Volume 492 Number 7427



An unhealthy obsession p.7

The energy expended by US biomedical scientists on complaining about grant-application limits would be better directed at the real problem: stagnant funding.

doi: 10.1038/492007a


Suspend disbelief p.7

Wrangling over scientific misconduct could influence Romania’s general election.

doi: 10.1038/492007b


Haste not speed p.8

US science would benefit if Congress improved the predictability and stability of funding.

doi: 10.1038/492008a



Flood of protest hits Indian dams p.15

Himalayan plans pose ecological threat, researchers warn.

doi: 10.1038/492015a


Nanoparticle blast caught on film p.16

Combustion could help to make minuscule matter.

doi: 10.1038/492016a


Quiet Texan to head science committee p.17

Innovation promoter wins key role in US Congress.

doi: 10.1038/492017a


US advisers seek research overhaul p.18

Report calls for stable funding and industry collaborations.

doi: 10.1038/492018a


FDA under pressure to relax drug rules p.19

Industry says antibiotic pipeline is being blocked by overly stringent clinical-trial requirements for new treatments.

doi: 10.1038/492019a


Megacities move to track emissions p.20

Scientists monitor greenhouse gases in urban areas as a first step to gauging success of climate initiatives worldwide.

doi: 10.1038/492020a

News Features


The quantum space race p.22


doi: 10.1038/492022a


Radical reactors p.26


doi: 10.1038/492026a

News & Views


Olfaction: Intimate neuronal whispers p.44


doi: 10.1038/nature11757


Organic chemistry: Toolkit of reagents to aid drug discovery p.45


doi: 10.1038/nature11760


Evolutionary genomics: Algae's complex origins p.46


doi: 10.1038/nature11759


Extrasolar planets: Astrophysical false positives p.48


doi: 10.1038/492048a


Biochemistry: Another aspect of nature's ingenuity p.50


doi: 10.1038/nature11754


Applied physics: An optical trampoline p.51


doi: 10.1038/492051a


Astronomy: A truly embryonic star p.52


doi: 10.1038/492052a

2012年度ノーベル賞特集 経済学賞:安定な割り当てとマーケットデザイン

NOBEL 2012 Economics: Stable allocations and market design p.54

12月10日には、2012年のノーベル科学賞の受賞者がストックホルムに集まり、受賞式と祝賀晩餐会が開かれる。News & Viewsでは、受賞の対象となった業績についての専門家のコメントの一部を掲載することにした。

doi: 10.1038/492054a

2012年度ノーベル賞特集 物理学賞:個々の量子系を操作する

NOBEL 2012 Physics: Manipulating individual quantum systems p.55

12月10日には、2012年のノーベル科学賞の受賞者がストックホルムに集まり、受賞式と祝賀晩餐会が開かれる。News & Viewsでは、受賞の対象となった業績についての専門家のコメントの一部を掲載することにした。

doi: 10.1038/492055a

2012年度ノーベル賞特集 医学生理学賞:成熟した細胞も若返り可能

NOBEL 2012 Physiology or medicine: Mature cells can be rejuvenated p.56

12月10日には、2012年のノーベル科学賞の受賞者がストックホルムに集まり、受賞式と祝賀晩餐会が開かれる。News & Viewsでは、受賞の対象となった業績についての専門家のコメントの一部を掲載することにした。

doi: 10.1038/492056a

2012年度ノーベル賞特集 化学賞:広く存在する受容体ファミリーの研究

NOBEL 2012 Chemistry: Studies of a ubiquitous receptor family p.57

12月10日には、2012年のノーベル科学賞の受賞者がストックホルムに集まり、受賞式と祝賀晩餐会が開かれる。News & Viewsでは、受賞の対象となった業績についての専門家のコメントの一部を掲載することにした。

doi: 10.1038/492057a



Algal genomes reveal evolutionary mosaicism and the fate of nucleomorphs p.59

Cryptophyte and chlorarachniophyte algae are transitional forms in the widespread secondary endosymbiotic acquisition of photosynthesis by engulfment of eukaryotic algae. Unlike most secondary plastid-bearing algae, miniaturized versions of the endosymbiont nuclei (nucleomorphs) persist in cryptophytes and chlorarachniophytes. To determine why, and to address other fundamental questions about eukaryote–eukaryote endosymbiosis, we sequenced the nuclear genomes of the cryptophyte Guillardia theta and the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans. Both genomes have >21,000 protein genes and are intron rich, and B. natans exhibits unprecedented alternative splicing for a single-celled organism. Phylogenomic analyses and subcellular targeting predictions reveal extensive genetic and biochemical mosaicism, with both host- and endosymbiont-derived genes servicing the mitochondrion, the host cell cytosol, the plastid and the remnant endosymbiont cytosol of both algae. Mitochondrion-to-nucleus gene transfer still occurs in both organisms but plastid-to-nucleus and nucleomorph-to-nucleus transfers do not, which explains why a small residue of essential genes remains locked in each nucleomorph.

doi: 10.1038/nature11681


Non-synaptic inhibition between grouped neurons in an olfactory circuit p.66

Diverse sensory organs, including mammalian taste buds and insect chemosensory sensilla, show a marked compartmentalization of receptor cells; however, the functional impact of this organization remains unclear. Here we show that compartmentalized Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) communicate with each other directly. The sustained response of one ORN is inhibited by the transient activation of a neighbouring ORN. Mechanistically, such lateral inhibition does not depend on synapses and is probably mediated by ephaptic coupling. Moreover, lateral inhibition in the periphery can modulate olfactory behaviour. Together, the results show that integration of olfactory information can occur via lateral interactions between ORNs. Inhibition of a sustained response by a transient response may provide a means of encoding salience. Finally, a CO2-sensitive ORN in the malaria mosquito Anopheles can also be inhibited by excitation of an adjacent ORN, suggesting a broad occurrence of lateral inhibition in insects and possible applications in insect control.

doi: 10.1038/nature11712


The entorhinal grid map is discretized p.72

The medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) is part of the brain’s circuit for dynamic representation of self-location. The metric of this representation is provided by grid cells, cells with spatial firing fields that tile environments in a periodic hexagonal pattern. Limited anatomical sampling has obscured whether the grid system operates as a unified system or a conglomerate of independent modules. Here we show with recordings from up to 186 grid cells in individual rats that grid cells cluster into a small number of layer-spanning anatomically overlapping modules with distinct scale, orientation, asymmetry and theta-frequency modulation. These modules can respond independently to changes in the geometry of the environment. The discrete topography of the grid-map, and the apparent autonomy of the modules, differ from the graded topography of maps for continuous variables in several sensory systems, raising the possibility that the modularity of the grid map is a product of local self-organizing network dynamics.

doi: 10.1038/nature11649



Extremely metal-poor gas at a redshift of 7 p.79

The spectrum of a quasar at redshift 7.04 reveals absorption from a large column of foreground neutral hydrogen with no corresponding heavy elements; this absorbing gas is either diffuse and intergalactic but has not yet been ionized by starlight at this early epoch, or it is gravitationally bound to a proto-galaxy that has a chemical abundance <1/10,000 the solar level.

doi: 10.1038/nature11612

宇宙:非常に若いL1527 IRS系にあるケプラー円盤を持つ太陽質量の約0.2倍の原始星

A ∼0.2-solar-mass protostar with a Keplerian disk in the very young L1527 IRS system p.83

In the earliest stage of star formation, protostars accrete mass from their surrounding envelopes through circumstellar disks; observations of the protostar L1527 IRS find a large, rotating proto-planetary disk from which the protostellar mass is measured to be 0.19 solar masses, with a protostar-to-envelope mass ratio of about 0.2.

doi: 10.1038/nature11610


Controlled-reflectance surfaces with film-coupled colloidal nanoantennas p.86

Randomly adsorbing chemically synthesized silver nanocubes, each of which is the optical analogue of a grounded patch antenna, onto a nanoscale-thick polymer spacer layer on a gold film results in a metamaterial surface with a reflectance spectrum that can be tailored by varying the geometry.

doi: 10.1038/nature11615


Continuous gas-phase synthesis of nanowires with tunable properties p.90

Aerotaxy, an aerosol-based growth method, is used to produce gallium arsenide nanowires with a growth rate of about 1 micrometre per second, which is 20 to 1,000 times higher than previously reported for traditional nanowires and allows sensitive and reproducible control of the nanowires’ optical and electronic properties.

doi: 10.1038/nature11652


Practical and innate carbon–hydrogen functionalization of heterocycles p.95

It is shown that zinc sulphinate salts can be used to transfer alkyl radicals to heterocycles, allowing for the mild, direct and operationally simple formation of medicinally relevant carbon–carbon bonds while reacting in a complementary fashion to other innate carbon–hydrogen functionalization methods.

doi: 10.1038/nature11680


The root of branching river networks p.100

Models and field measurements together show that the branching patterns of fine-scale river networks are the result of coupled instabilities in the erosional processes that drive valley incision.

doi: 10.1038/nature11672


Identification of a rudimentary neural crest in a non-vertebrate chordate p.104

The sessile tunicate Ciona intestinalis possesses a lineage of cells, originating at the margin of the neural plate, that express several neural crest specification genes and can be reprogrammed into migrating ectomesenchyme by the targeted misexpression of Twist.

doi: 10.1038/nature11589


EZH2 inhibition as a therapeutic strategy for lymphoma with EZH2-activating mutations p.108

EZH2 is a methyltransferase that is mutated in lymphoma; here a potent small molecule inhibitor of EZH2 is described, which inhibits the proliferation of EZH2 mutant cell lines and growth of EZH2 mutant xenografts in mice, thus providing a potential treatment for EZH2 mutant lymphoma.

doi: 10.1038/nature11606


Fucose sensing regulates bacterial intestinal colonization p.113

FusKR, a fucose-sensing two-component system, has been identified in enterohaemorrhagic E. coli, linking fucose utilization and virulence factor gene expression and providing insight into how sensing of a host signal can facilitate bacterial colonization.

doi: 10.1038/nature11623


HIV therapy by a combination of broadly neutralizing antibodies in humanized mice p.118

Passive immunotherapy with a combination of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies is shown to be effective in suppressing HIV replication in a humanized mouse model.

doi: 10.1038/nature11604


The calcium-sensing receptor regulates the NLRP3 inflammasome through Ca2+ and cAMP p.123

Evidence is presented that activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome is regulated by the calcium-sensing receptor (CASR).

doi: 10.1038/nature11588


Structure of a force-conveying cadherin bond essential for inner-ear mechanotransduction p.128

A combination of structural, computational and biophysical tools is used to characterize the bond between tip-link proteins protocadherin 15 and cadherin 23, which have an essential role in inner-ear mechanotransduction; the bond, involving an extended protein handshake, is found to be affected by deafness mutations and is mechanically strong enough to resist forces in hair cells, adding to our understanding of hair-cell sensory transduction and interactions among cadherins.

doi: 10.1038/nature11590


B12 cofactors directly stabilize an mRNA regulatory switch p.133

The crystal structures of two different cobalamin (vitamin B12)-binding riboswitches are determined; the structures reveal how cobalamin facilitates interdomain interactions to regulate gene expression.

doi: 10.1038/nature11607


An alternative route to cyclic terpenes by reductive cyclization in iridoid biosynthesis p.138

Iridoids are a large family of bicyclic natural products that possess anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial activities; here the essential cyclization step in their biosynthesis is identified, opening up the possibility of production of naturally occurring and synthetic variants of iridoids for use in pharmacy or agriculture.

doi: 10.1038/nature11692

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