissue homeostasis or repair, defects in quiescence can lead to an impairment in tissue function. The extent to which stem cells can regulate quiescence is unknown. Here we show that the stem cell quiescent state is composed of two distinct functional phases, G0 and an‘alert’ phase we term GAlert. Stem cells actively and reversibly transition between these phases in response to injury-induced systemic signals. Using genetic mouse models specific to muscle stem cells (or satellite cells), we show that mTORC1 activity is necessary and sufficient for the transition of satellite cells from G0 into GAlert and that signalling through the HGF receptor cMet is also necessary. We also identify G0-to-GAlert transitions in several populations of quiescent stem cells. Quiescent stem cells that transition into GAlert possess enhanced tissue regenerative function. We propose that the transition of quiescent stem cells into GAlert functions as an ‘alerting’ mechanism, an adaptive response that positions stem cells to respond rapidly under conditions of injury and stress, priming them for cell cycle entry.

  • The metaboliteα-ketoglutarate extends lifespan by inhibiting ATP synthase and TOR

  • Metabolism and ageing are intimately linked. Compared with ad libitum feeding, dietary restriction consistently extends lifespan and delays age-related diseases in evolutionarily diverse organisms. Similar conditions of nutrient limitation and genetic or pharmacological perturbations of nutrient or energy metabolism also have longevity benefits. Recently, several metabolites have been identified that modulate ageing; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this are largely undefined. Here we show thatα-ketoglutarate (α-KG), a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate, extends the lifespan of adult Caenorhabditis elegans. ATP synthase subunit β is identified as a novel binding protein of α-KG using a small-molecule target identification strategy termed drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS). The ATP synthase, also known as complex V of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, is the main cellular energy-generating machinery and is highly conserved throughout evolution. Although complete loss of mitochondrial function is detrimental, partial suppression of the electron transport chain has been shown to extend C. elegans lifespan. We show that α-KG inhibits ATP synthase and, similar to ATP synthase knockdown, inhibition by α-KG leads to reduced ATP content, decreased oxygen consumption, and increased autophagy in both C. elegans and mammalian cells. We provide evidence that the lifespan increase by α-KG requires ATP synthase subunit β and is dependent on target of rapamycin (TOR) downstream. Endogenous α-KG levels are increased on starvation and α-KG does not extend the lifespan of dietary-restricted animals, indicating that α-KG is a key metabolite that mediates longevity by dietary restriction. Our analyses uncover new molecular links between a common metabolite, a universal cellular energy generator and dietary restriction in the regulation of organismal lifespan, thus suggesting new strategies for the prevention and treatment of ageing and age-related diseases.

  • Ribosomal oxygenases are structurally conserved from prokaryotes to humans

  • 2-Oxoglutarate (2OG)-dependent oxygenases have important roles in the regulation of gene expression via demethylation of N-methylated chromatin components and in the hydroxylation of transcription factors and splicing factor proteins. Recently, 2OG-dependent oxygenases that catalyse hydroxylation of transfer RNA and ribosomal proteins have been shown to be important in translation relating to cellular growth, TH17-cell differentiation and translational accuracy. The finding that ribosomal oxygenases (ROXs) occur in organisms ranging from prokaryotes to humans raises questions as to their structural and evolutionary relationships. In Escherichia coli, YcfD catalyses arginine hydroxylation in the ribosomal protein L16; in humans, MYC-induced nuclear antigen (MINA53; also known as MINA) and nucleolar protein 66 (NO66) catalyse histidine hydroxylation in the ribosomal proteins RPL27A and RPL8, respectively. The functional assignments of ROXs open therapeutic possibilities via either ROX inhibition or targeting of differentially modified ribosomes. Despite differences in the residue and protein selectivities of prokaryotic and eukaryotic ROXs, comparison of the crystal structures of E. coli YcfD and Rhodothermus marinus YcfD with those of human MINA53 and NO66 reveals highly conserved folds and novel dimerization modes defining a new structural subfamily of 2OG-dependent oxygenases. ROX structures with and without their substrates support their functional assignments as hydroxylases but not demethylases, and reveal how the subfamily has evolved to catalyse the hydroxylation of different residue side chains of ribosomal proteins. Comparison of ROX crystal structures with those of other JmjC-domain-containing hydroxylases, including the hypoxia-inducible factor asparaginyl hydroxylase FIH and histone Nε-methyl lysine demethylases, identifies branch points in 2OG-dependent oxygenase evolution and distinguishes between JmjC-containing hydroxylases and demethylases catalysing modifications of translational and transcriptional machinery. The structures reveal that new protein hydroxylation activities can evolve by changing the coordination position from which the iron-bound substrate-oxidizing species reacts. This coordination flexibility has probably contributed to the evolution of the wide range of reactions catalysed by oxygenases.

  • CFIm25 links alternative polyadenylation to glioblastoma tumour suppression

  • The global shortening of messenger RNAs through alternative polyadenylation (APA) that occurs during enhanced cellular proliferation represents an important, yet poorly understood mechanism of regulated gene expression. The 3′ untranslated region (UTR) truncation of growth-promoting mRNA transcripts that relieves intrinsic microRNA- and AU-rich-element-mediated repression has been observed to correlate with cellular transformation; however, the importance to tumorigenicity of RNA 3′-end-processing factors that potentially govern APA is unknown. Here we identify CFIm25 as a broad repressor of proximal poly(A) site usage that, when depleted, increases cell proliferation. Applying a regression model on standard RNA-sequencing data for novel APA events, we identified at least 1,450 genes with shortened 3′ UTRs after CFIm25 knockdown, representing 11% of significantly expressed mRNAs in human cells. Marked increases in the expression of several known oncogenes, including cyclin D1, are observed as a consequence of CFIm25 depletion. Importantly, we identified a subset of CFIm25-regulated APA genes with shortened 3′ UTRs in glioblastoma tumours that have reduced CFIm25 expression. Downregulation of CFIm25 expression in glioblastoma cells enhances their tumorigenic properties and increases tumour size, whereas CFIm25 overexpression reduces these properties and inhibits tumour growth. These findings identify a pivotal role of CFIm25 in governing APA and reveal a previously unknown connection between CFIm25 and glioblastoma tumorigenicity.

  • Co-opting sulphur-carrier proteins from primary metabolic pathways for 2-thiosugar biosynthesis

  • Sulphur is an essential element for life and is ubiquitous in living systems. Yet how the sulphur atom is incorporated into many sulphur-containing secondary metabolites is poorly understood. For bond formation between carbon and sulphur in primary metabolites, the major ionic sulphur sources are the persulphide and thiocarboxylate groups on sulphur-carrier (donor) proteins. Each group is post-translationally generated through the action of a specific activating enzyme. In all reported bacterial cases, the gene encoding the enzyme that catalyses the carbon–sulphur bond formation reaction and that encoding the cognate sulphur-carrier protein exist in the same gene cluster. To study the production of the 2-thiosugar moiety in BE-7585A, an antibiotic from Amycolatopsis orientalis, we identified a putative 2-thioglucose synthase, BexX, whose protein sequence and mode of action seem similar to those of ThiG, the enzyme that catalyses thiazole formation in thiamine biosynthesis. However, no gene encoding a sulphur-carrier protein could be located in the BE-7585A cluster. Subsequent genome sequencing uncovered a few genes encoding sulphur-carrier proteins that are probably involved in the biosynthesis of primary metabolites but only one activating enzyme gene in the A. orientalis genome. Further experiments showed that this activating enzyme can adenylate each of these sulphur-carrier proteins and probably also catalyses the subsequent thiolation, through its rhodanese domain. A proper combination of these sulphur-delivery systems is effective for BexX-catalysed 2-thioglucose production. The ability of BexX to selectively distinguish sulphur-carrier proteins is given a structural basis using X-ray crystallography. This study is, to our knowledge, the first complete characterization of thiosugar formation in nature and also demonstrates the receptor promiscuity of the A. orientalis sulphur-delivery system. Our results also show that co-opting the sulphur-delivery machinery of primary metabolism for the biosynthesis of sulphur-containing natural products is probably a general strategy found in nature.

  • PTEN action in leukaemia dictated by the tissue microenvironment

  • PTEN encodes a lipid phosphatase that is underexpressed in many cancers owing to deletions, mutations or gene silencing. PTEN dephosphorylates phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-triphosphate, thereby opposing the activity of class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases that mediate growth- and survival-factor signalling through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase effectors such as AKT and mTOR. To determine whether continued PTEN inactivation is required to maintain malignancy, here we generate an RNA interference-based transgenic mouse model that allows tetracycline-dependent regulation of PTEN in a time- and tissue-specific manner. Postnatal Pten knockdown in the haematopoietic compartment produced highly disseminated T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Notably, reactivation of PTEN mainly reduced T-cell leukaemia dissemination but had little effect on tumour load in haematopoietic organs. Leukaemia infiltration into the intestine was dependent on CCR9 G-protein-coupled receptor signalling, which was amplified by PTEN loss. Our results suggest that in the absence of PTEN, G-protein-coupled receptors may have an unanticipated role in driving tumour growth and invasion in an unsupportive environment. They further reveal that the role of PTEN loss in tumour maintenance is not invariant and can be influenced by the tissue microenvironment, thereby producing a form of intratumoral heterogeneity that is independent of cancer genotype.
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