|Nature - Issue - nature.com science feeds|
With birth defects blamed on the virus now deemed a matter of international concern, researchers must work fast to assess the extent of the threat.
US policymakers must set aside their divisions and give climate research a much-needed boost.
The European Union has its issues, but a Brexit could spell problems for science.
There is no excuse for the shoddy practice of allowing researchers to change outcomes and goals without saying so, says Ben Goldacre.
The risk of extreme winter rainstorms in southern England, such as those that caused widespread flooding in January 2014, has increased as a result of climate warming.Harnessing spare processing time on volunteers' personal computers, Nathalie Schaller and Neil Massey at the University of Oxford,
A small percentage of fungal cells were still able to divide after exposure to Mars-like conditions aboard the International Space Station.Dried samples of the Antarctic-dwelling black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri, which live inside rocks, were exposed for 18 months to
Octopuses use body colour and posture to communicate to others during aggressive encounters, suggesting that they are more social than previously thought.Octopuses are considered to be more solitary animals than many squid or cuttlefish. David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage and his
Genetically identical mice either become obese or stay lean because of differences in how a specific set of genes is regulated.J. Andrew Pospisilik at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, Germany, and his colleagues studied mice with a mutation in
Australia, the Americas and India are among the global hotspots where animals are most threatened by invasive species.Ecologists debate the extent to which biodiversity is threatened by non-native species compared to threats from land-use change and other factors. To explore this, Céline Bellard at
A group of six genes causes some strains of a foodborne bacterium to become highly dangerous, or virulent.Listeria monocytogenes (pictured) can be found in many foods, including unpasteurized milk, and can cause miscarriage in pregnant women or kill infected people if
A planet takes 900,000 years to orbit its star, with the two objects separated by a distance almost 7,000 times that between Earth and the Sun.Niall Deacon at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK, and his colleagues found that the previously known star
Oil and gas exploration could be triggering earthquakes in California, where natural quakes might mask the induced ones.The injection of millions of litres of wastewater into underground oil and gas reserves has been linked to earthquakes around the world, including in central parts of
The susceptibility of bats to a deadly disease is influenced by the humidity of the caves in which they hibernate.White-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in North America, is caused by infection with the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The disease is thought
Researchers have pieced together the genomes of a newly identified group of single-celled organisms, unearthing clues about their metabolism.Archaea are different from bacteria and are generally less studied. To find new, uncultured archaea, Brett Baker at the University of Texas at Austin in Port
GM fish flip-flop; Earth’s crust drilled; and stem-cell scandal memoirs published.
Organization says spike might be the result of heightened awareness because of possible link to Zika— but not everyone agrees.
If the United Kingdom leaves the EU, researchers throughout the bloc will feel the effects.
Columbia courts philanthropic benefactors to support research in impacts and adaptation.
Industry and researchers push for ways to assess memory and concentration deficits.
Team at Francis Crick Institute permitted to use CRISPR–Cas9 technology in embryos for early-development research.
Research clusters emerge as the big success of Germany’s Excellence Initiative — despite its focus on elite institutes.
As Earth's dry zones shift rapidly polewards, researchers are scrambling to figure out the cause— and consequences.
Rigid robots step aside— a new generation of squishy, stretchy machines is wiggling our way.
Mistakes in peer-reviewed papers are easy to find but hard to fix, report David B. Allison and colleagues.
Thomas Schnalke extols the dual genius of pathology sculptor and abstract artist Adolf Fleischmann.
Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.
Ewen Callaway finds smart design fostering collaboration at London's biology super-lab.
Mauritius has culled at least 20,000 flying foxes (Pteropus niger), the island's last surviving native species of fruit bat, in an attempt to reduce damage to lychee and mango crops. Ironically, this cull was justified on the basis of a law enacted in
The development of genetically edited crops and plants raises another conundrum— that of intellectual-property protection (see Nature528, 319–32010.1038/528319a (2015) and Nature529, 26510.1038/nature.2015.17961 (2016)). We suggest that, in the
The Tibetan Plateau is a hotspot for biodiversity, roughly one-third of which is protected. Yet wildlife conservation efforts there are being disrupted by fences used to manage animal ranges, and by the expansion of roads and railways.These projects threaten nature conservation and ecosystem health
We call for the European Union to push governments into keeping their research funding above subsistence level. This will ensure that scientists from across Europe can compete for Horizon 2020 research funding, not just those from the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia.Europe's research money
In your report on the revived drilling project to Earth's mantle, you mention a prominent group of National Academy of Sciences members at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, who met in 1957 to outline the original Project Mohole (Nature528, 16
A strong network of mentors provides a wealth of experience from which to learn.
Eleftherios P. Diamandis considers when to retire.
A scientific project manager enjoys making connections.
An investment for the future.
The water-splitting reaction is a promising route to renewable energy. Catalytic hotspots, and the best sites for co-catalyst placement, have now been pinpointed in a water-splitting catalyst, guiding future catalyst design. See Letter p.77
Plots of survival against time for nematode worms in different conditions can be superimposed by rescaling the time axis. This observation has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the nature of ageing. See Letter p.103
The native structure of the proteinα-synuclein, which is implicated in Parkinson's disease, is controversial. In-cell nuclear magnetic resonance now shows that it remains disordered when loaded into living cells. See Article p.45
The response of electrons in atoms to ultrashort optical light pulses has been probed by measuring the ultraviolet light emitted by the atoms. This reveals that a finite time delay occurs before the response. See Letter p.66
Connective-tissue cells known as fibroblasts display an increasing spectrum of functions. Different fibroblast subtypes are now shown to either promote or suppress inflammation-associated intestinal cancers.
Sometimes it is the most unassuming animals that cause the most consternation. Xenoturbella (pictured) are simple marine flatworms with no brain, anus, gonads, excretory system or through gut, so one would expect them to find a home among the acoels— similarly simple animals
Intracellular aggregation of the human amyloid proteinα-synuclein is causally linked to Parkinson’s disease. While the isolated protein is intrinsically disordered, its native structure in mammalian cells is not known. Here we use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy to derive
Lymphoid tissue is a key reservoir established by HIV-1 during acute infection. It is a site associated with viral production, storage of viral particles in immune complexes, and viral persistence. Although combinations of antiretroviral drugs usually suppress viral replication and reduce viral RNA to undetectable
Medulloblastoma is a highly malignant paediatric brain tumour, often inflicting devastating consequences on the developing child. Genomic studies have revealed four distinct molecular subgroups with divergent biology and clinical behaviour. An understanding of the regulatory circuitry governing the transcriptional landscapes of medulloblastoma subgroups, and how
Cometary nuclei consist mostly of dust and water ice. Previous observations have found nuclei to be low-density and highly porous bodies, but have only moderately constrained the range of allowed densities because of the measurement uncertainties. Here we report the precise mass, bulk density, porosity and internal structure of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on the basis of its gravity field. The mass and gravity field are derived from measured spacecraft velocity perturbations at fly-by distances between 10 and 100 kilometres. The gravitational point mass is GM = 666.2 ± 0.2 cubic metres per second squared, giving a mass M = (9,982 ± 3) × 109 kilograms. Together with the current estimate of the volume of the nucleus, the average bulk density of the nucleus is 533 ± 6 kilograms per cubic metre. The nucleus appears to be a low-density, highly porous (72–74 per cent) dusty body, similar to that of comet 9P/Tempel 1. The most likely composition mix has approximately four times more dust than ice by mass and two times more dust than ice by volume. We conclude that the interior of the nucleus is homogeneous and constant in density on a global scale without large voids. The high porosity seems to be an inherent property of the nucleus material.
The time it takes a bound electron to respond to the electromagnetic force of light sets a fundamental speed limit on the dynamic control of matter and electromagnetic signal processing. Time-integrated measurements of the nonlinear refractive index of matter indicate that the nonlinear response of bound electrons to optical fields is not instantaneous; however, a complete spectral characterization of the nonlinear susceptibility tensors—which is essential to deduce the temporal response of a medium to arbitrary driving forces using spectral measurements—has not yet been achieved. With the establishment of attosecond chronoscopy, the impulsive response of positive-energy electrons to electromagnetic fields has been explored through ionization of atoms and solids by an extreme-ultraviolet attosecond pulse or by strong near-infrared fields. However, none of the attosecond studies carried out so far have provided direct access to the nonlinear response of bound electrons. Here we demonstrate that intense optical attosecond pulses synthesized in the visible and nearby spectral ranges allow sub-femtosecond control and metrology of bound-electron dynamics. Vacuum ultraviolet spectra emanating from krypton atoms, exposed to intense waveform-controlled optical attosecond pulses, reveal a finite nonlinear response time of bound electrons of up to 115 attoseconds, which is sensitive to and controllable by the super-octave optical field. Our study could enable new spectroscopies of bound electrons in atomic, molecular or lattice potentials of solids, as well as light-based electronics operating on sub-femtosecond timescales and at petahertz rates.
Many procedures in modern clinical medicine rely on the use of electronic implants in treating conditions that range from acute coronary events to traumatic injury. However, standard permanent electronic hardware acts as a nidus for infection: bacteria form biofilms along percutaneous wires, or seed haematogenously, with the potential to migrate within the body and to provoke immune-mediated pathological tissue reactions. The associated surgical retrieval procedures, meanwhile, subject patients to the distress associated with re-operation and expose them to additional complications. Here, we report materials, device architectures, integration strategies, and in vivo demonstrations in rats of implantable, multifunctional silicon sensors for the brain, for which all of the constituent materials naturally resorb via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action, eliminating the need for extraction. Continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure and temperature illustrates functionality essential to the treatment of traumatic brain injury; the measurement performance of our resorbable devices compares favourably with that of non-resorbable clinical standards. In our experiments, insulated percutaneous wires connect to an externally mounted, miniaturized wireless potentiostat for data transmission. In a separate set-up, we connect a sensor to an implanted (but only partially resorbable) data-communication system, proving the principle that there is no need for any percutaneous wiring. The devices can be adapted to sense fluid flow, motion, pH or thermal characteristics, in formats that are compatible with the body’s abdomen and extremities, as well as the deep brain, suggesting that the sensors might meet many needs in clinical medicine.
The splitting of water photoelectrochemically into hydrogen and oxygen represents a promising technology for converting solar energy to fuel. The main challenge is to ensure that photogenerated holes efficiently oxidize water, which generally requires modification of the photoanode with an oxygen evolution catalyst (OEC) to increase the photocurrent and reduce the onset potential. However, because excess OEC material can hinder light absorption and decrease photoanode performance, its deposition needs to be carefully controlled—yet it is unclear which semiconductor surface sites give optimal improvement if targeted for OEC deposition, and whether sites catalysing water oxidation also contribute to competing charge-carrier recombination with photogenerated electrons. Surface heterogeneity exacerbates these uncertainties, especially for nanostructured photoanodes benefiting from small charge-carrier transport distances. Here we use super-resolution imaging, operated in a charge-carrier-selective manner and with a spatiotemporal resolution of approximately 30 nanometres and 15 milliseconds, to map both the electron- and hole-driven photoelectrocatalytic activities on single titanium oxide nanorods. We then map, with sub-particle resolution (about 390 nanometres), the photocurrent associated with water oxidation, and find that the most active sites for water oxidation are also the most important sites forcharge-carrier recombination. Site-selective deposition of an OEC, guided by the activity maps, improves the overall performance of a given nanorod—even though more improvement in photocurrent efficiency correlates with less reduction in onset potential (and vice versa) at the sub-particle level.Moreover, the optimal catalyst deposition sites for photocurrent enhancement are the lower-activity sites, and for onset potential reduction the optimal sites are the sites with more positive onset potential, contrary to what is obtainable under typical deposition conditions. These findings allow us to suggest an activity-based strategy for rationally engineering catalyst-improved photoelectrodes, which should be widely applicable because our measurements can be performed for many different semiconductor and catalyst materials.
Intermediate-depth earthquakes in cold subduction zones are observed within the subducting oceanic crust, as well as the mantle. In contrast, intermediate-depth earthquakes in hot subduction zones predominantly occur just below the Mohorovičić discontinuity. These observations have stimulated interest in relationships between blueschist-facies metamorphism and seismicity, particularly through dehydration reactions involving the mineral lawsonite. Here we conducted deformation experiments on lawsonite, while monitoring acoustic emissions, in a Griggs-type deformation apparatus. The temperature was increased above the thermal stability of lawsonite, while the sample was deforming, to test whether the lawsonite dehydration reaction induces unstable fault slip. In contrast to similar tests on antigorite, unstable fault slip (thatis, stick–slip) occurred during dehydration reactions in the lawsonite and acoustic emission signals were continuously observed. Microstructural observations indicate that strain is highly localized along the fault (R1 and B shears), and that the fault surface develops slickensides (very smooth fault surfaces polished by frictional sliding). The unloading slope during the unstable slip follows the stiffness of the apparatus at all experimental conditions, regardless of the strain rate and temperature ramping rate. A thermomechanical scaling factor for the experiments is within the range estimated for natural subduction zones, indicating the potential for unstable frictional sliding within natural lawsonite layers.
There is considerable concern over declines in insect pollinator communities and potential impacts on the pollination of crops and wildflowers. Among the multiple pressures facing pollinators, decreasing floral resources due to habitat loss and degradation has been suggested as a key contributing factor. However, a lack of quantitative data has hampered testing for historical changes in floral resources. Here we show that overall floral rewards can be estimated at a national scale by combining vegetation surveys and direct nectar measurements. We find evidence for substantial losses in nectar resources in England and Wales between the 1930s and 1970s; however, total nectar provision in Great Britain as a whole had stabilized by 1978, and increased from 1998 to 2007. These findings concur with trends in pollinator diversity, which declined in the mid-twentieth century but stabilized more recently. The diversity of nectar sources declined from 1978 to 1990 and thereafter in some habitats, with four plant species accounting for over 50% of national nectar provision in 2007. Calcareous grassland, broadleaved woodland and neutral grassland are the habitats that produce the greatest amount of nectar per unit area from the most diverse sources, whereas arable land is the poorest with respect to amount of nectar per unit area and diversity of nectar sources. Although agri-environment schemes add resources to arable landscapes, their national contribution is low. Owing to their large area, improved grasslands could add substantially to national nectar provision if they were managed to increase floral resource provision. This national-scale assessment of floral resource provision affords new insights into the links between plant and pollinator declines, and offers considerable opportunities for conservation.
The position of Xenacoelomorpha in the tree of life remains a major unresolved question in the study of deep animal relationships. Xenacoelomorpha, comprising Acoela, Nemertodermatida, and Xenoturbella, are bilaterally symmetrical marine worms that lack several features common to most other bilaterians, for example an anus, nephridia, and a circulatory system. Two conflicting hypotheses are under debate: Xenacoelomorpha is the sister group to all remaining Bilateria (= Nephrozoa, namely protostomes and deuterostomes) or is a clade inside Deuterostomia. Thus, determining the phylogenetic position of this clade is pivotal for understanding the early evolution of bilaterian features, or as a case of drastic secondary loss of complexity. Here we show robust phylogenomic support for Xenacoelomorpha as the sister taxon of Nephrozoa. Our phylogenetic analyses, based on 11 novel xenacoelomorph transcriptomes and using different models of evolution under maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference analyses, strongly corroborate this result. Rigorous testing of 25 experimental data sets designed to exclude data partitions and taxa potentially prone to reconstruction biases indicates that long-branch attraction, saturation, and missing data do not influence these results. The sister group relationship between Nephrozoa and Xenacoelomorpha supported by our phylogenomic analyses implies that the last common ancestor of bilaterians was probably a benthic, ciliated acoelomate worm with a single opening into an epithelial gut, and that excretory organs, coelomic cavities, and nerve cords evolved after xenacoelomorphs separated from the stem lineage of Nephrozoa.
The discovery of four new Xenoturbella species from deep waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean is reported here. The genus and two nominal species were described from the west coast of Sweden, but their taxonomic placement remains unstable. Limited evidence placed Xenoturbella with molluscs, but the tissues can be contaminated with prey. They were then considered deuterostomes. Further taxon sampling and analysis have grouped Xenoturbella with acoelomorphs (=Xenacoelomorpha) as sister to all other Bilateria (=Nephrozoa), or placed Xenacoelomorpha inside Deuterostomia with Ambulacraria (Hemichordata + Echinodermata). Here we describe four new species of Xenoturbella and reassess those hypotheses. A large species (ggt;20 cm long) was found at cold-water hydrocarbon seeps at 2,890 m depth in Monterey Canyon and at 1,722 m in the Gulf of California (Mexico). A second large species (~10 cm long) also occurred at 1,722 m in the Gulf of California. The third large species (~15 cm long) was found at ~3,700 m depth near a newly discovered carbonate-hosted hydrothermal vent in the Gulf of California. Finally, a small species (~2.5 cm long), found near a whale carcass at 631 mdepth in Monterey Submarine Canyon (California), resembles the two nominal species from Sweden. Analysis of whole mitochondrial genomes places the three larger species as a sister clade to the smaller Atlantic and Pacific species. Phylogenomic analyses of transcriptomic sequences support placement of Xenacoelomorpha as sister to Nephrozoa or Protostomia.
Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) has crucial roles in transcriptional regulation and microRNA processing. Mutations in the MECP2 gene are found in 90% of patients with Rett syndrome, a severe developmental disorder with autistic phenotypes. Duplications of MECP2-containing genomic segments cause the MECP2 duplication syndrome, which shares core symptoms with autism spectrum disorders. Although Mecp2-null mice recapitulate most developmental and behavioural defects seen in patients with Rett syndrome, it has been difficult to identify autism-like behaviours in the mouse model of MeCP2 overexpression. Here we report that lentivirus-based transgenic cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) expressing human MeCP2 in the brain exhibit autism-like behaviours and show germline transmission of the transgene. Expression of the MECP2 transgene was confirmed by western blotting and immunostaining of brain tissues of transgenic monkeys. Genomic integration sites of the transgenes were characterized by a deep-sequencing-based method. As compared to wild-type monkeys, MECP2 transgenic monkeys exhibited a higher frequency of repetitive circular locomotion and increased stress responses, as measured by the threat-related anxiety and defensive test. The transgenic monkeys showed less interaction with wild-type monkeys within the same group, and also a reduced interaction time when paired with other transgenic monkeys in social interaction tests. The cognitive functions of the transgenic monkeys were largely normal in the Wisconsin general test apparatus, although some showed signs of stereotypic cognitive behaviours. Notably, we succeeded in generating five F1 offspring of MECP2 transgenic monkeys by intracytoplasmic sperm injection with sperm from one F0 transgenic monkey, showing germline transmission and Mendelian segregation of several MECP2 transgenes in the F1 progeny. Moreover, F1 transgenic monkeys also showed reduced social interactions when tested in pairs, as compared to wild-type monkeys of similar age. Together, these results indicate the feasibility and reliability of using genetically engineered non-human primates to study brain disorders.
The process of ageing makes death increasingly likely, involving a random aspect that produces a wide distribution of lifespan even in homogeneous populations. The study of this stochastic behaviour may link molecular mechanisms to the ageing process that determines lifespan. Here, by collecting high-precision mortality statistics from large populations, we observe that interventions as diverse as changes in diet, temperature, exposure to oxidative stress, and disruption of genes including the heat shock factor hsf-1, the hypoxia-inducible factor hif-1, and the insulin/IGF-1 pathway components daf-2, age-1, and daf-16 all alter lifespan distributions by an apparent stretching or shrinking of time. To produce such temporal scaling, each intervention must alter to the same extent throughout adult life all physiological determinants of the risk of death. Organismic ageing in Caenorhabditis elegans therefore appears to involve aspects of physiology that respond in concert to a diverse set of interventions. In this way, temporal scaling identifies a novel state variable, r(t), that governs the risk of death and whose average decay dynamics involves a single effective rate constant of ageing, kr. Interventions that produce temporal scaling influence lifespan exclusively by altering kr. Such interventions, when applied transiently even in early adulthood, temporarily alter kr with an attendant transient increase or decrease in the rate of change in r and a permanent effect on remaining lifespan. The existence of an organismal ageing dynamics that is invariant across genetic and environmental contexts provides the basis for a new, quantitative framework for evaluating the manner and extent to which specific molecular processes contribute to the aspect of ageing that determines lifespan.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are currently the leading candidates for virus-based gene therapies because of their broad tissue tropism, non-pathogenic nature and low immunogenicity. They have been successfully used in clinical trials to treat hereditary diseases such as haemophilia B (ref. 2), and have been approved for treatment of lipoprotein lipase deficiency in Europe. Considerable efforts have been made to engineer AAV variants with novel and biomedically valuable cell tropisms to allow efficacious systemic administration, yet basic aspects of AAV cellular entry are still poorly understood. In particular, the protein receptor(s) required for AAV entry after cell attachment remains unknown. Here we use an unbiased genetic screen to identify proteins essential for AAV serotype 2 (AAV2) infection in a haploid human cell line. The most significantly enriched gene of the screen encodes a previously uncharacterized type I transmembrane protein, KIAA0319L (denoted hereafter as AAV receptor (AAVR)). We characterize AAVR as a protein capable of rapid endocytosis from the plasma membrane and trafficking to the trans-Golgi network. We show that AAVR directly binds to AAV2 particles, and that anti-AAVR antibodies efficiently block AAV2 infection. Moreover, genetic ablation of AAVR renders a wide range of mammalian cell types highly resistant to AAV2 infection. Notably, AAVR serves as a critical host factor for all tested AAV serotypes. The importance of AAVR for in vivo gene delivery is further highlighted by the robust resistance of Aavr−/− (also known as Au040320−/− and Kiaa0319l−/−) mice to AAV infection. Collectively, our data indicate that AAVR is a universal receptor involved in AAV infection.
ATP-dependent chromatin remodellers allow access to DNA for transcription factors and the general transcription machinery, but whether mammalian chromatin remodellers target specific nucleosomes to regulate transcription is unclear. Here we present genome-wide remodeller–nucleosome interaction profiles for the chromatin remodellers Chd1, Chd2, Chd4, Chd6, Chd8, Chd9, Brg1 and Ep400 in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. These remodellers bind one or both full nucleosomes that flank micrococcal nuclease (MNase)-defined nucleosome-free promoter regions (NFRs), where they separate divergent transcription. Surprisingly, large CpG-rich NFRs that extend downstream of annotated transcriptional start sites are nevertheless bound by non-nucleosomal or subnucleosomal histone variants (H3.3 and H2A.Z) and marked by H3K4me3 and H3K27ac modifications. RNA polymerase II therefore navigates hundreds of base pairs of altered chromatin in the sense direction before encountering an MNase-resistant nucleosome at the 3′ end of the NFR. Transcriptome analysis after remodeller depletion reveals reciprocal mechanisms of transcriptional regulation by remodellers. Whereas at active genes individual remodellers have either positive or negative roles via altering nucleosome stability, at polycomb-enriched bivalent genes the same remodellers act in an opposite manner. These findings indicate that remodellers target specific nucleosomes at the edge of NFRs, where they regulate ES cell transcriptional programs.
|Nature - AOP - nature.com science feeds|
Newly mapped features on the floor of the Arctic Ocean suggest that the Arctic basin was once covered by a one-kilometre-thick, flowing ice shelf derived from large ice sheets in eastern Siberia, Arctic Canada and the Barents Sea.
A large phylogenomics study reveals that the symbiotic event that led to the emergence of organelles known as mitochondria may have occurred later in the evolution of complex cells than was thought.
The part that the mouse gene Prdm9 plays in generating double-strand breaks in DNA has now been linked to its putative role in speciation, thanks to experiments that use a 'humanized' version of the gene.
The selective elimination of cells that have adopted an irreversible, senescent state has now been shown to extend the lifespan of mice and to ameliorate some age-related disease processes.
When senescent cells accumulate during adulthood they negatively influence lifespan and promote age-dependent changes in several organs; clearance of these cells delayed tumorigenesis in mice and attenuated age-related deterioration of several organs without overt side effects, suggesting that the therapeutic removal of senescent cells may be able to extend healthy lifespan.
PRDM9 is a DNA-binding protein that controls the position of double-strand breaks in meiosis, and the gene that encodes it is responsible for hybrid infertility between closely related mouse species; this hybrid infertility is eliminated by introducing the zinc-finger domain sequence from the human version of the PRDM9 gene, a change which alters both the position of double-strand breaks and the symmetry of PRDM9 binding and suggests that PRDM9 may have a more general but transient role in the early stages of speciation.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are physiologically important transmembrane signalling proteins that trigger intracellular responses upon binding of extracellular ligands. Despite recent breakthroughs in GPCR crystallography, the details of ligand-induced signal transduction are not well understood owing to missing dynamical information. In principle, such information can be provided by NMR, but so far only limited data of functional relevance on few side-chain sites of eukaryotic GPCRs have been obtained. Here we show that receptor motions can be followed at virtually any backbone site in a thermostabilized mutant of the turkeyβ1-adrenergic receptor (β1AR). Labelling with [15N]valine in a eukaryotic expression system provides over twenty resolved resonances that report on structure and dynamics in six ligand complexes and the apo form. The response to the various ligands is heterogeneous in the vicinity of the binding pocket, but gets transformed into a homogeneous readout at the intracellular side of helix 5 (TM5), which correlates linearly with ligand efficacy for the G protein pathway. The effect of several pertinent, thermostabilizing point mutations was assessed by reverting them to the native sequence. Whereas the response to ligands remains largely unchanged, binding of the G protein mimetic nanobody NB80 and G protein activation are only observed when two conserved tyrosines (Y227 and Y343) are restored. Binding of NB80 leads to very strong spectral changes throughout the receptor, including the extracellular ligand entrance pocket. This indicates that even the fully thermostabilized receptor undergoes activating motions in TM5, but that the fully active state is only reached in presence of Y227 and Y343 by stabilization with a G protein-like partner. The combined analysis of chemical shift changes from the point mutations and ligand responses identifies crucial connections in the allosteric activation pathway, and presents a general experimental method to delineate signal transmission networks at high resolution in GPCRs.
No single mechanism can account for the full amplitude of past atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration variability over glacial–interglacial cycles. A build-up of carbon in the deep ocean has been shown to have occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum. However, the mechanisms responsible for the release of the deeply sequestered carbon to the atmosphere at deglaciation, and the relative importance of deep ocean sequestration in regulating millennial-timescale variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration before the Last Glacial Maximum, have remained unclear. Here we present sedimentary redox-sensitive trace-metal records from the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean that provide a reconstruction of transient changesin deep ocean oxygenation and, by inference, respired carbon storage throughout the last glacial cycle. Our data suggest that respired carbon was removed from the abyssal Southern Ocean during the Northern Hemisphere cold phases of the deglaciation, when atmospheric CO2 concentration increased rapidly, reflecting—at least in part—a combination of dwindling iron fertilization by dust and enhanced deep ocean ventilation. Furthermore, our records show that the observed covariation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and abyssal Southern Ocean oxygenation was maintained throughout most of the past 80,000 years. This suggests that on millennial timescales deep ocean circulation and iron fertilization in the Southern Ocean played a consistent role in modifying atmospheric CO2 concentration.
The origin of eukaryotes stands as a major conundrum in biology. Current evidence indicates that the last eukaryotic common ancestor already possessed many eukaryotic hallmarks, including a complex subcellular organization. In addition, the lack of evolutionary intermediates challenges the elucidation of the relative order of emergence of eukaryotic traits. Mitochondria are ubiquitous organelles derived from an alphaproteobacterial endosymbiont. Different hypotheses disagree on whether mitochondria were acquired early or late during eukaryogenesis. Similarly, the nature and complexity of the receiving host are debated, with models ranging from a simple prokaryotic host to an already complex proto-eukaryote. Most competing scenarios can be roughly grouped into either mito-early, which consider the driving force of eukaryogenesis to be mitochondrial endosymbiosis into a simple host, or mito-late, which postulate that a significant complexity predated mitochondrial endosymbiosis. Here we provide evidence for late mitochondrial endosymbiosis. We use phylogenomics to directly test whether proto-mitochondrial proteins were acquired earlier or later than other proteins of the last eukaryotic common ancestor. We find that last eukaryotic common ancestor protein families of alphaproteobacterial ancestry and of mitochondrial localization show the shortest phylogenetic distances to their closest prokaryotic relatives, compared with proteins of different prokaryotic origin or cellular localization. Altogether, our results shed new light on a long-standing question and provide compelling support for the late acquisition of mitochondria into a host that already had a proteome of chimaeric phylogenetic origin. We argue that mitochondrial endosymbiosis was one of the ultimate steps in eukaryogenesis and that it provided the definitive selective advantage to mitochondria-bearing eukaryotes over less complex forms.
Land-use change occurs nowhere more rapidly than in the tropics, where the imbalance between deforestation and forest regrowth has large consequences for the global carbon cycle. However, considerable uncertainty remains about the rate of biomass recovery in secondary forests, and how these rates are influenced by climate, landscape, and prior land use. Here we analyse aboveground biomass recovery during secondary succession in 45 forest sites and about 1,500 forest plots covering the major environmental gradients in the Neotropics. The studied secondary forests are highly productive and resilient. Aboveground biomass recovery after 20 years was on average 122 megagrams per hectare (Mg ha−1), corresponding to a net carbon uptake of 3.05 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, 11 times the uptake rate of old-growth forests. Aboveground biomass stocks took a median time of 66 years to recover to 90% of old-growth values. Aboveground biomass recovery after 20 years varied 11.3-fold (from 20 to 225 Mg ha−1) across sites, and this recovery increased with water availability (higher local rainfall and lower climatic water deficit). We present a biomass recovery map of Latin America, which illustrates geographical and climatic variation in carbon sequestration potential during forest regrowth. The map will support policies to minimize forest loss in areas where biomass resilience is naturally low (such as seasonally dry forest regions) and promote forest regeneration and restoration in humid tropical lowland areas with high biomass resilience.
The Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa is the largest on record, responsible for over 28,599 cases and more than 11,299 deaths. Genome sequencing in viral outbreaks is desirable to characterize the infectious agent and determine its evolutionary rate. Genome sequencing also allows the identification of signatures of host adaptation, identification and monitoring of diagnostic targets, and characterization of responses to vaccines and treatments. The Ebola virus (EBOV) genome substitution rate in the Makona strain has been estimated at between 0.87 × 10−3 and 1.42 × 10−3 mutations per site per year. This is equivalent to 16–27 mutations in each genome, meaning that sequences diverge rapidly enough to identify distinct sub-lineages during a prolonged epidemic. Genome sequencing provides a high-resolution view of pathogen evolution and is increasingly sought after for outbreak surveillance. Sequence data may be used to guide control measures, but only if the results are generated quickly enough to inform interventions. Genomic surveillance during the epidemic has been sporadic owing to a lack of local sequencing capacity coupled with practical difficulties transporting samples to remote sequencing facilities. To address this problem, here we devise a genomic surveillance system that utilizes a novel nanopore DNA sequencing instrument. In April 2015 this system was transported in standard airline luggage to Guinea and used for real-time genomic surveillance of the ongoing epidemic. We present sequence data and analysis of 142 EBOV samples collected during the period March to October 2015. We were able to generate results less than 24 h after receiving an Ebola-positive sample, with the sequencing process takingas little as 15–60 min. We show that real-time genomic surveillance is possible in resource-limited settings and can be established rapidly to monitor outbreaks.
Chronic opiate use induces opiate dependence, which is characterized by extremely unpleasant physical and emotional feelings after drug use is terminated. Both the rewarding effects of a drug and the desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms motivate continued drug use, and the nucleus accumbens is important for orchestrating both processes. While multiple inputs to the nucleus accumbens regulate reward, little is known about the nucleus accumbens circuitry underlying withdrawal. Here we identify the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus as a prominent input to the nucleus accumbens mediating the expression of opiate-withdrawal-induced physical signs and aversive memory. Activity in the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus to nucleus accumbens pathway is necessary and sufficient to mediate behavioural aversion. Selectively silencing this pathway abolishes aversive symptoms in two different mouse models of opiate withdrawal. Chronic morphine exposure selectively potentiates excitatory transmission between the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus and D2-receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons via synaptic insertion of GluA2-lacking AMPA receptors. Notably, in vivo optogenetic depotentiation restores normal transmission at these synapses and robustly suppresses morphine withdrawal symptoms. This links morphine-evoked pathway- and cell-type-specific plasticity in the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus to nucleus accumbens circuit to opiate dependence, and suggests that reprogramming this circuit holds promise for treating opiate addiction.
A 3.7 Å resolution structure for the yeast U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP, a complex involved in splicing, allows a better appreciation of the architecture of the tri-snRNP, and offers new functional insights into the activation of the spliceosome and the assembly of the catalytic core.
Ferrofluids exhibit unusual hydrodynamic effects owing to the magnetic nature of their constituents. As magnetization increases, a classical ferrofluid undergoes a Rosensweig instability and creates self-organized, ordered surface structures or droplet crystals. Quantum ferrofluids such as Bose–Einstein condensates with strong dipolar interactions also display superfluidity. The field of dipolar quantum gases is motivated by the search for new phases of matter that break continuous symmetries. The simultaneous breaking of continuous symmetries such as the phase invariance in a superfluid state and the translational symmetry in a crystal provides the basis for these new states of matter. However, interaction-induced crystallization in a superfluid has not yet been observed. Here we use in situ imaging to directly observe the spontaneous transition from an unstructured superfluid to an ordered arrangement of droplets in an atomic dysprosium Bose–Einstein condensate. By using a Feshbach resonance to control the interparticle interactions, we induce a finite-wavelength instability and observe discrete droplets in a triangular structure, the number of which grows as the numberof atoms increases. We find that these structured states are surprisingly long-lived and observe hysteretic behaviour, which is typical for a crystallization process and in close analogy to the Rosensweig instability. Our system exhibits both superfluidity and, as we show here, spontaneous translational symmetry breaking. Although our observations do not probe superfluidity in the structured states, if the droplets establish a common phase via weak links, then our system is a very good candidate for a supersolid ground state.
Laser-plasma accelerators (LPAs) are capable of accelerating charged particles to very high energies in very compact structures. In theory, therefore, they offer advantages over conventional, large-scale particle accelerators. However, the energy gain in a single-stage LPA can be limited by laser diffraction, dephasing, electron-beam loading and laser-energy depletion. The problem of laser diffraction can be addressed by using laser-pulse guiding and preformed plasma waveguides to maintain the required laser intensity over distances of many Rayleigh lengths; dephasing can be mitigated by longitudinal tailoring of the plasma density; and beam loading can be controlled by proper shaping of the electron beam. To increase the beam energy further, it is necessary to tackle the problem of the depletion of laser energy, by sequencing the accelerator into stages, each powered by a separate laser pulse. Here, we present results from an experiment that demonstrates such staging. Two LPA stages were coupled over a short distance (as is needed to preserve the average acceleration gradient) by a plasma mirror. Stable electron beams from a first LPA were focused to a twenty-micrometre radius—by a discharge capillary-based active plasma lens—into a second LPA, such that the beams interacted with the wakefield excited by a separate laser. Staged acceleration by the wakefield of the second stage is detected via an energy gain of 100 megaelectronvolts for a subset of the electron beam. Changing the arrival time of the electron beam with respect to the second-stage laser pulse allowed us to reconstruct the temporal wakefield structure and to determine the plasma density. Our results indicate that the fundamental limitation to energy gain presented by laser depletion can be overcome by using staged acceleration, suggesting a way of reaching the electron energies required for collider applications.
The identification of a set of genetic variations that are strongly associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia provides insights into the neurobiology of this destructive disease.
The genome sequence of the marine flowering plant eelgrass (Zostera marina) sheds light on how marine algae evolved into land plants before moving back to the sea.
WebSchizophrenia is associated with genetic variation at the major histocompatibility complex locus; this study reveals that alleles at this locus associate with schizophrenia in proportion to their tendency to generate greater expression of complement component 4 (C4A) genes and that C4 promotes the elimination of synpases.
Inflammasomes are intracellular protein complexes that drive the activation of inflammatory caspases. So far, four inflammasomes involving NLRP1, NLRP3, NLRC4 and AIM2 have been described that recruit the common adaptor protein ASC to activate caspase-1, leading to the secretion of mature IL-1β and IL-18 proteins. The NLRP3 inflammasome has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several acquired inflammatory diseases as well as cryopyrin-associated periodic fever syndromes (CAPS) caused by inherited NLRP3 mutations. Potassium efflux is a common step that is essential for NLRP3 inflammasome activation induced by many stimuli. Despite extensive investigation, the molecular mechanism leading to NLRP3 activation in response to potassium efflux remains unknown. Here we report the identification of NEK7, a member of the family of mammalian NIMA-related kinases (NEK proteins), as an NLRP3-binding protein that acts downstream of potassium efflux to regulate NLRP3 oligomerization and activation. In the absence of NEK7, caspase-1 activation and IL-1β release were abrogated in response to signals that activate NLRP3, but not NLRC4 or AIM2 inflammasomes. NLRP3-activating stimuli promoted the NLRP3–NEK7 interaction in a process that was dependent on potassium efflux. NLRP3 associated with the catalytic domain of NEK7, but the catalytic activity of NEK7 was shown to be dispensable for activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Activated macrophages formed a high-molecular-mass NLRP3–NEK7 complex, which, along with ASC oligomerization and ASC speck formation, was abrogated in the absence of NEK7. NEK7 was required for macrophages containing the CAPS-associated NLRP3(R258W) activating mutation to activate caspase-1. Mouse chimaeras reconstituted with wild-type, Nek7−/− or Nlrp3−/− haematopoietic cells showed that NEK7 was required for NLRP3 inflammasome activation in vivo. These studies demonstrate that NEK7 is an essential protein that acts downstream of potassium efflux to mediate NLRP3 inflammasome assembly and activation.
Seagrasses colonized the sea on at least three independent occasions to form the basis of one of the most productive and widespread coastal ecosystems on the planet. Here we report the genome of Zostera marina (L.), the first, to our knowledge, marine angiosperm to be fully sequenced. This reveals unique insights into the genomic losses and gains involved in achieving the structural and physiological adaptations required for its marine lifestyle, arguably the most severe habitat shift ever accomplished by flowering plants. Key angiosperm innovations that were lost include the entire repertoire of stomatal genes, genes involved in the synthesis of terpenoids and ethylene signalling, and genes for ultraviolet protection and phytochromes for far-red sensing. Seagrasses have also regained functions enabling them to adjust to full salinity. Their cell walls contain all of the polysaccharides typical of land plants, but also contain polyanionic, low-methylated pectins and sulfated galactans, a feature shared with the cell walls of all macroalgae and that is important for ion homoeostasis, nutrient uptake and O2/CO2 exchange through leaf epidermal cells. The Z. marina genome resource will markedly advance a wide range of functional ecological studies from adaptation of marine ecosystems under climate warming, to unravelling the mechanisms of osmoregulation under high salinities that may further inform our understanding of the evolution of salt tolerance in crop plants.
The complex interplay of spin, charge, orbital and lattice degrees of freedom provides a plethora of exotic phases and physical phenomena. In recent years, complex spin topologies have emerged as a consequence of the electronic band structure and the interplay between spin and spin–orbit coupling in materials. Here we produce complex topologies of electrical polarization—namely, nanometre-scale vortex–antivortex (that is, clockwise–anticlockwise) arrays that are reminiscent of rotational spin topologies—by making use of the competition between charge, orbital and lattice degrees of freedom in superlattices of alternating lead titanate and strontium titanate layers. Atomic-scale mapping of the polar atomic displacements by scanning transmission electron microscopy reveals the presence of long-range ordered vortex–antivortex arrays that exhibit nearly continuous polarization rotation. Phase-field modelling confirms that the vortex array is the low-energy state for a range of superlattice periods. Within this range, the large gradient energy from the vortex structure is counterbalanced by the corresponding large reduction in overall electrostatic energy (which would otherwise arise from polar discontinuities at the lead titanate/strontium titanate interfaces) and the elastic energy associated with epitaxial constraints and domain formation. These observations have implications for the creation of new states of matter (such as dipolar skyrmions, hedgehog states) and associated phenomena in ferroic materials, such as electrically controllable chirality.
Depleted uranium is a mildly radioactive waste product that is stockpiled worldwide. The chemical reactivity of uranium complexes is well documented, including the stoichiometric activation of small molecules of biological and industrial interest such as H2O, CO2, CO, or N2 (refs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), but catalytic transformations with actinides remain underexplored in comparison to transition-metal catalysis. For reduction of water to H2, complexes of low-valent uranium show the highest potential, but are known to react violently and uncontrollably forming stable bridging oxo or uranyl species. As a result, only a few oxidations of uranium with water have been reported so far; all stoichiometric. Catalytic H2 production, however, requires the reductive recovery of the catalyst via a challenging cleavage of the uranium-bound oxygen-containing ligand. Here we report the electrocatalytic water reduction observed with a trisaryloxide U(iii) complex [((Ad,MeArO)3mes)U] (refs 18 and 19)—the first homogeneous uranium catalyst for H2 production from H2O. The catalytic cycle involves rare terminal U(iv)–OH and U(v)=O complexes, which have been isolated, characterized, and proven to be integral parts of the catalytic mechanism. The recognition of uranium compounds as potentially useful catalysts suggests new applications for such light actinides. The development of uranium-based catalysts provides new perspectives on nuclear waste management strategies, by suggesting that mildly radioactive depleted uranium—an abundant waste product of the nuclear power industry—could be a valuable resource.
Interfacing a single photon with another quantum system is a key capability in modern quantum information science. It allows quantum states of matter, such as spin states of atoms, atomic ensembles or solids, to be prepared and manipulated by photon counting and, in particular, to be distributed over long distances. Such light–matter interfaces have become crucial to fundamental tests of quantum physics and realizations of quantum networks. Here we report non-classical correlations between single photons and phonons—the quanta of mechanical motion—from a nanomechanical resonator. We implement a full quantum protocol involving initialization of the resonator in its quantum ground state of motion and subsequent generation and read-out of correlated photon–phonon pairs. The observed violation of a Cauchy–Schwarz inequality is clear evidence for the non-classical nature of the mechanical state generated. Ourresults demonstrate the availability of on-chip solid-state mechanical resonators as light–matter quantum interfaces. The performance we achieved will enable studies of macroscopic quantum phenomena as well as applications in quantum communication, as quantum memories and as quantum transducers.
The X-ray crystal structure of a two-pore channel from Arabidopsis thaliana reveals the structure and the mechanism of voltage gating of this class of ubiquitous cation-selective ion channels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sustains human health and its loss can be mitigated by sustainable management.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two studies find that an intracellular quality-control mechanism called autophagy is regulated by nuclear receptor proteins that govern the expression of autophagy genes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This study determines the structure of a branched lariat RNA, providing insights into rearrangement of the intron between the two steps of RNA splicing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
What gives quantum computers that extra oomph over their classical digital counterparts? An intrinsic, measurable aspect of quantum mechanics called contextuality, it now emerges.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Transcriptional enhancers are crucial regulators of gene expression and animal development and the characterization of their genomic organization, spatiotemporal activities and sequence properties is a key goal in modern biology. Here we characterize the in vivo activity of 7,705 Drosophila melanogaster enhancer candidates covering 13.5% of the non-coding non-repetitive genome throughout embryogenesis. 3,557 (46%) candidates are active, suggesting a high density with 50,000 to 100,000 developmental enhancers genome-wide. The vast majority of enhancers display specific spatial patterns that are highly dynamic during development. Most appear to regulate their neighbouring genes, suggesting that the cis-regulatory genome is organized locally into domains, which are supported by chromosomal domains, insulator binding and genome evolution. However, 12 to 21 per cent of enhancers appear to skip non-expressed neighbours and regulate a more distal gene. Finally, we computationally identify cis-regulatory motifs that are predictive and required for enhancer activity, as we validate experimentally. This work provides global insights into the organization of an animal regulatory genome and the make-up of enhancer sequences and confirms and generalizes principles from previous studies. All enhancer patterns are annotated manually with a controlled vocabulary and all results are available through a web interface (http://enhancers.starklab.org), including the raw images of all microscopy slides for manual inspection at arbitrary zoom levels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.