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Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
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  • Current Issue of Nature

    Nature - Issue - science feeds

  • The way forward is through Paris

  • Leaders must come together on a solid agreement at the United Nations climate conference— and then get to work at home by meeting commitments and finding new ways to reduce emissions.

  • Built on trust

  • Written agreements between parties in research collaborations are not a sign of a lack of faith.

  • Drugs on demand

  • Controversy in Brazil over access to a purported cancer cure could set a harmful precedent.

  • A‘perfect’ agreement in Paris is not essential

  • Success at the latest climate talks will be a recognition by the world’s nations that incremental change will not do the job, says Johan Rockström.

  • Zoology: Mollusc sees with its shell

  • A marine mollusc has hundreds of eyes in its armour that can see images.Christine Ortiz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and her colleagues studied the structural, optical and mechanical properties of the eyes of Acanthopleura granulata (pictured) using various experimental

  • Metabolism: Gastric surgery alters sweet tooth

  • Some weight-loss surgeries can diminish cravings for sweets by altering the brain's response to the neurotransmitter dopamine.Ivan de Araujo of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and his colleagues studied the effects of a duodenal–jejunal bypass, which reroutes food from the stomach directly into

  • Ecology: Toads saved from killer fungus

  • Biologists have rid a wild toad species of a lethal fungal disease that threatens amphibians around the world.The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis has wiped out many species of frogs and toads. Jaime Bosch at Spain's National Museum of Natural History in Madrid and

  • Hydrology: Snow-fed water supply threatened

  • The southwestern United States, the Iberian Peninsula and parts of the Middle East and other regions are at risk of seasonal water shortages resulting from decreasing snowfall in a warming climate.Justin Mankin at Columbia University in New York and his colleagues looked at projections

  • Nutrition: Personalized diets for health

  • People who eat identical meals display different blood glucose levels afterwards, thanks in part to differences in their gut microbes.Large spikes in blood glucose after eating increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, so dietary guidelines rank foods based on their glycaemic index—

  • Quantum metrology: Lasers reveal quantum jitters

  • Ultrafast laser pulses can be used to detect the motion of a single atom, from energetic wiggles to quantum jitters.Kale Johnson at the University of Maryland in College Park and his colleagues trapped ions of ytterbium and zapped them with laser pulses just 10

  • Bioelectronics: Flower given digital power

  • Researchers have incorporated electronic circuitry into the tissues of a rose.Magnus Berggren at Linköping University in Norrköping, Sweden, and his colleagues submerged the cut end of a rose stem into a water-based solution of PEDOT, a conducting polymer that is used in printable electronics.

  • Agricultural ecology: Complex effects of pesticides on bees

  • Honeybee colonies could be compensating for the harmful effects of certain pesticides by producing more workers, at least in the short term.Some European countries banned neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013, but this remains controversial because field studies have failed to confirm the adverse effects reported

  • Planetary science: Martian moon will break apart

  • Phobos, one of Mars's two moons, will disintegrate some 20 million to 40 million years from now, and its particles will form the only planetary ring in the inner Solar System.Benjamin Black and Tushar Mittal of the University of California, Berkeley, made these predictions

  • Text-mining block prompts online response

  • A statistician says a major scientific publisher is hindering his research.

  • The week in science: 20–26 November 2015

  • Rare rhino dies; Ebola re-emerges in Liberia; and Pfizer–Allergan in mega-merger.

  • Salmon approval heralds rethink of transgenic animals

  • Long-awaited decision by US government authorizes the first genetically engineered animal to be sold as food.

  • Climate optimism builds ahead of Paris talks

  • Emission pledges raise hopes for an international treaty.

  • Green Climate Fund faces slew of criticism

  • First tranche of aid projects prompts concern over operations of fund for developing nations.

  • Brazilian courts tussle over unproven cancer treatment

  • Patients demand access to compound despite lack of clinical testing.

  • Leap-second decision delayed by eight years

  • Some want to scrap adjustment that keeps atomic time in sync with Earth's rotation.

  • 'Digital chimp' trove preserves brains of retired apes

  • NIH to fund a cache of brain tissue and online data in place of live-animal experimentation.

  • All together now

  • After 25 years of negotiations, all countries are finally set to take steps to limit global warming. A special issue examines the path to the Paris climate summit, and the road beyond.

  • The fragile framework

  • A Nature comic examines the 25-year quest for a climate treaty. Can nations unite to save Earth’s climate?

  • Is the 2 °C world a fantasy?

  • Countries have pledged to limit global warming to 2 °C, and climate models say that is still possible. But only with heroic — and unlikely — efforts.

  • Global climate agreement: After the talks

  • The real business of decarbonization begins after an agreement is signed at the Paris climate conference, argue David G. Victor and James P. Leape.

  • Materials science: Share corrosion data

  • To prevent disasters, Xiaogang Li and colleagues call for open data infrastructures to collate information on materials failures.

  • Sustainability: The launch of Spaceship Earth

  • Adam Rome revisits five prescient classics that first made sustainability a public issue in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • Books in brief

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

  • Gene editing: Heed disability views

  • CRISPR–Cas9 is a gene-editing tool of great potential, although not necessarily from a disability-rights perspective (see D. J. H.Mathewset al. Nature527, 159–161; 201510.1038/527159a). People with disabilities are, in my view, unlikely to be queuing up

  • Gene editing: Govern ability expectations

  • From a disability-rights viewpoint, problems that have dogged the debate on human genetic modification (see also pervade your curtain-raiser to the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine conference (see D. J. H.Mathewset al. Nature527, 159–

  • Gene editing: Survey invites opinions

  • As the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine summit on the regulation of CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing tools gets under way, we invite readers to contribute their opinions about this technology and its use to a survey at engagement in decisions about

  • Climate change also creates expatriates

  • I visited the island of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean three decades ago as the environmental assessor for an aid-funded engineering consultancy. Pollution of the freshwater lens and scavenging of protective shoreline coral rubble for construction were problems even then. As you note (see Nature

  • Crowdfunding not fit for clinical trials

  • Crowdfunding can raise money quickly and with minimal bureaucracy. But it should not be considered as a way to finance clinical trials because of potential ethical implications.One problem is that funding recipients are not accountable to the public because crowdfunding is unregulated. Another is

  • Lessons from EPA on tracking pollutants

  • In our opinion, China could learn from the success of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in providing open-access environmental information to the public. This would enhance the credibility of government decisions.The EPA's Toxics Release Inventory programme, in partnership with state agencies, collects data

  • Mental health: The mindful way

  • The art of mindfulness offers benefits not only for scientists' mental health, but also for their work performance.

  • Turning point: Jason Lunden

  • A researcher who studies autism-like behaviour in mice takes inspiration from his own condition.

  • Claimed

  • First contact.

  • Correction

  • The Comment article 'Einstein was no lone genius' (M.Janssen and J.RennNature527, 298–300; 2015 ) wrongly stated the dates during which Albert Einstein studied at the Swiss Federal Polytechnical School in Zurich. He was there

  • Genomics: Acorn worms in a nutshell

  • The genome sequences of two members of the hemichordate group of marine invertebrates bring the evolution of their relatives, including vertebrates, into sharper focus. See Article p.459

  • Circadian clocks: A receptor for subtle temperature changes

  • The protein IR25a is best known for its role as an odour receptor in flies, but an analysis reveals that it also acts to synchronize the circadian clock by sensing small temperature fluctuations. See Letter p.516

  • Imaging techniques: Super-resolution ultrasound

  • By infusing blood vessels with gas-filled microbubbles and using rapid ultrasound imaging to detect the bubbles, super-resolution imaging of an entire vessel system has been achieved in a rat brain. See Letter p.499

  • Cell fate: Transition loses its invasive edge

  • Two studies provide evidence that epithelial tumour cells do not need to transition to a mesenchymal-cell state to form metastases, but that this process does contribute to drug resistance. See Article p.472 aamp; Letter p.525

  • Ebola: Hidden reservoirs

  • West Africa's Ebola epidemic continues to reveal surprises. Although the animal species that originally passed the virus to people remains a mystery, a virus reservoir and persistent disease have been identified in some human survivors.

  • 50 aamp; 100 Years Ago

  • 50 Years AgoThe use of rubber gloves during surgical operations became general about 1900 ... The object of an investigation was to obtain an estimation of how frequently wound infection originates from bacteria on the hands of operating staff ... Examination of the wounds

  • Planetary science: The Moon's tilt for gold

  • The Moon's current orbit is at odds with theories predicting that its early orbit was in Earth's equatorial plane. Simulations now suggest that its orbit was tilted by gravitational interactions with a few large bodies. See Letter p.492

  • Blindness: Assassins of eyesight

  • A molecular cascade involving the transcription factor SIX6 and its target gene p16INK4a causes the death of neurons that link the eye to the brain. This discovery deepens our understanding of a common form of blindness, glaucoma.

  • Correction

  • The News aamp; Views article 'Rehabilitation: Boost for movement' by Randolph J. Nudo (Nature527, 314–315; 2015) omitted to mention that the author has declared competing financial interests. Details are available in the online version of the article.

  • Hemichordate genomes and deuterostome origins

  • Acorn worms, also known as enteropneust (literally,‘gut-breathing’) hemichordates, are marine invertebrates that share features with echinoderms and chordates. Together, these three phyla comprise the deuterostomes. Here we report the draft genome sequences of two acorn worms, Saccoglossus kowalevskii and Ptychodera flava. By

  • A perisinusoidal niche for extramedullary haematopoiesis in the spleen

  • Haematopoietic stresses mobilize haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the bone marrow to the spleen and induce extramedullary haematopoiesis (EMH). However, the cellular nature of the EMH niche is unknown. Here we assessed the sources of the key niche factors, SCF (also known as KITL) and

  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is not required for lung metastasis but contributes to chemoresistance

  • The role of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in metastasis is a longstanding source of debate, largely owing to an inability to monitor transient and reversible EMT phenotypes in vivo. Here we establish an EMT lineage-tracing system to monitor this process in mice, using a mesenchymal-specific

  • Allosteric ligands for the pharmacologically dark receptors GPR68 and GPR65

  • At least 120 non-olfactory G-protein-coupled receptors in the human genome are‘orphans’ for which endogenous ligands are unknown, and many have no selective ligands, hindering the determination of their biological functions and clinical relevance. Among these is GPR68, a proton receptor that lacks small molecule

  • Extremely metal-poor stars from the cosmic dawn in the bulge of the Milky Way

  • The first stars are predicted to have formed within 200 million years after the Big Bang, initiating the cosmic dawn. A true first star has not yet been discovered, although stars with tiny amounts of elements heavier than helium (‘metals’) have been found in the outer regions (‘halo’) of the Milky Way. The first stars and their immediate successors should, however, preferentially be found today in the central regions (‘bulges’) of galaxies, because they formed in the largest over-densities that grew gravitationally with time. The Milky Way bulge underwent a rapid chemical enrichment during the first 1–2 billion years, leading to a dearth of early, metal-poor stars. Here we report observations of extremely metal-poor stars in the Milky Way bulge, including one star with an iron abundance about 10,000 times lower than the solar value without noticeable carbon enhancement. We confirm that most of the metal-poor bulge stars are on tight orbits around the Galactic Centre, rather than being halo stars passing through the bulge, as expected for stars formed at redshifts greater than 15. Their chemical compositions are in general similar to typical halo stars of the same metallicity although intriguing differences exist, including lower abundances of carbon.

  • Ubiquitous time variability of integrated stellar populations

  • Long-period variable stars arise in the final stages of the asymptotic giant branch phase of stellar evolution. They have periods of up to about 1,000 days and amplitudes that can exceed a factor of three in the I-band flux. These stars pulsate predominantly in their fundamental mode, which is a function of mass and radius, and so the pulsation periods are sensitive to the age of the underlying stellar population. The overall number of long-period variables in a population is directly related to their lifetimes, which is difficult to predict from first principles because of uncertainties associated with stellar mass-loss and convective mixing. The time variability of these stars has not previously been taken into account when modelling the spectral energy distributions of galaxies. Here we construct time-dependent stellar population models that include the effects of long-period variable stars, and report the ubiquitous detection of this expected‘pixel shimmer’ in the massive metal-rich galaxy M87. The pixel light curves display a variety of behaviours. The observed variation of 0.1 to 1 per cent is very well matched to the predictions of our models. The data provide a strong constraint on the properties of variable stars in an old andmetal-rich stellar population, and we infer that the lifetime of long-period variables in M87 is shorter by approximately 30 per cent compared to predictions from the latest stellar evolution models.

  • Collisionless encounters and the origin of the lunar inclination

  • The Moon is generally thought to have formed from the debris ejected by the impact of a planet-sized object with the proto-Earth towards the end of planetary accretion. Models of the impact process predict that the lunar material was disaggregated into a circumplanetary disk and that lunar accretion subsequently placed the Moon in a near-equatorial orbit. Forward integration of the lunar orbit from this initial state predicts a modern inclination at least an order of magnitude smaller than the lunar value—a long-standing discrepancy known as the lunar inclination problem. Here we show that the modern lunar orbit provides a sensitive record of gravitational interactions with Earth-crossing planetesimals that were not yet accreted at the time of the Moon-forming event. The currently observed lunar orbit can naturally be reproduced via interaction with a small quantity of mass (corresponding to 0.0075–0.015 Earth masses eventually accreted to the Earth) carried by a few bodies, consistent with the constraints and models of late accretion. Although the encounter process has a stochastic element, the observed value of the lunar inclination is among the most likely outcomes for a wide range of parameters. The excitation of the lunar orbit is most readily reproduced via collisionless encounters of planetesimals with the Earth–Moon system with strong dissipation of tidal energy on the early Earth. This mechanism obviates the need for previously proposed (but idealized) excitation mechanisms, places the Moon-forming event in the context of the formation of Earth, and constrains the pristineness of the dynamical state of the Earth–Moon system.

  • Type-II Weyl semimetals

  • Fermions—elementary particles such as electrons—are classified as Dirac, Majorana or Weyl. Majorana and Weyl fermions had not been observed experimentally until the recent discovery of condensed matter systems such as topological superconductors and semimetals, in which they arise as low-energy excitations. Here we propose the existence of a previously overlooked type of Weyl fermion that emerges at the boundary between electron and hole pockets in a new phase of matter. This particle was missed by Weyl because it breaks the stringent Lorentz symmetry in high-energy physics. Lorentz invariance, however, is not present in condensed matter physics, and by generalizing the Dirac equation, we find the new type of Weyl fermion. In particular, whereas Weyl semimetals—materials hosting Weyl fermions—were previously thought to have standard Weyl points with a point-like Fermi surface (which we refer to as type-I), we discover a type-II Weyl point, which is still a protected crossing, but appears at the contact of electron and hole pockets in type-II Weyl semimetals. We predict that WTe2 is an example of a topological semimetal hosting the new particle as a low-energy excitation around such a type-II Weyl point. The existence of type-II Weyl points in WTe2 means that many of its physical properties are very different to those of standard Weyl semimetals with point-like Fermi surfaces.

  • Ultrafast ultrasound localization microscopy for deep super-resolution vascular imaging

  • Non-invasive imaging deep into organs at microscopic scales remains an open quest in biomedical imaging. Although optical microscopy is still limited to surface imaging owing to optical wave diffusion and fast decorrelation in tissue, revolutionary approaches such as fluorescence photo-activated localization microscopy led to a striking increase in resolution by more than an order of magnitude in the last decade. In contrast with optics, ultrasonic waves propagate deep into organs without losing their coherence and are much less affected by in vivo decorrelation processes. However, their resolution is impeded by the fundamental limits of diffraction, which impose a long-standing trade-off between resolution and penetration. This limits clinical and preclinical ultrasound imaging to a sub-millimetre scale. Here we demonstrate in vivo that ultrasound imaging at ultrafast frame rates (more than 500 frames per second) provides an analogue to optical localization microscopy by capturing the transient signal decorrelation of contrast agents—inert gas microbubbles. Ultrafast ultrasound localization microscopy allowed both non-invasive sub-wavelength structural imaging and haemodynamic quantification of rodent cerebral microvessels (less than ten micrometres in diameter) more than ten millimetres below the tissue surface, leading to transcranial whole-brain imaging within short acquisition times (tens of seconds). After intravenous injection, single echoes from individual microbubbles were detected through ultrafast imaging. Their localization, not limited by diffraction, was accumulated over 75,000 images, yielding 1,000,000 events per coronal plane and statistically independent pixels of ten micrometres in size. Precise temporal tracking of microbubble positions allowed us to extract accurately in-plane velocities of the blood flow with a large dynamic range (from one millimetre per second to several centimetres per second). These results pave the way for deep non-invasive microscopy in animals and humans using ultrasound. We anticipate that ultrafast ultrasound localization microscopy may become an invaluable tool for the fundamental understanding and diagnostics of various disease processes that modify the microvascular blood flow, such as cancer, stroke and arteriosclerosis.

  • Extra adsorption and adsorbate superlattice formation in metal-organic frameworks

  • Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have a high internal surface area and widely tunable composition, which make them useful for applications involving adsorption, such as hydrogen, methane or carbon dioxide storage. The selectivity and uptake capacity of the adsorption process are determined by interactions involving the adsorbates and their porous host materials. But, although the interactions of adsorbate molecules with the internal MOF surface and also amongst themselves within individual pores have been extensively studied, adsorbate–adsorbate interactions across pore walls have not been explored. Here we show that local strain in the MOF, induced by pore filling, can give rise to collective and long-range adsorbate–adsorbate interactions and the formation of adsorbate superlattices that extend beyond an original MOF unit cell. Specifically, we use in situ small-angle X-ray scattering to track and map the distribution and ordering of adsorbate molecules in five members of the mesoporous MOF-74 series along entire adsorption–desorption isotherms. We find in all cases that the capillary condensation that fills the pores gives rise to the formation of ‘extra adsorption domains’—that is, domains spanning several neighbouring pores, which have a higher adsorbate density than non-domain pores. In the case of one MOF, IRMOF-74-V-hex, these domains form a superlattice structure that is difficult to reconcile with the prevailing view of pore-filling as a stochastic process. The visualization of the adsorption process provided by our data, with clear evidence for initial adsorbate aggregation in distinct domains and ordering before an even distribution is finally reached, should help to improve our understanding of this process and may thereby improve our ability to exploit it practically.

  • Single-molecule sequencing of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum

  • Plant genomes, and eukaryotic genomes in general, are typically repetitive, polyploid and heterozygous, which complicates genome assembly. The short read lengths of early Sanger and current next-generation sequencing platforms hinder assembly through complex repeat regions, and many draft and reference genomes are fragmented, lacking skewed GC and repetitive intergenic sequences, which are gaining importance due to projects like the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE). Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and assembly of the desiccation-tolerant grass Oropetium thomaeum. Using only single-molecule real-time sequencing, which generates long (ggt;16 kilobases) reads with random errors, we assembled 99% (244 megabases) of the Oropetium genome into 625 contigs with an N50 length of 2.4 megabases. Oropetium is an example of a ‘near-complete’ draft genome which includes gapless coverage over gene space as well as intergenic sequences such as centromeres, telomeres, transposable elements and rRNA clusters that are typically unassembled in draft genomes. Oropetium has 28,466 protein-coding genes and 43% repeat sequences, yet with 30% more compact euchromatic regions it is the smallest known grass genome. The Oropetium genome demonstrates the utility of single-molecule real-time sequencing for assembling high-quality plant and other eukaryotic genomes, and serves as a valuable resource for the plant comparative genomics community.

  • Sweet and bitter taste in the brain of awake behaving animals

  • Taste is responsible for evaluating the nutritious content of food, guiding essential appetitive behaviours, preventing the ingestion of toxic substances, and helping to ensure the maintenance of a healthy diet. Sweet and bitter are two of the most salient sensory percepts for humans and other animals; sweet taste allows the identification of energy-rich nutrients whereas bitter warns against the intake of potentially noxious chemicals. In mammals, information from taste receptor cells in the tongue is transmitted through multiple neural stations to the primary gustatory cortex in the brain. Recent imaging studies have shown that sweet and bitter are represented in the primary gustatory cortex by neurons organized in a spatial map, with each taste quality encoded by distinct cortical fields. Here we demonstrate that by manipulating the brain fields representing sweet and bitter taste we directly control an animal’s internal representation, sensory perception, and behavioural actions. These results substantiate the segregation of taste qualities in the cortex, expose the innate nature of appetitive and aversive taste responses, and illustrate the ability of gustatory cortex to recapitulate complex behaviours in the absence of sensory input.

  • Drosophila Ionotropic Receptor 25a mediates circadian clock resetting by temperature

  • Circadian clocks are endogenous timers adjusting behaviour and physiology with the solar day. Synchronized circadian clocks improve fitness and are crucial for our physical and mental well-being. Visual and non-visual photoreceptors are responsible for synchronizing circadian clocks to light, but clock-resetting is also achieved by alternating day and night temperatures with only 2–4 °C difference. This temperature sensitivity is remarkable considering that the circadian clock period (~24 h) is largely independent of surrounding ambient temperatures. Here we show that Drosophila Ionotropic Receptor 25a (IR25a) is required for behavioural synchronization to low-amplitude temperature cycles. This channel is expressed in sensory neurons of internal stretch receptors previously implicated in temperature synchronization of the circadian clock. IR25a is required for temperature-synchronized clock protein oscillations in subsets of central clock neurons. Extracellular leg nerve recordings reveal temperature- and IR25a-dependent sensory responses, and IR25a misexpression confers temperature-dependent firing of heterologous neurons. We propose that IR25a is part of an input pathway to the circadian clock that detects small temperature differences. This pathway operates in the absence of known ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ sensors in the Drosophila antenna, revealing the existence of novel periphery-to-brain temperature signalling channels.

  • Fungal pathogen uses sex pheromone receptor for chemotropic sensing of host plant signals

  • For more than a century, fungal pathogens and symbionts have been known to orient hyphal growth towards chemical stimuli from the host plant. However, the nature of the plant signals as well as the mechanisms underlying the chemotropic response have remained elusive. Here we show that directed growth of the soil-inhabiting plant pathogen Fusarium oxysporum towards the roots of the host tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is triggered by the catalytic activity of secreted class III peroxidases, a family of haem-containing enzymes present in all land plants. The chemotropic response requires conserved elements of the fungal cell integrity mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade and the seven-pass transmembrane protein Ste2, a functional homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae sex pheromoneα receptor. We further show that directed hyphal growth of F. oxysporum towards nutrient sources such as sugars and amino acids is governed by a functionally distinct MAPK cascade. These results reveal a potentially conserved chemotropic mechanism in root-colonizing fungi, and suggest a new function for the fungal pheromone-sensing machinery in locating plant hosts in a complex environment such as the soil.

  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is dispensable for metastasis but induces chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer

  • Diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with a dismal prognosis despite current best therapies; therefore new treatment strategies are urgently required. Numerous studies have suggested that epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) contributes to early-stage dissemination of cancer cells and is pivotal for invasion and metastasis of PDAC. EMT is associated with phenotypic conversion of epithelial cells into mesenchymal-like cells in cell culture conditions, although such defined mesenchymal conversion (with spindle-shaped morphology) of epithelial cells in vivo is rare, with quasi-mesenchymal phenotypes occasionally observed in the tumour (partial EMT). Most studies exploring the functional role of EMT in tumours have depended on cell-culture-induced loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments involving EMT-inducing transcription factors such as Twist, Snail and Zeb1 (refs 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10). Therefore, the functional contribution of EMT to invasion and metastasis remains unclear, and genetically engineered mouse models to address a causal connection are lacking. Here we functionally probe the role of EMT in PDAC by generating mouse models of PDAC with deletion of Snail or Twist, two key transcription factors responsible for EMT. EMT suppression in the primary tumour does not alter the emergence of invasive PDAC, systemic dissemination or metastasis. Suppression of EMT leads to an increase in cancer cell proliferation with enhanced expression of nucleoside transporters in tumours, contributing to enhanced sensitivity to gemcitabine treatment and increased overall survival of mice. Collectively, our study suggests that Snail- or Twist-induced EMT is not rate-limiting for invasion and metastasis, but highlights the importance of combining EMT inhibition with chemotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

  • In situ structures of the segmented genome and RNA polymerase complex inside a dsRNA virus

  • Viruses in the Reoviridae, like the triple-shelled human rotavirus and the single-shelled insect cytoplasmic polyhedrosis virus (CPV), all package a genome of segmented double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) inside the viral capsid and carry out endogenous messenger RNA synthesis through a transcriptional enzyme complex (TEC). By direct electron-counting cryoelectron microscopy and asymmetric reconstruction, we have determined the organization of the dsRNA genome inside quiescent CPV (q-CPV) and the in situ atomic structures of TEC within CPV in both quiescent and transcribing (t-CPV) states. We show that the ten segmented dsRNAs in CPV are organized with ten TECs in a specific, non-symmetric manner, with each dsRNA segment attached directly to a TEC. The TEC consists of two extensively interacting subunits: an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) and an NTPase VP4. We find that the bracelet domain of RdRP undergoes marked conformational change when q-CPV is converted to t-CPV, leading to formation of the RNA template entry channel and access to the polymerase active site. An amino-terminal helix from each of two subunits of the capsid shell protein (CSP) interacts with VP4 and RdRP. These findings establish the link between sensing of environmental cues by the external proteins and activation of endogenous RNA transcription by the TEC inside the virus.

  • Foreign DNA capture during CRISPR–Cas adaptive immunity

  • Bacteria and archaea generate adaptive immunity against phages and plasmids by integrating foreign DNA of specific 30–40-base-pair lengths into clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) loci as spacer segments. The universally conserved Cas1–Cas2 integrase complex catalyses spacer acquisition using a direct nucleophilic integration mechanism similar to retroviral integrases and transposases. How the Cas1–Cas2 complex selects foreign DNA substrates for integration remains unknown. Here we present X-ray crystal structures of the Escherichia coli Cas1–Cas2 complex bound to cognate 33-nucleotide protospacer DNA substrates. The protein complex creates a curved binding surface spanning the length of the DNA and splays the ends of the protospacer to allow each terminal nucleophilic 3′-OH to enter a channel leading into the Cas1 active sites. Phosphodiester backbone interactions between the protospacer and the proteins explain the sequence-nonspecific substrate selection observed in vivo. Our results uncover the structural basis for foreign DNA capture and the mechanism by which Cas1–Cas2 functions as a molecular ruler to dictate the sequence architecture of CRISPR loci.

  • Endoperoxide formation by anα-ketoglutarate-dependent mononuclear non-haem iron enzyme

  • Many peroxy-containing secondary metabolites have been isolated and shown to provide beneficial effects to human health. Yet, the mechanisms of most endoperoxide biosyntheses are not well understood. Although endoperoxides have been suggested as key reaction intermediates in several cases, the only well-characterized endoperoxide biosynthetic enzyme is prostaglandin H synthase, a haem-containing enzyme. Fumitremorgin B endoperoxidase (FtmOx1) from Aspergillus fumigatus is the first reportedα-ketoglutarate-dependent mononuclear non-haem iron enzyme that can catalyse an endoperoxide formation reaction. To elucidate the mechanistic details for this unique chemical transformation, we report the X-ray crystal structures of FtmOx1 and the binary complexes it forms with either the co-substrate (α-ketoglutarate) or the substrate (fumitremorgin B). Uniquely, after α-ketoglutarate has bound to the mononuclear iron centre in a bidentate fashion, the remaining open site for oxygen binding and activation is shielded from the substrate or the solvent by a tyrosine residue (Y224). Upon replacing Y224 with alanine or phenylalanine, the FtmOx1 catalysis diverts from endoperoxide formation to the more commonly observed hydroxylation. Subsequent characterizations by a combination of stopped-flow optical absorption spectroscopy and freeze-quench electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy support the presence of transient radical species in FtmOx1 catalysis. Our results help to unravel the novel mechanism for this endoperoxide formation reaction.

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

  • Nature517, 485–488 (2015); doi:10.1038/nature13866The data matrix in the original Supplementary Data 3 of this Letter reproduced the tree topology shown in Extended Data Fig. 3 but the accompanying character descriptions did not match the coding given

  • Corrigendum: Influence maximization in complex networks through optimal percolation

  • Nature524, 65–68 (2015); doi:10.1038/nature14604In the Acknowledgements section of this Letter, ‘ARL’ should read ‘Army Research Laboratory Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-09-2-0053 (the ARL Network Science CTA)’. This has been corrected in the online versions of the paper.

  • Retraction: Non-blinking semiconductor nanocrystals

  • Nature459, 686–689 (2009); doi:10.1038/nature08072In this Letter, we reported the unusual non-blinking characteristics of the fluorescence from individual CdZnSe/ZnSe alloyed quantum dots. However, it has recently come to our attention that similar fluorescence behaviour was seen by

  • Correction

  • The Technology Feature 'Connectomes make the map' (Nature526, 147–149; 2015) misnamed the MultiSEM model and gave the wrong citation in reference 3. MultiSEM 505 should have been Zeiss MultiSEM, and ref. 3 should have referred to Zingg,

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  • Immunology: In the right place at the right time

  • Regulatory T cells help to prevent autoimmune responses. A new imaging technique reveals that activation of these cells requires clustering with self-reactive effector T cells and sensing of the signalling protein interleukin-2.

  • Structural biology: A transcriptional specialist resolved

  • Three structures of the enzyme RNA polymerase III, which is responsible for the synthesis of abundant short RNAs, reveal the specializations that make it an adept terminator and reinitiator of transcription.

  • Cell biology: Architecture of a protein entry gate

  • The TOM complex guides precursor proteins from the cell's cytosolic fluid into organelles called mitochondria. Biochemical analyses reveal the architecture of this complex and show how precursor proteins pass through its narrow pores.

  • Molecular structures of unbound and transcribing RNA polymerase III

  • RNA polymerase III (Pol III), the largest eukaryote polymerase yet characterized, transcribes structured small non-coding RNAs; here cryo-electron microscopy structures of budding yeast Pol III allow building of an atomic-level model of the complete 17-subunit complex, both unbound and while elongating RNA.

  • Immune homeostasis enforced by co-localized effector and regulatory T cells

  • Autoantigen-presenting dendritic cells are shown to interact with both effector and regulatory T cells, and effector-produced IL-2 activates the transcription factor STAT5 in regulatory T cells, which in turn upregulates suppressive molecules and prevents autoimmunity.

  • A mechanism for expansion of regulatory T-cell repertoire and its role in self-tolerance

  • T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling has a key role in determining T-cell fate. Precursor cells expressing TCRs within a certain low-affinity range for complexes of self-peptide and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) undergo positive selection and differentiate into naive T cells expressing a highly diverse self-MHC-restricted TCR repertoire. In contrast, precursors displaying TCRs with a high affinity for‘self’ are either eliminated through TCR-agonist-induced apoptosis (negative selection) or restrained by regulatory T (Treg) cells, whose differentiation and function are controlled by the X-chromosome-encoded transcription factor Foxp3 (reviewed in ref. 2). Foxp3 is expressed in a fraction of self-reactive T cells that escape negative selection in response to agonist-driven TCR signals combined with interleukin 2 (IL-2) receptor signalling. In addition to Treg cells, TCR-agonist-driven selection results in the generation of several other specialized T-cell lineages such as natural killerT cells and innate mucosal-associated invariant T cells. Although the latter exhibit a restricted TCR repertoire, Treg cells display a highly diverse collection of TCRs. Here we explore in mice whether a specialized mechanism enables agonist-driven selection of Treg cells with a diverse TCR repertoire, and the importance this holds for self-tolerance. We show that the intronic Foxp3 enhancer conserved noncoding sequence 3 (CNS3) acts as an epigenetic switch that confers a poised state to the Foxp3 promoter in precursor cells to make Treg cell lineage commitment responsive to a broad range of TCR stimuli, particularly to suboptimal ones. CNS3-dependent expansion of the TCR repertoire enables Treg cells to control self-reactive T cells effectively, especially when thymic negative selection is genetically impaired. Our findings highlight the complementary roles of these two main mechanismsof self-tolerance.

  • Genome-wide detection of DNase I hypersensitive sites in single cells and FFPE tissue samples

  • DNase I hypersensitive sites (DHSs) provide important information on the presence of transcriptional regulatory elements and the state of chromatin in mammalian cells. Conventional DNase sequencing (DNase-seq) for genome-wide DHSs profiling is limited by the requirement of millions of cells. Here we report an ultrasensitive strategy, called single-cell DNase sequencing (scDNase-seq) for detection of genome-wide DHSs in single cells. We show that DHS patterns at the single-cell level are highly reproducible among individual cells. Among different single cells, highly expressed gene promoters and enhancers associated with multiple active histone modifications display constitutive DHS whereas chromatin regions with fewer histone modifications exhibit high variation of DHS. Furthermore, the single-cell DHSs predict enhancers that regulate cell-specific gene expression programs and the cell-to-cell variations of DHS are predictive of gene expression. Finally, we apply scDNase-seq to pools of tumour cells and pools of normal cells, dissected from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue slides from patients with thyroid cancer, and detect thousands of tumour-specific DHSs. Many of these DHSs are associated with promoters and enhancers critically involved in cancer development. Analysis of the DHS sequences uncovers one mutation (chr18: 52417839Gggt;C) in the tumour cells of a patient with follicular thyroid carcinoma, which affects the binding of the tumour suppressor protein p53 and correlates with decreased expression of its target gene TXNL1. In conclusion, scDNase-seq can reliably detect DHSs in single cells, greatly extending the range of applications of DHS analysis both for basic and for translational research, and may provide critical information for personalized medicine.

  • Relativistic baryonic jets from an ultraluminous supersoft X-ray source

  • The formation of relativistic jets by an accreting compact object is one of the fundamental mysteries of astrophysics. Although the theory is poorly understood, observations of relativistic jets from systems known as microquasars (compact binary stars) have led to a well established phenomenology. Relativistic jets are not expected to be produced by sources with soft or supersoft X-ray spectra, although two such systems are known to produce relatively low-velocity bipolar outflows. Here we report the optical spectra of an ultraluminous supersoft X-ray source (ULS) in the nearby galaxy M81 (M81 ULS-1; refs 9, 10). Unexpectedly, the spectra show blueshifted, broad Hα emission lines, characteristic of baryonic jets with relativistic speeds. These time-variable emission lines have projected velocities of about 17 per cent of the speed of light, and seem to be similar to those from the prototype microquasar SS 433 (refs 11, 12). Such relativistic jets are not expected to be launched from white dwarfs, and an origin from a black hole or a neutron star is hard to reconcile with the persistence of M81 ULS-1’s soft X-rays. Thus the unexpected presence of relativistic jets in a ULS challenges canonical theories of jet formation, but might be explained by a long-speculated, supercritically accreting black hole with optically thick outflows.

  • Reversal of phenotypes in MECP2 duplication mice using genetic rescue or antisense oligonucleotides

  • Copy number variations have been frequently associated with developmental delay, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders. MECP2 duplication syndrome is one of the most common genomic rearrangements in males and is characterized by autism, intellectual disability, motor dysfunction, anxiety, epilepsy, recurrent respiratory tract infections and early death. The broad range of deficits caused by methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) overexpression poses a daunting challenge to traditional biochemical-pathway-based therapeutic approaches. Accordingly, we sought strategies that directly target MeCP2 and are amenable to translation into clinical therapy. The first question that we addressed was whether the neurological dysfunction is reversible after symptoms set in. Reversal of phenotypes in adult symptomatic mice has been demonstrated in some models of monogenic loss-of-function neurological disorders, including loss of MeCP2 in Rett syndrome, indicating that, at least in some cases, the neuroanatomy may remain sufficiently intact so that correction of the molecular dysfunction underlying these disorders can restore healthy physiology. Given the absence of neurodegeneration in MECP2 duplication syndrome, we propose that restoration of normal MeCP2 levels in MECP2 duplication adult mice would rescue their phenotype. By generating and characterizing a conditional Mecp2-overexpressing mouse model, here we show that correction of MeCP2 levels largely reverses the behavioural, molecular and electrophysiological deficits. We also reduced MeCP2 using an antisense oligonucleotide strategy, which has greater translational potential. Antisense oligonucleotides are small, modified nucleic acids that can selectively hybridize with messenger RNA transcribed from a target gene and silence it, and have been successfully used to correct deficits in different mouse models. We find that antisense oligonucleotide treatment induces a broad phenotypic rescue in adult symptomatic transgenic MECP2 duplication mice (MECP2-TG), and corrected MECP2 levels in lymphoblastoid cells from MECP2 duplication patients in a dose-dependent manner.

  • Erratum: Differential responses to lithium in hyperexcitable neurons from patients with bipolar disorder

  • Corrigendum: NLRP10 is a NOD-like receptor essential to initiate adaptive immunity by dendritic cells

  • Corrigendum: Acute stress facilitates long-lasting changes in cholinergic gene expression

  • Corrigendum: Human body epigenome maps reveal noncanonical DNA methylation variation

  • The contentious nature of soil organic matter

  • Instead of containing stable and chemically unique‘humic substances’, as has been widely accepted, soil organic matter is a mixture of progressively decomposing organic compounds; this has broad implications for soil science and its applications.

  • Soil biodiversity and human health

  • Soil biodiversity sustains human health and its loss can be mitigated by sustainable management.

  • Managing nitrogen for sustainable development

  • Careful management of nitrogen fertilizer usage is required to ensure world food security while limiting environmental degradation; an analysis of historical nitrogen use efficiency reveals socio-economic factors and technological innovations that have influenced a range of past national trends and that suggest ways to improve global food production and environmental stewardship by 2050.

  • Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians

  • The first genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, based on data from 230 West Eurasians dating between to 6500 and 300 bc and including new data from 163 individuals among which are 26 Neolithic Anatolians, provides a direct view of selection on loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity.

  • FGF signalling regulates bone growth through autophagy

  • Skeletal growth relies on both biosynthetic and catabolic processes. While the role of the former is clearly established, how the latter contributes to growth-promoting pathways is less understood. Macroautophagy, hereafter referred to as autophagy, is a catabolic process that plays a fundamental part in tissue homeostasis. We investigated the role of autophagy during bone growth, which is mediated by chondrocyte rate of proliferation, hypertrophic differentiation and extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition in growth plates. Here we show that autophagy is induced in growth-plate chondrocytes during post-natal development and regulates the secretion of type II collagen (Col2), the major component of cartilage ECM. Mice lacking the autophagy related gene 7 (Atg7) in chondrocytes experience endoplasmic reticulum storage of type II procollagen (PC2) and defective formation of the Col2 fibrillary network in the ECM. Surprisingly, post-natal induction of chondrocyte autophagy is mediated by the growth factor FGF18 through FGFR4 and JNK-dependent activation of the autophagy initiation complex VPS34–beclin-1. Autophagy is completely suppressed in growth plates from Fgf18−/− embryos, while Fgf18+/− heterozygous and Fgfr4−/− mice fail to induce autophagy during post-natal development and show decreased Col2 levels in the growth plate. Strikingly, the Fgf18+/− and Fgfr4−/− phenotypes can be rescued in vivo by pharmacological activation of autophagy, pointing to autophagy as a novel effector of FGF signalling in bone. These data demonstrate that autophagy is a developmentally regulated process necessary for bone growth, and identify FGF signalling as a crucial regulator ofautophagy in chondrocytes.

  • Death from drought in tropical forests is triggered by hydraulics not carbon starvation

  • Drought threatens tropical rainforests over seasonal to decadal timescales, but the drivers of tree mortality following drought remain poorly understood. It has been suggested that reduced availability of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) critically increases mortality risk through insufficient carbon supply to metabolism (‘carbon starvation’). However, little is known about how NSC stores are affected by drought, especially over the long term, and whether they are more important than hydraulic processes in determining drought-induced mortality. Using data from the world’s longest-running experimental drought study in tropical rainforest (in the Brazilian Amazon), we test whether carbon starvation or deterioration of the water-conducting pathways from soil to leaf trigger tree mortality. Biomass loss from mortality in the experimentally droughted forest increased substantially after ggt;10 years of reduced soil moisture availability. The mortality signal was dominated by the death of large trees, which were at a much greater risk of hydraulic deterioration than smaller trees. However, we find no evidence that the droughted trees suffered carbon starvation, as their NSC concentrations were similar tothose of non-droughted trees, and growth rates did not decline in either living or dying trees. Our results indicate that hydraulics, rather than carbon starvation, triggers tree death from drought in tropical rainforest.

  • Metabolism: Inflammation keeps old mice healthy

  • Immune cells called regulatory T cells accumulate in fat during ageing. The anti-inflammatory activity of these cells worsens age-associated defects in metabolism, in contrast to its effect in obesity.

  • Depletion of fat-resident Treg cells prevents age-associated insulin resistance

  • Age-associated insulin resistance (IR) and obesity-associated IR are two physiologically distinct forms of adult-onset diabetes. While macrophage-driven inflammation is a core driver of obesity-associated IR, the underlying mechanisms of the obesity-independent yet highly prevalent age-associated IR are largely unexplored. Here we show, using comparative adipo-immune profiling in mice, that fat-resident regulatory T cells, termed fTreg cells, accumulate in adipose tissue as a function of age, but not obesity. Supporting the existence of two distinct mechanisms underlying IR, mice deficient in fTreg cells are protected against age-associated IR, yet remain susceptible to obesity-associated IR and metabolic disease. By contrast, selective depletion of fTreg cells via anti-ST2 antibody treatment increases adipose tissue insulin sensitivity. These findings establish that distinct immune cell populations within adipose tissue underlie ageing- and obesity-associated IR, and implicate fTreg cells as adipo-immune drivers and potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of age-associated IR.

  • The ontogeny of fairness in seven societies

  • A sense of fairness plays a critical role in supporting human cooperation. Adult norms of fair resource sharing vary widely across societies, suggesting that culture shapes the acquisition of fairness behaviour during childhood. Here we examine how fairness behaviour develops in children from seven diverse societies, testing children from 4 to 15 years of age (n = 866 pairs) in a standardized resource decision task. We measured two key aspects of fairness decisions: disadvantageous inequity aversion (peer receives more than self) and advantageous inequity aversion (self receives more than a peer). We show that disadvantageous inequity aversion emergedacross all populations by middle childhood. By contrast, advantageous inequity aversion was more variable, emerging in three populations and only later in development. We discuss these findings in relation to questions about the universality and cultural specificity of human fairness.

  • Therapeutic antibodies reveal Notch control of transdifferentiation in the adult lung

  • Prevailing dogma holds that cell–cell communication through Notch ligands and receptors determines binary cell fate decisions during progenitor cell divisions, with differentiated lineages remaining fixed. Mucociliary clearance in mammalian respiratory airways depends on secretory cells (club and goblet) and ciliated cells to produce and transport mucus. During development or repair, the closely related Jagged ligands (JAG1 and JAG2) induce Notch signalling to determine the fate of these lineages as they descend from a common proliferating progenitor. In contrast to such situations in which cell fate decisions are made inrapidly dividing populations, cells of the homeostatic adult airway epithelium are long-lived, and little is known about the role of active Notch signalling under such conditions. To disrupt Jagged signalling acutely in adult mammals, here we generate antibody antagonists that selectively target each Jagged paralogue, and determine a crystal structure that explains selectivity. We show that acute Jagged blockade induces a rapid and near-complete loss of club cells, with a concomitant gain in ciliated cells, under homeostatic conditions without increased cell death or division. Fate analyses demonstrate a direct conversion of club cells to ciliated cells without proliferation, meeting a conservative definition of direct transdifferentiation. Jagged inhibition also reversed goblet cell metaplasia in a preclinical asthma model, providing a therapeutic foundation. Our discovery that Jagged antagonism relieves a blockade of cell-to-cell conversion unveils unexpected plasticity, and establishes a model for Notch regulation of transdifferentiation.

  • Potential sea-level rise from Antarctic ice-sheet instability constrained by observations

  • Large parts of the Antarctic ice sheet lying on bedrock below sea level may be vulnerable to marine-ice-sheet instability (MISI), a self-sustaining retreat of the grounding line triggered by oceanic or atmospheric changes. There is growing evidence that MISI may be underway throughout the Amundsen Sea embayment (ASE), which contains ice equivalent to more than a metre of global sea-level rise. If triggered in other regions, the centennial to millennial contribution could be several metres. Physically plausible projections are challenging: numerical models with sufficient spatial resolution to simulate grounding-line processes have been too computationally expensive to generate large ensembles for uncertainty assessment, and lower-resolution model projections rely on parameterizations that are only loosely constrained by present day changes. Here we project that the Antarctic ice sheet will contribute up to 30 cm sea-level equivalent by 2100 and 72 cm by 2200 (95% quantiles) where the ASE dominates. Our process-based, statistical approach gives skewed and complex probability distributions (single mode, 10 cm, at 2100; two modes, 49 cm and 6 cm, at 2200). The dependence of sliding on basal friction is a key unknown: nonlinear relationships favour higher contributions. Results are conditional on assessments of MISI risk on the basis of projected triggers under the climate scenario A1B (ref. 9), although sensitivity to these is limited by theoretical and topographical constraints on the rate and extent of ice loss. We find that contributions are restricted by a combination of these constraints, calibration with success in simulating observed ASE losses, and low assessed risk in some basins. Our assessment suggests that upper-bound estimates from low-resolution models and physical arguments (up to a metre by 2100 and around one and a half by 2200) are implausible under current understanding of physical mechanisms and potential triggers.

  • Neonicotinoid pesticide exposure impairs crop pollination services provided by bumblebees

  • Recent concern over global pollinator declines has led to considerable research on the effects of pesticides on bees. Although pesticides are typically not encountered at lethal levels in the field, there is growing evidence indicating that exposure to field-realistic levels can have sublethal effects on bees, affecting their foraging behaviour, homing ability and reproductive success. Bees are essential for the pollination of a wide variety of crops and the majority of wild flowering plants, but until now research on pesticide effects has been limited to direct effects on bees themselves and not on the pollination services they provide. Here we show the first evidence to our knowledge that pesticide exposure can reduce the pollination services bumblebees deliver to apples, a crop of global economic importance. Bumblebee colonies exposed to a neonicotinoid pesticide provided lower visitation rates to apple trees and collected pollen less often. Most importantly, these pesticide-exposed colonies produced apples containing fewer seeds, demonstrating a reduced delivery of pollination services. Our results also indicate that reduced pollination service delivery is not due to pesticide-induced changes in individual bee behaviour, but most likely due to effects at the colony level. These findings show that pesticide exposure can impair the ability of bees to provide pollination services, with important implications for both the sustained delivery of stable crop yields and the functioning of natural ecosystems.

  • Corrigendum: The formation and fate of internal waves in the South China Sea

  • Corrigendum: The‘obligate diploid’ Candida albicans forms mating-competent haploids

  • Corrigendum: Mutant IDH inhibits HNF-4α to block hepatocyte differentiation and promote biliary cancer

  • Pharmacogenomic agreement between two cancer cell line data sets

  • In panels of cancer cell lines analysed for their response to drug libraries, some studies have proposed distinct pharmacological sensitivities for some cell lines while other studies have not seen the same trends; here the data in the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia and the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer are reassessed, and the authors report a stronger degree of concordance between the two data sets than that in a previous study.

  • Ecology: Ecosystem vulnerability to ocean warming

  • Analysis of the temperature ranges occupied by marine species finds that the vulnerability of ecological communities to global warming may depend more on organismal physiology than on the magnitude of change.

  • Thermal biases and vulnerability to warming in the world’s marine fauna

  • How marine communities will respond to climate change depends on the thermal sensitivities of existing communities; existing reef communities do not show a perfect fit between current temperatures and the thermal niches of the species within them and this thermal bias is a major contributor to projected local species loss.

  • Force generation by skeletal muscle is controlled by mechanosensing in myosin filaments

  • Contraction of both skeletal muscle and the heart is thought to be controlled by a calcium-dependent structural change in the actin-containing thin filaments, which permits the binding of myosin motors from the neighbouring thick filaments to drive filament sliding. Here we show by synchrotron small-angle X-ray diffraction of frog (Rana temporaria) single skeletal muscle cells that, although the well-known thin-filament mechanism is sufficient for regulation of muscle shortening against low load, force generation against high load requires a second permissive step linked to a change in the structure of the thick filament. The resting (switched‘OFF’) structure of the thick filament is characterized by helical tracks of myosin motors on the filament surface and a short backbone periodicity. This OFF structure is almost completely preserved during low-load shortening, which is driven by a small fraction of constitutively active (switched ‘ON’) myosin motors outside thick-filament control. At higher load, these motors generate sufficient thick-filament stress to trigger the transition to its long-periodicity ON structure, unlocking the major population of motors required for high-load contraction. This concept of the thick filament as a regulatory mechanosensor provides a novel explanation for the dynamic and energetic properties of skeletal muscle. A similar mechanism probably operates in the heart.

  • Genetic predisposition to neuroblastoma mediated by a LMO1 super-enhancer polymorphism

  • Neuroblastoma is a paediatric malignancy that typically arises in early childhood, and is derived from the developing sympathetic nervous system. Clinical phenotypes range from localized tumours with excellent outcomes to widely metastatic disease in which long-term survival is approximately 40% despite intensive therapy. A previous genome-wide association study identified common polymorphisms at the LMO1 gene locus that are highly associated with neuroblastoma susceptibility and oncogenic addiction to LMO1 in the tumour cells. Here we investigate the causal DNA variant at this locus and the mechanism by which it leads to neuroblastoma tumorigenesis. We first imputed all possible genotypes across the LMO1 locus and then mapped highly associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) to areas of chromatin accessibility, evolutionary conservation and transcription factor binding sites. We show that SNP rs2168101 Gggt;T is the most highly associated variant (combined P = 7.47 × 10−29, odds ratio 0.65, 95% confidence interval 0.60–0.70), and resides in a super-enhancer defined by extensive acetylation of histone H3 lysine 27 within the first intron of LMO1. The ancestral G allele that is associated with tumour formation resides in a conserved GATA transcription factor binding motif. We show that the newly evolved protective TATA allele is associated with decreased total LMO1 expression (P = 0.028) in neuroblastoma primary tumours, and ablates GATA3 binding (P llt; 0.0001). We demonstrate allelic imbalance favouring the G-containing strand in tumours heterozygous for this SNP, as demonstrated both by RNA sequencing (P llt; 0.0001) and reporter assays (P = 0.002). These findings indicate that a recently evolved polymorphism within a super-enhancer element in the first intron of LMO1 influences neuroblastoma susceptibility through differential GATA transcription factor binding and direct modulation of LMO1 expression in cis, and this leads to an oncogenic dependency in tumour cells.

  • Corrigendum: Regulatory analysis of the C. elegans genome with spatiotemporal resolution

  • Transcriptional regulators form diverse groups with context-dependent regulatory functions

  • One of the most important questions in biology is how transcription factors (TFs) and cofactors control enhancer function and thus gene expression. Enhancer activation usually requires combinations of several TFs, indicating that TFs function synergistically and combinatorially. However, while TF binding has been extensively studied, little is known about how combinations of TFs and cofactors control enhancer function once they are bound. It is typically unclear which TFs participate in combinatorial enhancer activation, whether different TFs form functionally distinct groups, or if certain TFs might substitute for each other in defined enhancer contexts. Here we assess the potential regulatory contributions of TFs and cofactors to combinatorial enhancer control with enhancer complementation assays. We recruited GAL4-DNA-binding-domain fusions of 812 Drosophila TFs and cofactors to 24 enhancer contexts and measured enhancer activities by 82,752 luciferase assays in S2 cells. Most factors were functional in at least one context, yet their contributions differed between contexts and varied from repression to activation (up to 289-fold) for individual factors. Based on functional similarities across contexts, we define 15 groups of TFs that differ in developmental functions and protein sequence features. Similar TFs can substitute for each other, enabling enhancer re-engineering by exchanging TF motifs, and TF–cofactor pairs cooperate during enhancer control and interact physically. Overall, we show that activators and repressors can have diverse regulatory functions that typically depend on the enhancer context. The systematic functional characterization of TFs and cofactors should further our understanding of combinatorial enhancer control and gene regulation.

  • Brain cancer: Tumour cells on neighbourhood watch

  • The discovery of microtube structures that link tumour cells in some invasive brain tumours reveals how these cancers spread, and how they resist treatment.

  • Brain tumour cells interconnect to a functional and resistant network

  • Brain tumours are difficult to treat because of their propensity to infiltrate brain tissue; here long processes, or tumour microtubes, extended by astrocytomas are shown to promote brain infiltration and to create an interconnected network that enables multicellular communication and that protects the tumours from radiotherapy-induced cell death, suggesting that disruption of the network could be a new therapeutic approach.

  • Sex-dependent dominance at a single locus maintains variation in age at maturity in salmon

  • Males and females share many traits that have a common genetic basis; however, selection on these traits often differs between the sexes, leading to sexual conflict. Under such sexual antagonism, theory predicts the evolution of genetic architectures that resolve this sexual conflict. Yet, despite intense theoretical and empirical interest, the specific loci underlying sexually antagonistic phenotypes have rarely been identified, limiting our understanding of how sexual conflict impacts genome evolution and the maintenance of genetic diversity. Here we identify a large effect locus controlling age at maturity in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), an important fitness trait in which selection favours earlier maturation in males than females, and show it is a clear example of sex-dependent dominance that reduces intralocus sexual conflict and maintains adaptive variation in wild populations. Using high-density single nucleotide polymorphism data across 57 wild populations and whole genome re-sequencing, we find that the vestigial-like family member 3 gene (VGLL3) exhibits sex-dependent dominance in salmon, promoting earlier and later maturation in males and females, respectively. VGLL3, an adiposity regulator associated with size and age at maturity in humans, explained 39% of phenotypic variation, an unexpectedly large proportion for what is usually considered a highly polygenic trait. Such large effects are predicted under balancing selection from either sexually antagonistic or spatially varying selection. Our results provide the first empirical example of dominance reversal allowing greater optimization of phenotypes within each sex, contributing to the resolution of sexual conflict in a major and widespread evolutionary trade-off between age and size at maturity. They also provide key empirical evidence for how variation in reproductive strategies can be maintained over large geographical scales. We anticipate these findings will have a substantial impact on population management in a range of harvested species where trends towards earlier maturation have been observed.

  • Addendum

  • Conductive two-dimensional titanium carbide‘clay’ with high volumetric capacitance

  • Safe and powerful energy storage devices are becoming increasingly important. Charging times of seconds to minutes, with power densities exceeding those of batteries, can in principle be provided by electrochemical capacitors—in particular, pseudocapacitors. Recent research has focused mainly on improving the gravimetric performance of the electrodes of such systems, but for portable electronics and vehicles volume is at a premium. The best volumetric capacitances of carbon-based electrodes are around 300 farads per cubic centimetre; hydrated ruthenium oxide can reach capacitances of 1,000 to 1,500 farads per cubic centimetre with great cyclability, but only in thin films. Recently, electrodes made of two-dimensional titanium carbide (Ti3C2, a member of the ‘MXene’ family), produced by etching aluminium from titanium aluminium carbide (Ti3AlC2, a ‘MAX’ phase) in concentrated hydrofluoric acid, have been shown to have volumetric capacitances of over 300 farads per cubic centimetre. Here we report a method of producing this material using a solution of lithium fluoride and hydrochloric acid. The resulting hydrophilic material swells in volume when hydrated, and can be shaped like clay and dried into a highly conductive solid or rolled into films tens of micrometres thick. Additive-free films of this titanium carbide ‘clay’ have volumetric capacitances of up to 900 farads per cubic centimetre, with excellent cyclability and rate performances. This capacitance is almost twice that of our previous report, and our synthetic method also offers a much faster route to film production as well as the avoidance of handling hazardous concentrated hydrofluoric acid.

  • TRIM37 is a new histone H2A ubiquitin ligase and breast cancer oncoprotein

  • The TRIM37 (also known as MUL) gene is located in the 17q23 chromosomal region, which is amplified in up to∼40% of breast cancers. TRIM37 contains a RING finger domain, a hallmark of E3 ubiquitin ligases, but its protein substrate(s) is unknown. Here we report that TRIM37 mono-ubiquitinates histone H2A, a chromatin modification associated with transcriptional repression. We find that in human breast cancer cell lines containing amplified 17q23, TRIM37 is upregulated and, reciprocally, the major H2A ubiquitin ligase RNF2 (also known as RING1B) is downregulated. Genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-chip experiments in 17q23-amplified breast cancer cells identified many genes, includingmultiple tumour suppressors, whose promoters were bound by TRIM37 and enriched for ubiquitinated H2A. However, unlike RNF2, which is a subunit of polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1), we find that TRIM37 associates with polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). TRIM37, PRC2 and PRC1 are co-bound to specific target genes, resulting in their transcriptional silencing. RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of TRIM37 results in loss of ubiquitinated H2A, dissociation of PRC1 and PRC2 from target promoters, and transcriptional reactivation of silenced genes. Knockdown of TRIM37 in human breast cancer cells containing amplified 17q23 substantially decreases tumour growth in mouse xenografts. Conversely, ectopic expression of TRIM37 renders non-transformed cells tumorigenic. Collectively, our results reveal TRIM37 as an oncogenic H2A ubiquitin ligase that is overexpressed in a subset of breast cancers and promotes transformation by facilitating silencing of tumour suppressors and other genes.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 (, 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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