Institutions must carefully evaluate their researchers’ relationships with Wall Street.
A sustained commitment to mental-health treatment for Fukushima evacuees could also help survivors of future disasters.
Age-old field methods can tell us more about animal behaviour than can laboratory models.
Critics say that antibody therapy is too expensive for its African target population.
Universities indulge researchers’ ties to finance industry.
But research on induced stem cells may be the real winner.
Adoption by TV makers could expand the market for light-emitting nanocrystals.
Speedy sequencing underpins genetic analysis of burrowing in wild oldfield mice.
Inactivated virus vaccine could deliver the final blow.
Bob Paine fathered an idea — and an academic family — that changed ecology.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation — but not from the psychological impacts.
News & Views
Fossils of microorganisms from deep-sea sediment cores show that environmental change correlates closely with extinction but not with speciation, producing a nuanced view of the drivers of evolution. See Letter p.398
Magmas that have erupted at Earth's surface reveal a potential new mantle source. This source, which is rich in nickel and has a primordial helium isotopic content, may have originated at great depth in the mantle. See Letter p.393
Cellular reprogramming to a stem-cell-like state is inefficient and poorly understood, despite its biomedical potential. Detailed molecular analyses of this process are now reported, and should help to overcome these limitations.
Sustained activity of the brain-specific enzyme PKM-ζ is thought to underlie the maintenance of long-term memories. Studies in PKM-ζ-deficient mice, however, cast the importance of this protein into question. See Letters p.416 & p.420
The use of confocal fluorescence microscopy to image defects in crystalline, porous solids known as metal–organic frameworks enables the relationship between the number of defects and the materials' properties to be determined.
A method has been developed to compute the precise quantum-mechanical properties of certain insulators. This approach avoids the uncertainties that are intrinsic to predictions made using existing approaches. See Article p.365
The properties of all materials arise largely from the quantum mechanics of their constituent electrons under the influence of the electric field of the nuclei. The solution of the underlying many-electron Schrödinger equation is a ‘non-polynomial hard’ problem, owing to the complex interplay of kinetic energy, electron–electron repulsion and the Pauli exclusion principle. The dominant computational method for describing such systems has been density functional theory. Quantum-chemical methods—based on an explicit ansatz for the many-electron wavefunctions and, hence, potentially more accurate—have not been fully explored in the solid state owing to their computational complexity, which ranges from strongly exponential to high-order polynomial in system size. Here we report the application of an exact technique, full configuration interaction quantum Monte Carlo to a variety of real solids, providing reference many-electron energies that are used to rigorously benchmark the standard hierarchy of quantum-chemical techniques, up to the ‘gold standard’ coupled-cluster ansatz, including single, double and perturbative triple particle–hole excitation operators. We show the errors in cohesive energies predicted by this method to be small, indicating the potential of this computationally polynomial scaling technique to tackle current solid-state problems.
Hyperconnectivity of neuronal circuits due to increased synaptic protein synthesis is thought to cause autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is strongly implicated in ASDs by means of upstream signalling; however, downstream regulatory mechanisms are ill-defined. Here we show that knockout of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 2 (4E-BP2)—an eIF4E repressor downstream of mTOR—or eIF4E overexpression leads to increased translation of neuroligins, which are postsynaptic proteins that are causally linked to ASDs. Mice that have the gene encoding 4E-BP2 (Eif4ebp2) knocked out exhibit an increased ratio of excitatory to inhibitory synaptic inputs and autistic-like behaviours (that is, social interaction deficits, altered communication and repetitive/stereotyped behaviours). Pharmacological inhibition of eIF4E activity or normalization of neuroligin 1, but not neuroligin 2, protein levels restores the normal excitation/inhibition ratio and rectifies the social behaviour deficits. Thus, translational control by eIF4E regulates the synthesis of neuroligins, maintaining the excitation-to-inhibition balance, and its dysregulation engenders ASD-like phenotypes.
The infrared luminosity of a young protostar (about 105 years old) is found to increase by a factor of ten in roughly one week every 25.34 days; this is attributed to pulsed accretion associated with an unseen binary companion.
Numerical simulations of a widely separated binary star system demonstrate that planetary systems around one star may often be strongly perturbed by the other star, triggering planetary ejections and increasing the orbital eccentricities of surviving planets.
The hardness, toughness and chemical stability of the well-known superhard material cubic boron nitride have been improved by using a synthesis technique based on specially prepared ‘onion-like’ precursor materials.
Proxy indicators of relative moisture balance, in combination with long control simulations from coupled climate models, show that the Indian Ocean drives multidecadal hydroclimate variability by altering the local Walker circulation, whereas the influence of the Pacific Ocean is minimal on these timescales.
Several nickel-rich and helium-rich lava samples from ocean islands and large igneous provinces suggest that mantle plume material formed by core–mantle interaction during the crystallization of a melt-rich layer or basal magma ocean.
Plate tectonics and climate change are shown to have driven the diversity and extinction of planktonic foraminifera throughout their evolutionary history.
The complex burrows created by oldfield mice are shown to be governed by genetic modules that each control an aspect of burrow size or shape.
Rare truncating mutations in the p53-inducible protein phosphatase PPM1D are shown to be associated with predisposition to breast cancer and ovarian cancer; notably, all of the mutations are mosaic in white blood cells but are not present in tumours, and probably have a gain-of-function effect.
Mice overexpressing eIF4E show autism-related behaviours and altered synaptic activity in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and striatum, and these phenotypes can be rescued with the cap-dependent translation inhibitor 4EGI-1.
Genetically removing PKM-ζ in mice has no effect on memory, and despite absence of this kinase, the original peptide inhibitor of PKM-ζ still disrupts memory in these mutant mice; these data re-open the exploration for key molecules regulating maintenance of long-term plasticity processes.
It was proposed that protein kinase M-ζ (PKM-ζ) is a key factor in long-term potentiation (LTP) and memory maintenance on the basis of the disruption of LTP and memory by inhibitors of PKM-ζ; however, here mice that do not express PKM-ζ are shown to have normal LTP and memory, thus casting doubts on a critical role for PKM-ζ in these processes.
When an odour activates a fly′s antennae asymmetrically, more neurotransmitter is released from olfactory receptor neuron axon branches ipsilateral to the antenna than from contralateral branches. This causes ipsilateral central olfactory neurons to begin spiking earlier and at a higher rate than contralateral neurons, thereby enabling a walking fly to turn towards the odour.
Five classes of phage genes are identified that protect phages from CRISPR-mediated bacterial immunity.
During normal ageing a low rate of division of pre-existing cardiomyocytes, rather than progenitor cells, is responsible for cardiomyocyte genesis; this process is increased fourfold during myocardial infarction.
Crystal structures of the Pol II–TFIIB complex in free form and bound by the DNA template and a short RNA product are reported; the latter complex represents an initially transcribing complex, a critical transient state in the pathway from transcription initiation to elongation.