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Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Advanced Online Publications Articles

  • Current Issue of Nature

    Nature - Issue - nature.com science feeds

  • Trading places

  • Scientists have a valuable part to play in clarifying the impacts of a proposed trade treaty between the United States and Europe.

  • Wakey wakey

  • Sleeping-beauty papers offer hope that authors of uncited works are in good company.

  • Silicon smarts

  • A package of articles in Nature assesses the state of artificial-intelligence research.

  • Eat insects for fun, not to help the environment

  • Insects are an excellent source of sustainable protein, but people will only be persuaded to eat them if they seem appealing, says Ophelia Deroy.

  • Marine ecology: Ocean survey finds huge diversity

  • After a 3.5-year voyage at sea, scientists have discovered more than 100,000 new eukaryotic organisms, many existing in symbiotic relationships with each other.Scientists aboard the research schooner Tara collected some 35,000 ocean samples at 210 locations around the world, from as deep as

  • Neuroscience: Signals activate dormant stem cells

  • Dormant stem cells— and the signals that activate them — are widespread across surfaces in adult mouse brains.Yi Eve Sun and Siguang Li of Tongji University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China, and their colleagues analysed patterns of gene expression in individual cells

  • Palaeoclimatology: A breath of ancient air

  • One-million-year-old air extracted from bubbles in an Antarctic ice core has enabled the reconstruction of the oldest atmospheric compositions yet studied.Glaciers flowing over raised bedrock in Allan Hills, Antarctica, brought long-sought-after blue ice near to the surface, providing an accessible source of ancient air.

  • Cancer biology: Cancer-cell transfer filmed

  • High-resolution microscopes have captured images of cancer cells transferring biological material to less-malignant cells, making these cells more cancerous.Many cells, including cancerous ones, shed tiny membrane-bound sacs called vesicles that contain a variety of molecules including RNA; these sacs are then taken up by

  • Climate science: Less sea ice, more Siberian snow

  • Shrinking Arctic sea ice leads to heavier snows in western Siberia. This is some of the first evidence for how low sea-ice levels in the Arctic autumn affect precipitation in neighbouring regions the following winter.A team led by Martin Wegmann at the University of

  • Animal behaviour: Crafty crows keep their tools handy

  • A crow species renowned for its use of tools has a time-saving trick— stashing the same tool for future use.New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) invest much time and energy turning sticks into hooks to extract food from small cavities. To see

  • Cancer genetics: Skin riddled with cancer mutations

  • More than one-quarter of cells in ageing, sun-exposed skin carry mutations that are known to drive cancer— even though the skin continues to function normally.To understand how healthy cells can mutate to form cancers, Philip Jones of the University of Cambridge, UK, Peter

  • Metabolism: Potential obesity drug from vine

  • A compound found in the roots of the 'thunder god' vine could be a weight-loss drug, a study in mice suggests.Umut Ozcan of Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts and his colleagues used a database of gene expression in human cells treated with various molecules

  • Materials: Printed spider webs get tough

  • Using a 3D printer, researchers have created spider-web analogues out of elastic polymer threads and tweaked their architectures to maximize the webs' strength.Markus Buehler at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and his colleagues printed synthetic webs (pictured) and added various

  • Potential flaws in genomics paper scrutinized on Twitter

  • Reanalysis of a study that compared gene expression in mice and humans tests social media as a forum for discussing research results.

  • The week in science: 22–28 May 2015

  • Europe’s wild birds are in peril; the LHC breaks an energy record; and Nobel-prizewinning mathematician John Nash dies.

  • Giant international trade treaties centre on science

  • Proposed deals have potential to boost research, but also to weaken health and environmental protections.

  • Antibiotic alternatives rev up bacterial arms race

  • From predatory microbes to toxic metals, nature is inspiring new ways to treat infections.

  • Big compromises needed to meet carbon-emissions goal

  • Independent assessments of national climate plans find little common ground between wealthy and developing countries.

  • Ebola teaches tough lessons about rapid research

  • Public-health officials make plans for how to speed up responses to tropical-disease outbreaks.

  • Artificial-windpipe surgeon committed misconduct

  • Papers authored by Paolo Macchiarini misrepresented success of pioneering procedure.

  • Military technology: Laser weapons get real

  • Long a staple of science fiction, laser weapons are edging closer to the battlefield— thanks to optical fibres.

  • Animal behaviour: Inside the cunning, caring and greedy minds of fish

  • By revealing that fish cooperate, cheat and punish, Redouan Bshary has challenged ideas about brain evolution.

  • Robotics: Ethics of artificial intelligence

  • Four leading researchers share their concerns and solutions for reducing societal risks from intelligent machines.

  • Information theory: Knowledge and know-how

  • Philip Ball examines a study unpicking the broad ramifications of information flows.

  • Books in brief

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

  • Laboratory history: The chemistry chronicles

  • Derek Lowe relishes a celebration of the lab on its long march through time.

  • Instrumentation: The mystery of the microscope in mud

  • A rare brass microscope was discovered in mud dredged from canals in Delft, the Netherlands, in December 2014. The instrument (pictured, left) is thought to have been made by Dutch pioneer microscopist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723; see P.BallNature520, 156;10.1038/520156a

  • Environment: Deforestation soars in the Amazon

  • Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon is on the rise and not declining as you imply (Nature520, 20–23;10.1038/520020a2015). Forest clearance has exploded since August 2014, according to satellite data from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research and

  • Plant breeding: UK bioscientists push for crop policy

  • In assessing the next generation of plant-breeding techniques such as gene editing (Nature520, 131–132;10.1038/520131b2015), the European Union (EU) should take into account criticisms of its current regulatory system for new crop varieties.Last year's statement by

  • Conservation: Marine protection is a UK priority

  • Scotland's government has responsibility for nature conservation in 61% of UK waters. As programme manager for the Marine Conservation Society in Scotland, I agree that the United Kingdom and its devolved governments should be making marine conservation a priority (see also Nature520, 585

  • Medical research: Subject to reflection

  • Most scientists who study disease carry out their research with an eye to treating others— but a few have only to look at their own bodies to feel the need for a cure.

  • Turning point: Roberto Kolter

  • A microbiologist dispenses career advice for his postdocs, but they had better bring their own funding.

  • Machine intelligence

  • When the phrase 'artificial intelligence' was first coined in 1956 by computer scientists, expectations for the development of machines with human-like intelligent reasoning and behaviour were high, but the field was in for a long wait. In the decades to come, the term referred largely

  • Deep learning

  • Deep learning allows computational models that are composed of multiple processing layers to learn representations of data with multiple levels of abstraction. These methods have dramatically improved the state-of-the-art in speech recognition, visual object recognition, object detection and many other domains such as drug discovery

  • Reinforcement learning improves behaviour from evaluative feedback

  • Reinforcement learning is a branch of machine learning concerned with using experience gained through interacting with the world and evaluative feedback to improve a system's ability to make behavioural decisions. It has been called the artificial intelligence problem in a microcosm because learning algorithms must

  • Probabilistic machine learning and artificial intelligence

  • How can a machine learn from experience? Probabilistic modelling provides a framework for understanding what learning is, and has therefore emerged as one of the principal theoretical and practical approaches for designing machines that learn from data acquired through experience. The probabilistic framework, which describes

  • Science, technology and the future of small autonomous drones

  • We are witnessing the advent of a new era of robots— drones — that can autonomously fly in natural and man-made environments. These robots, often associated with defence applications, could have a major impact on civilian tasks, including transportation, communication, agriculture, disaster mitigation and

  • Design, fabrication and control of soft robots

  • Conventionally, engineers have employed rigid materials to fabricate precise, predictable robotic systems, which are easily modelled as rigid members connected at discrete joints. Natural systems, however, often match or exceed the performance of robotic systems with deformable bodies. Cephalopods, for example, achieve amazing feats of

  • From evolutionary computation to the evolution of things

  • Evolution has provided a source of inspiration for algorithm designers since the birth of computers. The resulting field, evolutionary computation, has been successful in solving engineering tasks ranging in outlook from the molecular to the astronomical. Today, the field is entering a new phase as

  • An excerpt from Dying For Dummies (2020)

  • A guide to the next stage of your life.

  • Correction

  • The map in the News Feature‘India by the numbers’ (Nature521, 142–143; 2015) omitted the province of Meghalaya. The full map can be seen at go.nature.com/h2ydqb.

  • Correction

  • The Correspondence 'Interim initiative for health in Iran' (Nature521, 32;10.1038/521032e2015) wrongly implied that A. A. Velayati is a volunteer for non-profit group IAPA; only H. Jamaati and S. M. Hashemian are IAPA volunteers.

  • Artificial intelligence: Robots with instincts

  • An evolutionary algorithm has been developed that allows robots to adapt to unforeseen change. The robots learn behaviours quickly and instinctively by mining the memory of their past achievements. See Letter p.503

  • Cell biology: Polarized transport in the Golgi apparatus

  • Proteins can be transported in either direction across a cellular organelle called the Golgi apparatus. It emerges that CDC42, a molecule that confers cell polarity, acts to control the directionality of transport in the Golgi. See Letter p.529

  • Ocean science: The origins of a climate oscillation

  • An index of water-circulation strength in the North Atlantic Ocean has been derived from sea-level measurements. This provides fresh evidence of the ocean's leading role in multidecadal climate variability. See Letter p.508

  • Cancer metabolism: A waste of insulin interference

  • Many people with cancer die from a wasting disorder called cancer-associated cachexia. Two studies in fruit flies show that inhibition of insulin signalling causes cachexia-like organ wasting.

  • Microbiology: Taking the bad with the good

  • Modelling of the interactions between antibiotic production and antibiotic degradation reveals that these opposing activities are key to maintaining diversity in microbial communities. See Letter p.516

  • Palaeoanthropology: The middle Pliocene gets crowded

  • New hominin fossils discovered in Ethiopia, dated to between 3.5 million and 3.3 million years ago, suggest that species diversity may have been as high during early human evolution as in later periods. See Article p.483

  • New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity

  • Middle Pliocene hominin species diversity has been a subject of debate over the past two decades, particularly after the naming of Australopithecus bahrelghazali and Kenyanthropus platyops in addition to the well-known species Australopithecus afarensis. Further analyses continue to support the proposal that

  • Whole–genome characterization of chemoresistant ovarian cancer

  • Patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC) have experienced little improvement in overall survival, and standard treatment has not advanced beyond platinum-based combination chemotherapy, during the past 30 years. To understand the drivers of clinical phenotypes better, here we use whole-genome sequencing of tumour and

  • A kiloparsec-scale internal shock collision in the jet of a nearby radio galaxy

  • Jets of highly energized plasma with relativistic velocities are associated with black holes ranging in mass from a few times that of the Sun to the billion-solar-mass black holes at the centres of galaxies. A popular but unconfirmed hypothesis to explain how the plasma is energized is the‘internal shock model’, in which the relativistic flow is unsteady. Faster components in the jet catch up to and collide with slower ones, leading to internal shocks that accelerate particles and generate magnetic fields. This mechanism can explain the variable, high-energy emission from a diverse set of objects, with the best indirect evidence being the unseen fast relativistic flow inferred to energize slower components in X-ray binary jets. Mapping of the kinematic profiles in resolved jets has revealed precessing and helical patterns in X-ray binaries, apparent superluminal motions, and the ejection of knots (bright components) from standing shocks in the jets of active galaxies. Observations revealing the structure and evolution of an internal shock in action have, however, remained elusive, hindering measurement of the physical parameters and ultimate efficiency of the mechanism. Here we report observations of a collision between two knots in the jet of nearby radio galaxy 3C 264. A bright knot with an apparent speed of (7.0 ± 0.8)c, where c is the speed of light in a vacuum, is in the incipient stages of a collision with a slower-moving knot of speed (1.8 ± 0.5)c justdownstream, resulting in brightening of both knots—as seen in the most recent epoch of imaging.

  • Extreme ultraviolet high-harmonic spectroscopy of solids

  • Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) high-harmonic radiation emerging from laser-driven atoms, molecules or plasmas underlies powerful attosecond spectroscopy techniques and provides insight into fundamental structural and dynamic properties of matter. The advancement of these spectroscopy techniques to study strong-field electron dynamics in condensed matter calls for the generation and manipulation of EUV radiation in bulk solids, but this capability has remained beyond the reach of optical sciences. Recent experiments and theoretical predictions paved the way to strong-field physics in solids by demonstrating the generation and optical control of deep ultraviolet radiation in bulk semiconductors, driven by femtosecond mid-infrared fields or the coherent up-conversion of terahertz fields to multi-octave spectra in the mid-infrared and optical frequencies. Here we demonstrate that thin films of SiO2 exposed to intense, few-cycle to sub-cycle pulses give rise to wideband coherent EUV radiation extending in energy to about 40 electronvolts. Our study indicates the association of the emitted EUV radiation with intraband currents of multi-petahertz frequency, induced in the lowest conduction band of SiO2. To demonstrate the applicability of high-harmonic spectroscopy to solids, we exploit the EUV spectra to gain access to fine details of the energy dispersion profile of the conduction band that are as yet inaccessible by photoemission spectroscopy in wide-bandgap dielectrics. In addition, we use the EUV spectra to trace the attosecond control of the intraband electron motion induced by synthesized optical transients. Our work advances lightwave electronics in condensed matter into the realm of multi-petahertz frequencies and their attosecond control, and marks the advent of solid-state EUV photonics.

  • Robots that can adapt like animals

  • Robots have transformed many industries, most notably manufacturing, and have the power to deliver tremendous benefits to society, such as in search and rescue, disaster response, health care and transportation. They are also invaluable tools for scientific exploration in environments inaccessible to humans, from distant planets to deep oceans. A major obstacle to their widespread adoption in more complex environments outside factories is their fragility. Whereas animals can quickly adapt to injuries, current robots cannot‘think outside the box’ to find a compensatory behaviour when they are damaged: they are limited to their pre-specified self-sensing abilities, can diagnose only anticipated failure modes, and require a pre-programmed contingency plan for every type of potential damage, an impracticality for complex robots. A promising approach to reducing robot fragility involves having robots learn appropriate behaviours in response to damage, but current techniques are slow even with small, constrained search spaces. Here we introduce an intelligent trial-and-error algorithm that allows robots to adaptto damage in less than two minutes in large search spaces without requiring self-diagnosis or pre-specified contingency plans. Before the robot is deployed, it uses a novel technique to create a detailed map of the space of high-performing behaviours. This map represents the robot’s prior knowledge about what behaviours it can perform and their value. When the robot is damaged, it uses this prior knowledge to guide a trial-and-error learning algorithm that conducts intelligent experiments to rapidly discover a behaviour that compensates for the damage. Experiments reveal successful adaptations for a legged robot injured in five different ways, including damaged, broken, and missing legs, and for a robotic arm with joints broken in 14 different ways. This new algorithm will enable more robust, effective, autonomous robots, and may shed light on the principles that animals use to adapt to injury.

  • Ocean impact on decadal Atlantic climate variability revealed by sea-level observations

  • Decadal variability is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences. Prominently, this is manifested in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) in sea surface temperatures. Positive (negative) phases of the AMO coincide with warmer (colder) North Atlantic sea surface temperatures. The AMO is linked with decadal climate fluctuations, such as Indian and Sahel rainfall, European summer precipitation, Atlantic hurricanes and variations in global temperatures. It is widely believed that ocean circulation drives the phase changes of the AMO by controlling ocean heat content. However, there are no direct observations of ocean circulation of sufficient length to support this, leading to questions about whether the AMO is controlled from another source. Here we provide observational evidence of the widely hypothesized link between ocean circulation and the AMO. We take a new approach, using sea level along the east coast of the United States to estimate ocean circulation on decadal timescales. We show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres—the intergyre region. These circulation changes affect the decadal evolution of North Atlantic heat content and, consequently, the phases of the AMO. The Atlantic overturning circulation is declining and the AMO is moving to a negative phase. This may offer a brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures, but in the coupled system we describe, there are compensating effects. In this case, the negative AMO is associated with a continued acceleration of sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States.

  • Diverse coupling of neurons to populations in sensory cortex

  • A large population of neurons can, in principle, produce an astronomical number of distinct firing patterns. In cortex, however, these patterns lie in a space of lower dimension, as if individual neurons were“obedient members of a huge orchestra”. Here we use recordings from the visual cortex of mouse (Mus musculus) and monkey (Macaca mulatta) to investigate the relationship between individual neurons and the population, and to establish the underlying circuit mechanisms. We show that neighbouring neurons can differ in their coupling to the overall firing of the population, ranging from strongly coupled ‘choristers’ to weakly coupled ‘soloists’. Population coupling is largely independent of sensory preferences, and it is a fixed cellular attribute, invariant to stimulus conditions. Neurons with high population coupling are more strongly affected by non-sensory behavioural variables such as motor intention. Population coupling reflects a causal relationship, predicting the response of a neuron to optogenetically driven increases in local activity. Moreover, population coupling indicates synaptic connectivity; the population coupling of a neuron, measured in vivo, predicted subsequent in vitro estimates of the number of synapses received from its neighbours. Finally, population coupling provides a compact summary of population activity; knowledge of the population couplings of n neurons predicts a substantial portion of their n2 pairwise correlations. Population coupling therefore represents a novel, simple measure that characterizes the relationship of each neuron to a larger population, explaining seemingly complex network firing patterns in termsof basic circuit variables.

  • Counteraction of antibiotic production and degradation stabilizes microbial communities

  • A major challenge in theoretical ecology is understanding how natural microbial communities support species diversity, and in particular how antibiotic-producing, -sensitive and -resistant species coexist. While cyclic‘rock–paper–scissors’ interactions can stabilize communities in spatial environments, coexistence in unstructured environments remains unexplained. Here, using simulations and analytical models, we show that the opposing actions of antibiotic production and degradation enable coexistence even in well-mixed environments. Coexistence depends on three-way interactions in which an antibiotic-degrading species attenuates the inhibitory interactions between two other species. These interactions enable coexistence that is robust to substantial differences in inherent species growth rates andto invasion by ‘cheating’ species that cease to produce or degrade antibiotics. At least two antibiotics are required for stability, with greater numbers of antibiotics enabling more complex communities and diverse dynamic behaviours ranging from stable fixed points to limit cycles and chaos. Together, these results show how multi-species antibiotic interactions can generate ecological stability in both spatially structured and mixed microbial communities, suggesting strategies for engineering synthetic ecosystems and highlighting the importance of toxin production and degradation for microbial biodiversity.

  • Global genetic analysis in mice unveils central role for cilia in congenital heart disease

  • Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most prevalent birth defect, affecting nearly 1% of live births; the incidence of CHD is up to tenfold higher in human fetuses. A genetic contribution is strongly suggested by the association of CHD with chromosome abnormalities and high recurrence risk. Here we report findings from a recessive forward genetic screen in fetal mice, showing that cilia and cilia-transduced cell signalling have important roles in the pathogenesis of CHD. The cilium is an evolutionarily conserved organelle projecting from the cell surface with essential roles in diverse cellular processes. Using echocardiography, we ultrasound scanned 87,355 chemically mutagenized C57BL/6J fetal mice and recovered 218 CHD mouse models. Whole-exome sequencing identified 91 recessive CHD mutations in 61 genes. This included 34 cilia-related genes, 16 genes involved in cilia-transduced cell signalling, and 10 genes regulating vesicular trafficking, a pathway important for ciliogenesis and cell signalling. Surprisingly, many CHD genes encoded interacting proteins, suggesting that an interactome protein network may provide a larger genomic context for CHD pathogenesis. These findings provide novel insights into the potential Mendelian genetic contribution to CHD in the fetal population, a segment of the human population not well studied. We note that the pathways identified show overlap with CHD candidate genes recovered in CHD patients, suggesting that they may have relevance to the more complex genetics of CHD overall. These CHD mouse models and ggt;8,000 incidental mutations have been sperm archived, creating a rich public resource for human disease modelling.

  • Coordination of mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis during ageing in C. elegans

  • Impaired mitochondrial maintenance in disparate cell types is a shared hallmark of many human pathologies and ageing. How mitochondrial biogenesis coordinates with the removal of damaged or superfluous mitochondria to maintain cellular homeostasis is not well understood. Here we show that mitophagy, a selective type of autophagy targeting mitochondria for degradation, interfaces with mitochondrial biogenesis to regulate mitochondrial content and longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans. We find that DCT-1 is a key mediator of mitophagy and longevity assurance under conditions of stress in C. elegans. Impairment of mitophagy compromises stress resistance and triggers mitochondrial retrograde signalling through the SKN-1 transcription factor that regulates both mitochondrial biogenesis genes and mitophagy by enhancing DCT-1 expression. Our findings reveal a homeostatic feedback loop that integrates metabolic signals to coordinate the biogenesis and turnover of mitochondria. Uncoupling of these two processes during ageing contributes to overproliferation of damaged mitochondria and decline of cellular function.

  • Coordinated regulation of bidirectional COPI transport at the Golgi by CDC42

  • The Golgi complex has a central role in the intracellular sorting of secretory proteins. Anterograde transport through the Golgi has been explained by the movement of Golgi cisternae, known as cisternal maturation. Because this explanation is now appreciated to be incomplete, interest has developed in understanding tubules that connect the Golgi cisternae. Here we show that the coat protein I (COPI) complex sorts anterograde cargoes into these tubules in human cells. Moreover, the small GTPase CDC42 regulates bidirectional Golgi transport by targeting the dual functions of COPI in cargo sorting and carrier formation. CDC42 also directly imparts membrane curvature to promote COPI tubule formation. Our findings further reveal that COPI tubular transport complements cisternal maturation in explaining how anterograde Golgi transport is achieved, and that bidirectional COPI transport is modulated by environmental cues through CDC42.

  • Defining fundamental steps in the assembly of the Drosophila RNAi enzyme complex

  • Small RNAs such as small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) silence the expression of their complementary target messenger RNAs via the formation of effector RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs), which contain Argonaute (Ago) family proteins at their core. Although loading of siRNA duplexes into

  • MAD2L2 controls DNA repair at telomeres and DNA breaks by inhibiting 5′ end resection

  • Appropriate repair of DNA lesions and the inhibition of DNA repair activities at telomeres are crucial to prevent genomic instability. By fuelling the generation of genetic alterations and by compromising cell viability, genomic instability is a driving force in cancer and ageing. Here we identify MAD2L2 (also known as MAD2B or REV7) through functional genetic screening as a novel factor controlling DNA repair activities at mammalian telomeres. We show that MAD2L2 accumulates at uncapped telomeres and promotes non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ)-mediated fusion of deprotected chromosome ends and genomic instability. MAD2L2 depletion causes elongated 3′ telomeric overhangs, indicating that MAD2L2 inhibits 5′ end resection. End resection blocks NHEJ while committing to homology-directed repair, and is under the control of 53BP1, RIF1 and PTIP. Consistent with MAD2L2 promoting NHEJ-mediated telomere fusion by inhibiting 5′ end resection, knockdown of the nucleases CTIP or EXO1 partially restores telomere-driven genomic instability in MAD2L2-depleted cells. Control of DNA repair by MAD2L2 is not limited to telomeres. MAD2L2 also accumulates and inhibits end resection at irradiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks and promotes end-joining of DNA double-strand breaks in several settings, including during immunoglobulin class switch recombination. These activities of MAD2L2 depend on ATM kinase activity, RNF8, RNF168, 53BP1 and RIF1, but not on PTIP, REV1 and REV3, the latter two acting with MAD2L2 in translesion synthesis. Together, our data establish MAD2L2 as a crucial contributor to the control of DNA repair activity by 53BP1 that promotes NHEJ by inhibiting 5′ end resection downstream of RIF1.

  • REV7 counteracts DNA double-strand break resection and affects PARP inhibition

  • Error-free repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is achieved by homologous recombination (HR), and BRCA1 is an important factor for this repair pathway. In the absence of BRCA1-mediated HR, the administration of PARP inhibitors induces synthetic lethality of tumour cells of patients with breast or ovarian cancers. Despite the benefit of this tailored therapy, drug resistance can occur by HR restoration. Genetic reversion of BRCA1-inactivating mutations can be the underlying mechanism of drug resistance, but this does not explain resistance in all cases. In particular, little is known about BRCA1-independent restoration of HR. Here we show that loss of REV7 (also known as MAD2L2) in mouse and human cell lines re-establishes CTIP-dependent end resection of DSBs in BRCA1-deficient cells, leading to HR restoration and PARP inhibitor resistance, which is reversed by ATM kinase inhibition. REV7 is recruited to DSBs in a manner dependent on the H2AX–MDC1–RNF8–RNF168–53BP1 chromatin pathway, and seems to block HR and promote end joining in addition to its regulatory role in DNA damage tolerance. Finally, we establish that REV7 blocks DSB resection to promote non-homologous end-joining during immunoglobulin class switch recombination. Our results reveal an unexpected crucial function of REV7 downstream of 53BP1 in coordinating pathological DSB repair pathway choices in BRCA1-deficient cells.

  • Atomic structure of anthrax protective antigen pore elucidates toxin translocation

  • Anthrax toxin, comprising protective antigen, lethal factor, and oedema factor, is the major virulence factor of Bacillus anthracis, an agent that causes high mortality in humans and animals. Protective antigen forms oligomeric prepores that undergo conversion to membrane-spanning pores by endosomal acidification, and these pores translocate the enzymes lethal factor and oedema factor into the cytosol of target cells. Protective antigen is not only a vaccine component and therapeutic target for anthrax infections but also an excellent model system for understanding the mechanism of protein translocation. On the basis of biochemical and electrophysiological results, researchers have proposed that a phi (Φ)-clamp composed of phenylalanine (Phe)427 residues of protective antigen catalyses protein translocation via a charge-state-dependent Brownian ratchet. Although atomic structures of protective antigen prepores are available, how protective antigen senses low pH, converts to active pore, and translocates lethal factor and oedema factor are not well defined without an atomic model of its pore. Here, by cryo-electron microscopy with direct electron counting, we determine the protective antigen pore structure at 2.9-Å resolution. The structure reveals the long-sought-after catalytic Φ-clamp and the membrane-spanning translocation channel, and supports the Brownian ratchet model for protein translocation. Comparisons of four structures reveal conformational changes in prepore to pore conversion that support a multi-step mechanism by which low pH is sensed and the membrane-spanning channel is formed.

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  • Cancer: Opening LOX to metastasis

  • New findings implicate the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX), secreted by oxygen-deprived breast cancer cells, in inducing bone lesions that precede and facilitate the spread of the cancer cells to the bone.

  • Cell biology: The micronucleus gets its big break

  • Extensive chromosomal rearrangement– chromothripsis – is seen in several cancers. Imaging and sequencing of single cells shows that this phenomenon can occur inside cellular anomalies known as micronuclei.

  • Microbiology: Exclusive networks in the sea

  • The identification of an exchange of nutrients and signalling molecules between a planktonic alga and a bacterium demonstrates that targeted mutualistic interactions occur across domains of life in the oceans.

  • Cancer: Precise control of localized signals

  • The tumour-suppressor protein PTEN is mostly found in the cell cytoplasm, tethered to endosome vesicles. This localization regulates the enzyme's activity towards specific lipids and influences its control of cell growth.

  • A prefrontal–thalamo–hippocampal circuit for goal-directed spatial navigation

  • Trajectory-dependent firing of neurons within the nucleus reuniens of the thalamus–hippocampus circuit predicted subsequent running direction, and disruption of this circuit reduced predictive firing in the hippocampus, suggesting that the thalamus is a key node in the integration of signals during goal-oriented navigation.

  • Chromothripsis from DNA damage in micronuclei

  • The mechanism for chromothripsis,“shattered” chromosomes that can be observed in cancer cells, is unknown; here, using live-cell imaging and single-cell sequencing, chromothripsis is shown to occur after a chromosome is isolated into a micronucleus, an abnormal nuclear structure.

  • Interaction and signalling between a cosmopolitan phytoplankton and associated bacteria

  • Interactions between primary producers and bacteria impact the physiology of both partners, alter the chemistry of their environment, and shape ecosystem diversity. In marine ecosystems, these interactions are difficult to study partly because the major photosynthetic organisms are microscopic, unicellular phytoplankton. Coastal phytoplankton communities are dominated by diatoms, which generate approximately 40% of marine primary production and form the base of many marine food webs. Diatoms co-occur with specific bacterial taxa, but the mechanisms of potential interactions are mostly unknown. Here we tease apart a bacterial consortium associated with a globally distributed diatom and find that a Sulfitobacter species promotes diatom cell division via secretion of the hormone indole-3-acetic acid, synthesized by the bacterium using both diatom-secreted and endogenous tryptophan. Indole-3-acetic acid and tryptophan serve as signalling molecules that are part of a complex exchange of nutrients, including diatom-excreted organosulfur molecules and bacterial-excreted ammonia. The potential prevalence of this mode of signalling in the oceans is corroborated by metabolite and metatranscriptome analyses that show widespread indole-3-acetic acid production by Sulfitobacter-related bacteria, particularly in coastal environments. Our study expands on the emerging recognition that marine microbial communities are part of tightly connected networks by providing evidence that these interactions are mediated through production and exchange of infochemicals.

  • The hypoxic cancer secretome induces pre-metastatic bone lesions through lysyl oxidase

  • Tumour metastasis is a complex process involving reciprocal interplay between cancer cells and host stroma at both primary and secondary sites, and is strongly influenced by microenvironmental factors such as hypoxia. Tumour-secreted proteins play a crucial role in these interactions and present strategic therapeutic potential. Metastasis of breast cancer to the bone affects approximately 85% of patients with advanced disease and renders them largely untreatable. Specifically, osteolytic bone lesions, where bone is destroyed, lead to debilitating skeletal complications and increased patient morbidity and mortality. The molecular interactions governing the early events of osteolytic lesion formation are currently unclear. Here we show hypoxia to be specifically associated with bone relapse in patients with oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Global quantitative analysis of the hypoxic secretome identified lysyl oxidase (LOX) as significantly associated with bone-tropism and relapse. High expression of LOX in primary breast tumours or systemic delivery of LOX leads to osteolytic lesion formation whereas silencing or inhibition of LOX activity abrogates tumour-driven osteolytic lesion formation. We identify LOX as a novel regulator of NFATc1-driven osteoclastogenesis, independent of RANK ligand, which disrupts normal bone homeostasis leading to the formation of focal pre-metastatic lesions. We show that these lesions subsequently provide a platform for circulating tumour cells to colonize and form bone metastases. Our study identifies a novel mechanism of regulation of bone homeostasis and metastasis, opening up opportunities for novel therapeutic intervention with important clinical implications.

  • Improving survival by exploiting tumour dependence on stabilized mutant p53 for treatment

  • Missense mutations in p53 generate aberrant proteins with abrogated tumour suppressor functions that can also acquire oncogenic gain-of-function activities that promote malignant progression, invasion, metastasis and chemoresistance. Mutant p53 (mutp53) proteins undergo massive constitutive stabilization specifically in tumours, which is the key requisite for the acquisition of gain-of-functions activities. Although currently 11 million patients worldwide live with tumours expressing highly stabilized mutp53, it is unknown whether mutp53 is a therapeutic target in vivo. Here we use a novel mutp53 mouse model expressing an inactivatable R248Q hotspot mutation (floxQ) to show that tumours depend on sustained mutp53 expression. Upon tamoxifen-induced mutp53 ablation, allotransplanted and autochthonous tumours curb their growth, thus extending animal survival by 37%, and advanced tumours undergo apoptosis and tumour regression or stagnation. The HSP90/HDAC6 chaperone machinery, which is significantly upregulated in cancer compared with normal tissues, is a major determinant of mutp53 stabilization. We show that long-term HSP90 inhibition significantly extends the survival of mutp53 Q/− (R248Q allele) and H/H (R172H allele) mice by 59% and 48%, respectively, but not their corresponding p53−/− littermates. This mutp53-dependent drug effect occurs in H/H mice treated with 17DMAG+SAHA and in H/H and Q/− mice treated with the potent Hsp90 inhibitor ganetespib. Notably, drug activity correlates with induction of mutp53 degradation, tumour apoptosis and prevention of T-cell lymphomagenesis. These proof-of-principle data identify mutp53 as an actionable cancer-specific drug target.

  • Cell-intrinsic adaptation of lipid composition to local crowding drives social behaviour

  • Cells sense the context in which they grow to adapt their phenotype and allow multicellular patterning by mechanisms of autocrine and paracrine signalling. However, patterns also form in cell populations exposed to the same signalling molecules and substratum, which often correlate with specific features of the population context of single cells, such as local cell crowding. Here we reveal a cell-intrinsic molecular mechanism that allows multicellular patterning without requiring specific communication between cells. It acts by sensing the local crowding of a single cell through its ability to spread and activate focal adhesion kinase (FAK, also known as PTK2), resulting in adaptation of genes controlling membrane homeostasis. In cells experiencing low crowding, FAK suppresses transcription of the ABC transporter A1 (ABCA1) by inhibiting FOXO3 and TAL1. Agent-based computational modelling and experimental confirmation identified membrane-based signalling and feedback control as crucial for the emergence of population patterns of ABCA1 expression, which adapts membrane lipid composition to cell crowding and affects multiple signalling activities, including the suppression of ABCA1 expression itself. The simple design of this cell-intrinsic system and its broad impact on the signalling state of mammalian single cells suggests a fundamental role for a tunable membrane lipid composition in collective cell behaviour.

  • Developmental biology: Diversity in the lymphatic vasculature

  • Two studies of the cells that give rise to lymphatic vessels reveal that precursors arise from unexpected sources, demonstrating that the origins of this vasculature are more diverse than anticipated.

  • Cardiac lymphatics are heterogeneous in origin and respond to injury

  • The lymphatic system is thought to be derived by transdifferentiation of venous endothelium; this study shows that the origin of cardiac lymphatics is in fact more heterogeneous, including both venous and non-venous origins and that lymphangiogenesis occurs in the adult heart following myocardial infarction and can be enhanced to improve heart function.

  • Lymphatic vessels arise from specialized angioblasts within a venous niche

  • The lymphatic endothelium is thought to arise entirely from trans-differentiation of the venous endothelium; a new mechanism of lymphatic vessel formation is identified in zebrafish, whereby the lymphatic vessels derive from specialized angioblasts within the floor of the cardinal vein.

  • MET is required for the recruitment of anti-tumoural neutrophils

  • Mutations or amplification of the MET proto-oncogene are involved in the pathogenesis of several tumours, which rely on the constitutive engagement of this pathway for their growth and survival. However, MET is expressed not only by cancer cells but also by tumour-associated stromal cells, although its precise role in this compartment is not well characterized. Here we show that MET is required for neutrophil chemoattraction and cytotoxicity in response to its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Met deletion in mouse neutrophils enhances tumour growth and metastasis. This phenotype correlates with reduced neutrophil infiltration to both the primary tumour and metastatic sites. Similarly, Met is necessary for neutrophil transudation during colitis, skin rash or peritonitis. Mechanistically, Met is induced by tumour-derived tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α or other inflammatory stimuli in both mouse and human neutrophils. This induction is instrumental for neutrophil transmigration across an activated endothelium and for inducible nitric oxide synthase production upon HGF stimulation. Consequently, HGF/MET-dependent nitric oxide release by neutrophils promotes cancer cell killing, which abates tumour growth and metastasis. After systemic administration of a MET kinase inhibitor, we prove that the therapeutic benefit of MET targeting in cancer cells is partly countered by the pro-tumoural effect arising from MET blockade in neutrophils. Our work identifies an unprecedented role of MET in neutrophils, suggests a potential ‘Achilles’ heel’ of MET-targeted therapies in cancer, and supports the rationale for evaluating anti-MET drugs in certain inflammatory diseases.

  • Sexual selection protects against extinction

  • Reproduction through sex carries substantial costs, mainly because only half of sexual adults produce offspring. It has been theorized that these costs could be countered if sex allows sexual selection to clear the universal fitness constraint of mutation load. Under sexual selection, competition between (usually) males and mate choice by (usually) females create important intraspecific filters for reproductive success, so that only a subset of males gains paternity. If reproductive success under sexual selection is dependent on individual condition, which is contingent to mutation load, then sexually selected filtering through‘genic capture’ could offset the costs of sex because it provides genetic benefits to populations. Here we test this theory experimentally by comparing whether populations with histories of strong versus weak sexual selection purge mutation load and resist extinction differently. After evolvingreplicate populations of the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum for 6 to 7 years under conditions that differed solely in the strengths of sexual selection, we revealed mutation load using inbreeding. Lineages from populations that had previously experienced strong sexual selection were resilient to extinction and maintained fitness under inbreeding, with some families continuing to survive after 20 generations of sib × sib mating. By contrast, lineages derived from populations that experienced weak or non-existent sexual selection showed rapid fitness declines under inbreeding, and all were extinct after generation 10. Multiple mutations across the genome with individually small effects can be difficult to clear, yet sum to a significant fitness load; our findings reveal that sexual selection reduces this load, improving population viability in the face of genetic stress.

  • Structures of human phosphofructokinase-1 and atomic basis of cancer-associated mutations

  • Phosphofructokinase-1 (PFK1), the‘gatekeeper’ of glycolysis, catalyses the committed step of the glycolytic pathway by converting fructose-6-phosphate to fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. Allosteric activation and inhibition of PFK1 by over ten metabolites and in response to hormonal signalling fine-tune glycolytic flux to meet energy requirements. Mutations inhibiting PFK1 activity cause glycogen storage disease type VII, also known as Tarui disease, and mice deficient in muscle PFK1 have decreased fat stores. Additionally, PFK1 is proposed to have important roles in metabolic reprogramming in cancer. Despite its critical rolein glucose flux, the biologically relevant crystal structure of the mammalian PFK1 tetramer has not been determined. Here we report the first structures of the mammalian PFK1 tetramer, for the human platelet isoform (PFKP), in complex with ATP–Mg2+ and ADP at 3.1 and 3.4 Å, respectively. The structures reveal substantial conformational changes in the enzyme upon nucleotide hydrolysis as well as a unique tetramer interface. Mutations of residues in this interface can affect tetramer formation, enzyme catalysis and regulation, indicating the functional importance of the tetramer. With altered glycolytic flux being a hallmark of cancers, these new structures allow a molecular understanding of the functional consequences of somatic PFK1 mutations identified in human cancers. We characterize three of these mutations and show they have distinct effects on allosteric regulation of PFKP activity and lactate production. The PFKP structural blueprint for somatic mutations as well as the catalytic site can guide therapeutic targeting of PFK1 activity to control dysregulated glycolysis in disease.

  • High-energy physics: Proton smasher spots rare particle decays

  • The extremely rare decays of particles known as neutral B mesons have been observed at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The result may be a glimpse of physics beyond that of the standard model of particle physics.

  • Observation of the rare Bs0→µ+µ− decay from the combined analysis of CMS and LHCb data

  • The standard model of particle physics describes the fundamental particles and their interactions via the strong, electromagnetic and weak forces. It provides precise predictions for measurable quantities that can be tested experimentally. The probabilities, or branching fractions, of the strange B meson () and the B0 meson decaying into two oppositely charged muons (μ+ and μ−) are especially interesting because of their sensitivity to theories that extend the standard model. The standard model predicts that the and decays are very rare, with about four of the former occurring for every billion mesons produced, and one of the latter occurring for every ten billion B0 mesons. A difference in the observed branching fractions with respect to the predictions of the standard model would provide a direction in which the standard model should be extended. Before the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN started operating, no evidence for either decay mode had been found. Upper limits on the branching fractions were an order of magnitude above the standard model predictions. The CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) and LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty) collaborations have performed a joint analysis of the data from proton–proton collisions that they collected in 2011 at a centre-of-mass energy of seven teraelectronvolts and in 2012 at eight teraelectronvolts. Here we report the first observation of the µ+µ− decay, with a statistical significance exceeding six standard deviations, and the best measurement so far of its branching fraction. Furthermore, we obtained evidence for the µ+µ− decay with a statistical significance of three standard deviations. Both measurements are statistically compatible with standard model predictions and allow stringent constraints to be placed on theories beyond the standard model. The LHC experiments will resume taking data in 2015, recording proton–proton collisions at a centre-of-mass energy of 13 teraelectronvolts, which will approximately double the production rates of and B0 mesons and lead to further improvements in the precision of these crucial tests of the standard model.

  • Genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics of Ebola virus in Sierra Leone

  • A novel Ebola virus (EBOV) first identified in March 2014 has infected more than 25,000 people in West Africa, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths. Preliminary analyses of genome sequences of 81 EBOV collected from March to June 2014 from Guinea and Sierra Leone suggest that the 2014 EBOV originated from an independent transmission event from its natural reservoir followed by sustained human-to-human infections. It has been reported that the EBOV genome variation might have an effect on the efficacy of sequence-based virus detection and candidate therapeutics. However, only limited viral information has been available since July 2014, when the outbreak entered a rapid growth phase. Here we describe 175 full-length EBOV genome sequences from five severely stricken districts in Sierra Leone from 28 September to 11 November 2014. We found that the 2014 EBOV has become more phylogenetically and genetically diverse from July to November 2014, characterized by the emergence of multiple novel lineages. The substitution rate for the 2014 EBOV was estimated to be 1.23× 10−3 substitutions per site per year (95% highest posterior density interval, 1.04 × 10−3 to 1.41 × 10−3 substitutions per site per year), approximating to that observed between previous EBOV outbreaks. The sharp increase in genetic diversity of the 2014 EBOV warrants extensive EBOV surveillance in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to better understand the viral evolution and transmission dynamics of the ongoing outbreak. These data will facilitate the international efforts to develop vaccines and therapeutics.

  • Cytosolic extensions directly regulate a rhomboid protease by modulating substrate gating

  • Intramembrane proteases catalyse the signal-generating step of various cell signalling pathways, and continue to be implicated in diseases ranging from malaria infection to Parkinsonian neurodegeneration. Despite playing such decisive roles, it remains unclear whether or how these membrane-immersed enzymes might be regulated directly. To address this limitation, here we focus on intramembrane proteases containing domains known to exert regulatory functions in other contexts, and characterize a rhomboid protease that harbours calcium-binding EF-hands. We find calcium potently stimulates proteolysis by endogenous rhomboid-4 in Drosophila cells, and, remarkably, when rhomboid-4 is purified and reconstituted in liposomes. Interestingly, deleting the amino-terminal EF-hands activates proteolysis prematurely, while residues in cytoplasmic loops connecting distal transmembrane segments mediate calcium stimulation. Rhomboid regulation is not orchestrated by either dimerization or substrate interactions. Instead, calcium increases catalytic rate by promoting substrate gating. Substrates with cleavage sites outside the membrane can be cleaved but lose the capacity to be regulated. These observations indicate substrate gating is not an essential step in catalysis, but instead evolved as a mechanism for regulating proteolysis inside the membrane. Moreover, these insights provide new approaches for studying rhomboid functions by investigating upstream inputs that trigger proteolysis.

  • Mechanical induction of the tumorigenicβ-catenin pathway by tumour growth pressure

  • The tumour microenvironment may contribute to tumorigenesis owing to mechanical forces such as fibrotic stiffness or mechanical pressure caused by the expansion of hyper-proliferative cells. Here we explore the contribution of the mechanical pressure exerted by tumour growth onto non-tumorous adjacent epithelium. In the early stage of mouse colon tumour development in the Notch+Apc+/1638N mouse model, we observed mechanistic pressure stress in the non-tumorous epithelial cells caused by hyper-proliferative adjacent crypts overexpressing active Notch, which is associated with increased Ret andβ-catenin signalling. We thus developed a method that allows the delivery of a defined mechanical pressure in vivo, by subcutaneously inserting a magnet close to the mouse colon. The implanted magnet generated a magnetic force on ultra-magnetic liposomes, stabilized in the mesenchymal cells of theconnective tissue surrounding colonic crypts after intravenous injection. The magnetically induced pressure quantitatively mimicked the endogenous early tumour growth stress in the order of 1,200 Pa, without affecting tissue stiffness, as monitored by ultrasound strain imaging and shear wave elastography. The exertion of pressure mimicking that of tumour growth led to rapid Ret activation and downstream phosphorylation of β-catenin on Tyr654, imparing its interaction with the E-cadherin in adherens junctions, and which was followed by β-catenin nuclear translocation after 15 days. As a consequence, increased expression of β-catenin-target genes was observed at 1 month, together with crypt enlargement accompanying the formation of early tumorous aberrant crypt foci. Mechanical activation of the tumorigenic β-catenin pathway suggests unexplored modes of tumour propagation based on mechanical signalling pathways in healthy epithelial cells surrounding the tumour, which may contribute to tumour heterogeneity.

  • MYC regulates the core pre-mRNA splicing machinery as an essential step in lymphomagenesis

  • Deregulated expression of the MYC transcription factor occurs in most human cancers and correlates with high proliferation, reprogrammed cellular metabolism and poor prognosis. Overexpressed MYC binds to virtually all active promoters within a cell, although with different binding affinities, and modulates the expression of distinct subsets of genes. However, the critical effectors of MYC in tumorigenesis remain largely unknown. Here we show that during lymphomagenesis in Eµ-myc transgenic mice, MYC directly upregulates the transcription of the core small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle assembly genes, including Prmt5, an arginine methyltransferase that methylates Sm proteins. This coordinated regulatory effect is critical for the core biogenesis of small nuclearribonucleoprotein particles, effective pre-messenger-RNA splicing, cell survival and proliferation. Our results demonstrate that MYC maintains the splicing fidelity of exons with a weak 5′ donor site. Additionally, we identify pre-messenger-RNAs that are particularly sensitive to the perturbationof the MYC–PRMT5 axis, resulting in either intron retention (for example, Dvl1) or exon skipping (for example, Atr, Ep400). Using antisense oligonucleotides, we demonstrate the contribution of these splicing defects to the anti-proliferative/apoptotic phenotype observed in PRMT5-depleted Eµ-myc B cells. We conclude that, in addition to its well-documented oncogenic functions in transcription and translation, MYC also safeguards proper pre-messenger-RNA splicing as an essential step in lymphomagenesis.

  • PPAR-α and glucocorticoid receptor synergize to promote erythroid progenitor self-renewal

  • Many acute and chronic anaemias, including haemolysis, sepsis and genetic bone marrow failure diseases such as Diamond–Blackfan anaemia, are not treatable with erythropoietin (Epo), because the colony-forming unit erythroid progenitors (CFU-Es) that respond to Epo are either too few in number or are not sensitive enough to Epo to maintain sufficient red blood cell production. Treatment of these anaemias requiresa drug that acts at an earlier stage of red cell formation and enhances the formation of Epo-sensitive CFU-E progenitors. Recently, we showed that glucocorticoids specifically stimulate self-renewal of an early erythroid progenitor, burst-forming unit erythroid (BFU-E), and increase the production of terminally differentiated erythroid cells. Here we show that activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPAR-α) by the PPAR-α agonists GW7647 and fenofibrate synergizes with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) to promote BFU-E self-renewal. Over time these agonists greatly increase production of mature red blood cells in cultures of both mouse fetal liver BFU-Es and mobilized human adult CD34+ peripheral blood progenitors, with a new and effective culture system being used for the human cells that generates normal enucleated reticulocytes. Although Ppara−/− mice show no haematological difference from wild-type mice in both normal and phenylhydrazine (PHZ)-induced stress erythropoiesis, PPAR-α agonists facilitate recovery of wild-type but not Ppara−/− mice from PHZ-induced acute haemolytic anaemia. We also show that PPAR-α alleviates anaemia in a mouse model of chronic anaemia. Finally, both in control and corticosteroid-treated BFU-E cells, PPAR-α co-occupies many chromatin sites with GR; when activated by PPAR-α agonists, additional PPAR-α is recruited to GR-adjacent sites and presumably facilitates GR-dependent BFU-E self-renewal. Our discovery of the role of PPAR-α agonists in stimulating self-renewal of early erythroid progenitor cells suggests that the clinically tested PPAR-α agonists we used may improve the efficacy of corticosteroids in treating Epo-resistant anaemias.

  • Melanoma-intrinsicβ-catenin signalling prevents anti-tumour immunity

  • Melanoma treatment is being revolutionized by the development of effective immunotherapeutic approaches. These strategies include blockade of immune-inhibitory receptors on activated T cells; for example, using monoclonal antibodies against CTLA-4, PD-1, and PD-L1 (refs 3, 4, 5). However, only a subset of patients responds to these treatments, and data suggest that therapeutic benefit is preferentially achieved in patients with a pre-existing T-cell response against their tumour, as evidenced by a baseline CD8+ T-cell infiltration within the tumour microenvironment. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the presence or absence of a spontaneous anti-tumour T-cell response in subsets of cases, therefore, should enable the development of therapeutic solutions for patients lacking a T-cell infiltrate. Here we identify a melanoma-cell-intrinsic oncogenic pathway that contributes to a lack of T-cell infiltration in melanoma. Molecular analysis of human metastatic melanoma samples revealed a correlation between activation of the WNT/β-catenin signalling pathway and absence of a T-cell gene expression signature. Using autochthonous mouse melanoma models we identified the mechanism by which tumour-intrinsic active β-catenin signalling results in T-cell exclusion and resistance to anti-PD-L1/anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody therapy. Specific oncogenic signals, therefore, can mediate cancer immune evasion and resistance to immunotherapies, pointing to new candidate targets for immune potentiation.

  • Cyclic di-GMP acts as a cell cycle oscillator to drive chromosome replication

  • Fundamental to all living organisms is the capacity to coordinate cell division and cell differentiation to generate appropriate numbers of specialized cells. Whereas eukaryotes use cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases to balance division with cell fate decisions, equivalent regulatory systems have not been described in bacteria. Moreover, the mechanisms used by bacteria to tune division in line with developmental programs are poorly understood. Here we show that Caulobacter crescentus, a bacterium with an asymmetric division cycle, uses oscillating levels of the second messenger cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) to drive its cell cycle. We demonstrate that c-di-GMP directly binds to the essential cell cycle kinase CckA to inhibit kinase activity and stimulate phosphatase activity. An upshift of c-di-GMP during the G1–S transition switches CckA from the kinase to the phosphatase mode, thereby allowing replication initiation and cell cycle progression. Finally, we show that during division, c-di-GMP imposes spatial control on CckA to install the replication asymmetry of future daughter cells. These studies reveal c-di-GMP to be a cyclin-like molecule in bacteria that coordinates chromosome replication with cell morphogenesis in Caulobacter. The observation that c-di-GMP-mediated control is conserved in the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens suggests a general mechanism through which this global regulator of bacterial virulence and persistence coordinates behaviour and cell proliferation.

  • Histone H3.3 is required for endogenous retroviral element silencing in embryonic stem cells

  • Transposable elements comprise roughly 40% of mammalian genomes. They have an active role in genetic variation, adaptation and evolution through the duplication or deletion of genes or their regulatory elements, and transposable elements themselves can act as alternative promoters for nearby genes, resulting in non-canonical regulation of transcription. However, transposable element activity can lead to detrimental genome instability, and hosts have evolved mechanisms to silence transposable element mobility appropriately. Recent studies have demonstrated that a subset of transposable elements, endogenous retroviral elements (ERVs) containing long terminal repeats (LTRs), are silenced through trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9me3) by ESET (also known as SETDB1 or KMT1E) and a co-repressor complex containing KRAB-associated protein 1 (KAP1; also known as TRIM28) in mouse embryonic stem cells. Here we show that the replacement histone variant H3.3 is enriched at class I and class II ERVs, notably those of the early transposon (ETn)/MusD family and intracisternal A-type particles (IAPs). Deposition at a subset of these elements is dependent upon the H3.3 chaperone complex containingα-thalassaemia/mental retardation syndrome X-linked (ATRX) and death-domain-associated protein (DAXX). We demonstrate that recruitment of DAXX, H3.3 and KAP1 to ERVs is co-dependent and occurs upstream of ESET, linking H3.3 to ERV-associated H3K9me3. Importantly, H3K9me3 is reduced at ERVs upon H3.3 deletion, resulting in derepression and dysregulation of adjacent, endogenous genes, along with increased retrotransposition of IAPs. Our study identifies a unique heterochromatin state marked by the presence of both H3.3 and H3K9me3, and establishes an important role for H3.3 in control of ERV retrotransposition in embryonic stem cells.

  • Synthesis and applications of RNAs with position-selective labelling and mosaic composition

  • Knowledge of the structure and dynamics of RNA molecules is critical to understanding their many biological functions. Furthermore, synthetic RNAs have applications as therapeutics and molecular sensors. Both research and technological applications of RNA would be dramatically enhanced by methods that enable incorporation of modified or labelled nucleotides into specifically designated positions or regions of RNA. However, the synthesis of tens of milligrams of such RNAs using existing methods has been impossible. Here we develop a hybrid solid–liquid phase transcription method and automated robotic platform for the synthesis of RNAs with position-selective labelling. We demonstrate its use by successfully preparing various isotope- or fluorescently labelled versions of the 71-nucleotide aptamer domain of an adenine riboswitch for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy or single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer, respectively. Those RNAs include molecules that were selectively isotope-labelled in specific loops, linkers, a helix, several discrete positions, or a single internal position, as well as RNA molecules that were fluorescently labelled in and near kissing loops. These selectively labelled RNAs have the same fold as those transcribed using conventional methods, but they greatly simplify the interpretation of NMR spectra. The single-position isotope- and fluorescently labelled RNA samples reveal multiple conformational states of the adenine riboswitch. Lastly, we describe a robotic platform and the operation that automates this technology. Our selective labelling method may be useful for studying RNA structure and dynamics and for making RNA sensors for a variety of applications including cell-biological studies, substance detection, and disease diagnostics.

  • Epicardial regeneration is guided by cardiac outflow tract and Hedgehog signalling

  • In response to cardiac damage, a mesothelial tissue layer enveloping the heart called the epicardium is activated to proliferate and accumulate at the injury site. Recent studies have implicated the epicardium in multiple aspects of cardiac repair: as a source of paracrine signals for cardiomyocyte survival or proliferation; a supply of perivascular cells and possibly other cell types such as cardiomyocytes; and as a mediator of inflammation. However, the biology and dynamism of the adult epicardium is poorly understood. To investigate this, we created a transgenic line to ablate the epicardial cell population in adult zebrafish. Here we find that genetic depletion of the epicardium after myocardial loss inhibits cardiomyocyte proliferation and delays muscle regeneration. The epicardium vigorously regenerates after its ablation, through proliferation and migration of spared epicardial cells as a sheet to cover the exposed ventricular surface in a wave from the chamber base towards its apex. By reconstituting epicardial regeneration ex vivo, we show that extirpation of the bulbous arteriosus—a distinct, smooth-muscle-rich tissue structure that distributes outflow from the ventricle—prevents epicardial regeneration. Conversely, experimental repositioning of the bulbous arteriosus by tissue recombination initiates epicardial regeneration and can govern its direction. Hedgehog (Hh) ligand is expressed in the bulbous arteriosus, and treatment with a Hh signalling antagonist arrests epicardial regeneration and blunts the epicardial response to muscle injury. Transplantation of Sonic hedgehog (Shh)-soaked beads at the ventricular base stimulates epicardial regeneration after bulbous arteriosus removal, indicating that Hh signalling can substitute for the influence of the outflow tract. Thus, the ventricular epicardium has pronounced regenerative capacity, regulated by the neighbouring cardiac outflow tract and Hh signalling. These findings extend our understanding of tissue interactions during regeneration and have implications for mobilizing epicardial cells for therapeutic heart repair.

  • Th17 cells transdifferentiate into regulatory T cells during resolution of inflammation

  • Analysis of a mouse model shows that during the course of an immune response, helper T cells undergo functional reprogramming to transdifferentiate into regulatory T cells; this T cell plasticity could possibly be exploited to develop better therapies for restoring immune tolerance in autoimmune diseases.

  • Structures of actin-like ParM filaments show architecture of plasmid-segregating spindles

  • Active segregation of Escherichia coli low-copy-number plasmid R1 involves formation of a bipolar spindle made of left-handed double-helical actin-like ParM filaments. ParR links the filaments with centromeric parC plasmid DNA, while facilitating the addition of subunits to ParM filaments. Growing ParMRC spindles push sister plasmids to the cell poles. Here, using modern electron cryomicroscopy methods, we investigate the structures and arrangements of ParM filaments in vitro and in cells, revealing at near-atomic resolution how subunits and filaments come together to produce the simplest known mitotic machinery. To understand the mechanism of dynamic instability, we determine structures of ParM filaments in different nucleotide states. The structure of filaments bound to the ATP analogue AMPPNP is determined at 4.3Å resolution and refined. The ParM filament structure shows strong longitudinal interfaces and weaker lateral interactions. Also using electron cryomicroscopy, we reconstruct ParM doublets forming antiparallel spindles. Finally, with whole-cell electron cryotomography, we show that doublets are abundant in bacterial cells containing low-copy-number plasmids with the ParMRC locus, leading to an asynchronous model of R1 plasmid segregation.

  • An enigmatic plant-eating theropod from the Late Jurassic period of Chile

  • Theropod dinosaurs were the dominant predators in most Mesozoic era terrestrial ecosystems. Early theropod evolution is currently interpreted as the diversification of various carnivorous and cursorial taxa, whereas the acquisition of herbivorism, together with the secondary loss of cursorial adaptations, occurred much later among advanced coelurosaurian theropods. A new, bizarre herbivorous basal tetanuran from the Upper Jurassic of Chile challenges this conception. The new dinosaur was discovered at Aysén, a fossil locality in the Upper Jurassic Toqui Formation of southern Chile (General Carrera Lake). The site yielded abundant and exquisitely preserved three-dimensional skeletons of small archosaurs. Several articulated individuals of Chilesaurus at different ontogenetic stages have been collected, as well as less abundant basal crocodyliforms, and fragmentary remains of sauropod dinosaurs (diplodocids and titanosaurians).

  • Alternative 3′ UTRs act as scaffolds to regulate membrane protein localization

  • About half of human genes use alternative cleavage and polyadenylation (ApA) to generate messenger RNA transcripts that differ in the length of their 3′ untranslated regions (3′ UTRs) while producing the same protein. Here we show in human cell lines that alternative 3′ UTRs differentially regulate the localization of membrane proteins. The long 3′ UTR of CD47 enables efficient cell surface expression of CD47 protein, whereas the short3′ UTR primarily localizes CD47 protein to the endoplasmic reticulum. CD47 protein localization occurs post-translationally and independently of RNA localization. In our model of 3′ UTR-dependent protein localization, the long 3′ UTR of CD47 acts as a scaffold to recruit a protein complex containing the RNA-binding protein HuR (also known as ELAVL1) and SET to the site of translation. This facilitates interaction of SET with the newly translated cytoplasmic domains of CD47 and results in subsequent translocation of CD47 to the plasma membrane via activated RAC1 (ref. 5). We also showthat CD47 protein has different functions depending on whether it was generated by the short or long 3′ UTR isoforms. Thus, ApA contributes to the functional diversity of the proteome without changing the amino acid sequence. 3′ UTR-dependent protein localization has the potential to be a widespread trafficking mechanism for membrane proteins because HuR binds to thousands of mRNAs, and we show that the long 3′ UTRs of CD44, ITGA1 and TNFRSF13C, which are bound by HuR, increase surface protein expression compared to their corresponding short 3′ UTRs. We propose that during translation the scaffold function of 3′ UTRs facilitates binding of proteins to nascent proteins to direct their transport or function—and this role of 3′ UTRs can be regulated by ApA.

  • Intrinsic retroviral reactivation in human preimplantation embryos and pluripotent cells

  • Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections, and comprise nearly 8% of the human genome. The most recently acquired human ERV is HERVK(HML-2), which repeatedly infected the primate lineage both before and after the divergence of the human and chimpanzee common ancestor. Unlike most other human ERVs, HERVK retained multiple copies of intact open reading frames encoding retroviral proteins. However, HERVK is transcriptionally silenced by the host, with the exception of in certain pathological contexts such as germ-cell tumours, melanoma or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Here we demonstrate that DNA hypomethylation at long terminal repeat elements representing the most recent genomic integrations, together with transactivation by OCT4 (also known as POU5F1), synergistically facilitate HERVK expression. Consequently, HERVK is transcribed during normal human embryogenesis, beginning with embryonic genome activation at the eight-cell stage, continuing through the emergence of epiblast cells in preimplantation blastocysts, and ceasing during human embryonic stem cell derivation from blastocyst outgrowths. Remarkably, we detected HERVK viral-like particles and Gag proteins in human blastocysts, indicating that early human development proceeds in the presence of retroviral products. We further show that overexpression of one such product, the HERVK accessory protein Rec, in a pluripotent cell line is sufficient to increase IFITM1 levels on the cell surface and inhibit viral infection, suggesting at least one mechanism through which HERVK can induce viral restriction pathways in early embryonic cells. Moreover, Rec directly binds a subset of cellular RNAs and modulates their ribosome occupancy, indicating that complex interactions between retroviral proteins and host factors can fine-tune pathways of early human development.

  • Drug-based modulation of endogenous stem cells promotes functional remyelination in vivo

  • Multiple sclerosis involves an aberrant autoimmune response and progressive failure of remyelination in the central nervous system. Prevention of neural degeneration and subsequent disability requires remyelination through the generation of new oligodendrocytes, but current treatments exclusively target the immune system. Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells are stem cells in the central nervous system and the principal source of myelinating oligodendrocytes. These cells are abundant in demyelinated regions of patients with multiple sclerosis, yet fail to differentiate, thereby representing a cellular target for pharmacological intervention. To discover therapeutic compounds for enhancing myelination from endogenous oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, we screened a library of bioactive small molecules on mouse pluripotent epiblast stem-cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. Here we show seven drugs function at nanomolar doses selectively to enhance the generation of mature oligodendrocytes from progenitor cells in vitro. Two drugs, miconazole and clobetasol, are effective in promoting precocious myelination in organotypic cerebellar slice cultures, and in vivo in early postnatal mouse pups. Systemic delivery of each of the two drugs significantly increases the number of new oligodendrocytes and enhances remyelination in a lysolecithin-induced mouse model of focal demyelination. Administering each of the two drugs at the peak of disease in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis results in striking reversal of disease severity. Immune response assays show that miconazole functions directly as a remyelinating drug with no effect on the immune system, whereas clobetasol is a potent immunosuppressant as well as a remyelinating agent. Mechanistic studies show that miconazole and clobetasol function in oligodendrocyte progenitor cells through mitogen-activated protein kinase and glucocorticoid receptor signalling, respectively. Furthermore, both drugs enhance the generation of human oligodendrocytes from human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in vitro. Collectively, our results provide a rationale for testing miconazole and clobetasol, or structurally modified derivatives, to enhance remyelination in patients.

  • The Drosophila TNF receptor Grindelwald couples loss of cell polarity and neoplastic growth

  • Disruption of epithelial polarity is a key event in the acquisition of neoplastic growth. JNK signalling is known to play an important part in driving the malignant progression of many epithelial tumours, although the link between loss of polarity and JNK signalling remains elusive. In a Drosophila genome-wide genetic screen designed to identify molecules implicated in neoplastic growth, we identified grindelwald (grnd), a gene encoding a transmembrane protein with homology to members of the tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) superfamily. Here we show that Grnd mediates the pro-apoptotic functions of Eiger (Egr), the unique Drosophila TNF, and that overexpression of an active form of Grnd lacking the extracellular domain is sufficient to activate JNK signalling in vivo. Grnd also promotes the invasiveness of RasV12/scrib−/− tumours through Egr-dependent Matrix metalloprotease-1 (Mmp1) expression. Grnd localizes to the subapical membrane domain with the cell polarity determinant Crumbs (Crb) and couples Crb-induced loss of polarity with JNK activation and neoplastic growth through physical interaction with Veli(also known as Lin-7). Therefore, Grnd represents the first example of a TNFR that integrates signals from both Egr and apical polarity determinants to induce JNK-dependent cell death or tumour growth.

  • Viraemia suppressed in HIV-1-infected humans by broadly neutralizing antibody 3BNC117

  • HIV-1 immunotherapy with a combination of first generation monoclonal antibodies was largely ineffective in pre-clinical and clinical settings and was therefore abandoned. However, recently developed single-cell-based antibody cloning methods have uncovered a new generation of far more potent broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 (refs 4, 5). These antibodies can prevent infection and suppress viraemia in humanized mice and nonhuman primates, but their potential for human HIV-1 immunotherapy has not been evaluated. Here we report the results of a first-in-man dose escalation phase 1 clinical trial of 3BNC117, a potent human CD4 binding site antibody, in uninfected and HIV-1-infected individuals. 3BNC117 infusion was well tolerated and demonstrated favourable pharmacokinetics. A single 30 mg kg−1 infusion of 3BNC117 reduced the viral load in HIV-1-infected individuals by 0.8–2.5 log10 and viraemia remained significantly reduced for 28 days. Emergence of resistant viral strains was variable, with some individuals remaining sensitive to 3BNC117 for a period of 28 days. We conclude that, as a single agent, 3BNC117 is safe and effective in reducing HIV-1 viraemia, and that immunotherapy should be explored as a new modality for HIV-1 prevention, therapy and cure.

  • eIF3 targets cell-proliferation messenger RNAs for translational activation or repression

  • Regulation of protein synthesis is fundamental for all aspects of eukaryotic biology by controlling development, homeostasis and stress responses. The 13-subunit, 800-kilodalton eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) organizes initiation factor and ribosome interactions required for productive translation. However, current understanding of eIF3 function does not explain genetic evidence correlating eIF3 deregulation with tissue-specific cancers and developmental defects. Here we report the genome-wide discovery of human transcripts that interact with eIF3 using photoactivatable ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP). eIF3 binds to a highly specific program of messenger RNAs involved in cell growth control processes, including cell cycling, differentiation and apoptosis, via the mRNA 5′ untranslated region. Surprisingly, functional analysis of the interaction between eIF3 and two mRNAs encoding the cell proliferation regulators c-JUN and BTG1 reveals that eIF3 uses different modes of RNA stem–loop binding to exert either translational activation or repression. Our findings illuminate a new role for eIF3 in governing a specialized repertoire of gene expression and suggest that binding of eIF3 to specific mRNAs could be targeted to control carcinogenesis.

  • Niche-induced cell death and epithelial phagocytosis regulate hair follicle stem cell pool

  • Tissue homeostasis is achieved through a balance of cell production (growth) and elimination (regression). In contrast to tissue growth, the cells and molecular signals required for tissue regression remain unknown. To investigate physiological tissue regression, we use the mouse hair follicle, which cycles stereotypically between phases of growth and regression while maintaining a pool of stem cells to perpetuate tissue regeneration. Here we show by intravital microscopy in live mice that the regression phase eliminates the majority of the epithelial cells by two distinct mechanisms: terminal differentiation of suprabasal cells and a spatial gradient of apoptosis of basal cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that basal epithelial cells collectively act as phagocytes to clear dying epithelial neighbours. Through cellular and genetic ablation we show that epithelial cell death is extrinsically induced through transforming growth factor (TGF)-β activation and mesenchymal crosstalk. Strikingly, our data show that regression acts to reduce the stem cell pool, as inhibition of regression results in excess basal epithelial cells with regenerative abilities. This study identifies the cellular behaviours and molecular mechanisms of regression that counterbalance growth to maintain tissue homeostasis.

  • Reducing the energy cost of human walking using an unpowered exoskeleton

  • The attachment of a simple, unpowered, mechanical exoskeleton to the foot and ankle results in a net saving of 7% of the metabolic energy expended in human walking.

  • New cosmogenic burial ages for Sterkfontein Member 2 Australopithecus and Member 5 Oldowan

  • The cave infills at Sterkfontein contain one of the richest assemblages of Australopithecus fossils in the world, including the nearly complete skeleton StW 573 (‘Little Foot’) in its lower section, as well as early stone tools in higher sections. However, the chronology of the site remains controversial owing to the complex history of cave infilling. Much of the existing chronology based on uranium–lead dating and palaeomagnetic stratigraphy has recently been called into question by the recognition that dated flowstones fill cavities formed within previously cemented breccias and therefore do not form a stratigraphic sequence. Earlier dating with cosmogenic nuclides suffered a high degree of uncertainty and has been questioned on grounds of sediment reworking. Here we use isochron burial dating with cosmogenic aluminium-26 and beryllium-10 to show that the breccia containing StW 573 did not undergo significant reworking, and that it was deposited 3.67 ± 0.16 million years ago, far earlier than the 2.2 million year flowstones found within it. The skeleton is thus coeval with early Australopithecus afarensis in eastern Africa. We also date the earliest stone tools at Sterkfontein to 2.18 ± 0.21 million years ago, placing them in the Oldowan at a time similar to that found elsewhere in South Africa at Swartkans and Wonderwerk.

  • IL-17-producingγδ T cells and neutrophils conspire to promote breast cancer metastasis

  • Metastatic disease remains the primary cause of death for patients with breast cancer. The different steps of the metastatic cascade rely on reciprocal interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment. Within this local microenvironment and in distant organs, immune cells and their mediators are known to facilitate metastasis formation. However, the precise contribution of tumour-induced systemic inflammation to metastasis and the mechanisms regulating systemic inflammation are poorly understood. Here we show that tumours maximize their chance of metastasizing by evoking a systemic inflammatory cascade in mouse models of spontaneous breast cancer metastasis. We mechanistically demonstrate that interleukin (IL)-1β elicits IL-17 expression from gamma delta (γδ) T cells, resulting in systemic, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-dependent expansion and polarization of neutrophils in mice bearing mammary tumours. Tumour-induced neutrophils acquire the ability to suppress cytotoxic T lymphocytes carrying the CD8 antigen, which limit the establishment of metastases. Neutralization of IL-17 or G-CSF and absence of γδ T cells prevents neutrophil accumulation and downregulates the T-cell-suppressive phenotype of neutrophils. Moreover, the absence of γδ T cells or neutrophils profoundly reduces pulmonary and lymph node metastases without influencing primary tumour progression. Our data indicate that targeting this novel cancer-cell-initiated domino effect within the immune system—the γδ T cell/IL-17/neutrophil axis—represents a new strategy to inhibit metastatic disease.

  • Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin’s South American ungulates

  • No large group of recently extinct placental mammals remains as evolutionarily cryptic as the approximately 280 genera grouped as‘South American native ungulates’. To Charles Darwin, who first collected their remains, they included perhaps the ‘strangest animal[s] ever discovered’. Today, much like 180 years ago, it is no clearer whether they had one origin or several, arose before or after the Cretaceous/Palaeogene transition 66.2 million years ago, or are more likely to belong with the elephants and sirenians of superorder Afrotheria than with the euungulates (cattle, horses, and allies) of superorder Laurasiatheria. Morphology-based analyses have proved unconvincing because convergences are pervasive among unrelated ungulate-like placentals. Approaches using ancient DNA have also been unsuccessful, probably because of rapid DNA degradation in semitropical and temperate deposits. Here we apply proteomic analysis to screen bone samples of the Late Quaternary South American native ungulate taxa Toxodon (Notoungulata) and Macrauchenia (Litopterna) for phylogenetically informative protein sequences. For each ungulate, we obtain approximately 90% direct sequence coverage of type I collagen α1- and α2-chains, representing approximately 900 of 1,140 amino-acid residues for each subunit. A phylogeny isestimated from an alignment of these fossil sequences with collagen (I) gene transcripts from available mammalian genomes or mass spectrometrically derived sequence data obtained for this study. The resulting consensus tree agrees well with recent higher-level mammalian phylogenies. Toxodon and Macrauchenia form a monophyletic group whose sister taxon is not Afrotheria or any of its constituent clades as recently claimed, but instead crown Perissodactyla (horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses). These results are consistent with the origin of at least some South American native ungulates from ‘condylarths’, a paraphyletic assembly of archaic placentals. With ongoing improvements in instrumentation and analytical procedures, proteomics may produce a revolution in systematics such as that achieved by genomics, but with the possibility of reaching much further back in time.

  • Disruption of DNA-methylation-dependent long gene repression in Rett syndrome

  • Disruption of the MECP2 gene leads to Rett syndrome (RTT), a severe neurological disorder with features of autism. MECP2 encodes a methyl-DNA-binding protein that has been proposed to function as a transcriptional repressor, but despite numerous mouse studies examining neuronal gene expression in Mecp2 mutants, no clear model has emerged for how MeCP2 protein regulates transcription. Here we identify a genome-wide length-dependent increase in gene expression in MeCP2 mutant mouse models and human RTT brains. We present evidence that MeCP2 represses gene expression by binding to methylated CA sites within long genes, and that in neurons lacking MeCP2, decreasing the expression of long genes attenuates RTT-associated cellular deficits. In addition, we find that long genes as a population are enriched for neuronal functions and selectively expressed in the brain. These findings suggest that mutations in MeCP2 may cause neurological dysfunction by specifically disrupting long gene expression in the brain.

  • Dissemination, divergence and establishment of H7N9 influenza viruses in China

  • Since 2013 the occurrence of human infections by a novel avian H7N9 influenza virus in China has demonstrated the continuing threat posed by zoonotic pathogens. Although the first outbreak wave that was centred on eastern China was seemingly averted, human infections recurred in October 2013 (refs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). It is unclear how the H7N9 virus re-emerged and how it will develop further; potentially it may become a long-term threat to public health. Here we show that H7N9 viruses have spread from eastern to southern China and become persistent in chickens, which has led to the establishment of multiple regionally distinct lineages with different reassortant genotypes. Repeated introductions of viruses from Zhejiang to other provinces and the presence of H7N9 viruses at live poultry markets have fuelled the recurrence of human infections. This rapid expansion of the geographical distribution and genetic diversity of the H7N9 viruses poses a direct challenge to current disease control systems. Our results also suggest that H7N9 viruses have become enzootic in China and may spread beyond the region, following the pattern previously observed with H5N1 and H9N2 influenza viruses.

  • Anomalocaridid trunk limb homology revealed by a giant filter-feeder with paired flaps

  • Exceptionally preserved fossils from the Palaeozoic era provide crucial insights into arthropod evolution, with recent discoveries bringing phylogeny and character homology into sharp focus. Integral to such studies are anomalocaridids, a clade of stem arthropods whose remarkable morphology illuminates early arthropod relationships and Cambrian ecology. Although recent work has focused on the anomalocaridid head, the nature of their trunk has been debated widely. Here we describe new anomalocaridid specimens from the Early Ordovician Fezouata Biota of Morocco, which not only show well-preserved head appendages providing key ecological data, but also elucidate the nature of anomalocaridid trunk flaps, resolving their homology with arthropod trunk limbs. The new material shows that each trunk segment bears a separate dorsal and ventral pair of flaps, with a series of setal blades attached at the base of the dorsal flaps. Comparisons with other stem lineage arthropods indicate that anomalocaridid ventral flaps are homologous with lobopodous walking limbs and the endopod of the euarthropod biramous limb, whereas the dorsal flaps and associated setal blades are homologous with the flaps of gilled lobopodians (for example, Kerygmachela kierkegaardi, Pambdelurion whittingtoni) and exites of the‘Cambrian biramous limb’. This evidence shows that anomalocaridids represent a stage before the fusion of exite and endopod into the ‘Cambrian biramous limb’, confirming their basal placement in the euarthropod stem, rather than in the arthropod crown or with cycloneuralian worms. Unlike other anomalocaridids, the Fezouata taxon combines head appendages convergently adapted for filter-feeding with an unprecedented body length exceeding 2 m, indicating a new direction in the feeding ecology of the clade. The evolution of giant filter-feeding anomalocaridids may reflect the establishment of highly developed planktic ecosystems during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.

  • Massive migration from the steppe was a source for Indo-European languages in Europe

  • We generated genome-wide data from 69 Europeans who lived between 8,000–3,000 years ago by enriching ancient DNA libraries for a target set of almost 400,000 polymorphisms. Enrichment of these positions decreases the sequencing required for genome-wide ancient DNA analysis by a median of around 250-fold, allowing us to study an order of magnitude more individuals than previous studies and to obtain new insights about the past. We show that the populations of Western and Far Eastern Europe followed opposite trajectories between 8,000–5,000 years ago. At the beginning of the Neolithic period in Europe, ∼8,000–7,000 years ago, closely related groups of early farmers appeared in Germany, Hungary and Spain, different from indigenous hunter-gatherers, whereas Russia was inhabited by a distinctive population of hunter-gatherers with high affinity to a ∼24,000-year-old Siberian. By ∼6,000–5,000 years ago, farmers throughout much of Europe had more hunter-gatherer ancestry than their predecessors, but in Russia, the Yamnaya steppe herders of this time were descended not only from the preceding eastern European hunter-gatherers, but also from a population of Near Eastern ancestry. Western and Eastern Europe came into contact ∼4,500 years ago, as the Late Neolithic Corded Ware people from Germany traced ∼75% of their ancestry to the Yamnaya, documenting a massive migration into the heartland of Europe from its eastern periphery. This steppe ancestry persisted in all sampled central Europeans until at least ∼3,000 years ago, and is ubiquitous in present-day Europeans. These results provide support for a steppe origin of at least some of the Indo-European languages of Europe.

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

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

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

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

  • Diabetes: The good in fat

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

  • Behavioural economics: Professional identity can increase dishonesty

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

  • Microbiology: A backup for bacteria

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

  • Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry

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

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

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

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

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

  • Neurobiology: A molecular knife to dice depression

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

  • Cell metabolism: Autophagy transcribed

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

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

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

  • Nutrient-sensing nuclear receptors coordinate autophagy

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

  • Transcriptional regulation of autophagy by an FXR–CREB axis

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

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

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

  • Animal behaviour: Incipient tradition in wild chimpanzees

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

  • Structural biology: Lariat lessons

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

  • Crystal structure of a eukaryotic group II intron lariat

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

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

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

  • Health: The weighty costs of non-caloric sweeteners

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

  • Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

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

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

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

  • Large, non-saturating magnetoresistance in WTe2

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

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

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

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

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

  • Inflammatory caspases are innate immune receptors for intracellular LPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Inappropriate p53 activation during development induces features of CHARGE syndrome

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

  • Evolution: Tooth structure re-engineered

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

  • Replaying evolutionary transitions from the dental fossil record

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

  • Cancer: Directions for the drivers

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

  • Putative cis-regulatory drivers in colorectal cancer

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

  • HIV: Early treatment may not be early enough

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

  • Convergence of terrestrial plant production across global climate gradients

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • PVT1 dependence in cancer with MYC copy-number increase

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

  • Quantum computing: Powered by magic

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

  • Cancer: Natural-born killers unleashed

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

  • Contextuality supplies the‘magic’ for quantum computation

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

  • The genome of Eucalyptus grandis

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

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

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

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

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

  • Population health: Immaturity in the gut microbial community

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

  • Cell biology: Balancing act

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

  • The mitochondrial deubiquitinase USP30 opposes parkin-mediated mitophagy

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

  • Persistent gut microbiota immaturity in malnourished Bangladeshi children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ribosomal oxygenases are structurally conserved from prokaryotes to humans

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

  • CFIm25 links alternative polyadenylation to glioblastoma tumour suppression

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

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

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

  • PTEN action in leukaemia dictated by the tissue microenvironment

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