Volume 526 Issue 7575


Burst bubbles p.609

Two medical-technology companies illustrate the ups and downs of innovation.

doi: 10.1038/526609b

Power struggle p.609

The UK government’s decision to subsidize a nuclear power station while cutting support for renewables is short-sighted.

doi: 10.1038/526609a

Ghost story p.610

The problem of abandoned fishing gear and its effects on marine life deserve greater attention.

doi: 10.1038/526610a


News Features

Before we drown we may die of thirst p.624

The island nation of Kiribati is one of the world's most vulnerable to rising sea levels. But residents may have to leave well before the ocean claims their homes.

doi: 10.1038/526624a

News & Views

Caspase target drives pyroptosis p.642

Inflammatory caspase proteins help to control pathogen replication by triggering pyroptotic cell death. It now emerges that cleavage of the caspase substrate gasdermin D is sufficient to induce pyroptosis. See Articles p.660 & p.666

doi: 10.1038/nature15632

Random sudoku light p.643

A clever approach has been used to imprint a phase pattern on a laser beam. The pattern is not only random at each point, but also depends on information stored elsewhere in the pattern.

doi: 10.1038/526643a

Pigments on the move p.644

In plant cells, the pigment anthocyanin is transported to a membrane-bounded organelle called the vacuole for storage. A previously unidentified transport pathway involving vacuolar-membrane extensions mediates this process.

doi: 10.1038/526644a

Protein modification in a trice p.646

Organometallic reagents have been developed that chemically modify proteins and peptides specifically at cysteine amino-acid residues — potentially offering a general route to making therapeutically useful compounds. See Letter p.687

doi: 10.1038/526646b

Homo sapiens in China 80,000 years ago p.647

A discovery in southern China of human teeth dated to more than 80,000 years old indicates that Homo sapiens was present in the region considerably earlier than had previously been suspected. See Letter p.696

doi: 10.1038/nature15640

Death by experiment for local realism p.649

A fundamental scientific assumption called local realism conflicts with certain predictions of quantum mechanics. Those predictions have now been verified, with none of the loopholes that have compromised earlier tests. See Letter p.682

doi: 10.1038/nature15631

Antibiotic tricks a switch p.650

A screen for compounds that block a bacterial biosynthetic pathway has uncovered an antibiotic lead that shuts off pathogen growth by targeting a molecular switch in a regulatory RNA structure. See Article p.672

doi: 10.1038/nature15635


Selective small-molecule inhibition of an RNA structural element p.672

A novel drug, ribocil, is shown to mimic the binding of a natural ligand to a bacterial riboflavin riboswitch (a non-coding stretch of messenger RNA whose structure is affected by a ligand—usually one related to the function of the protein encoded by the messenger RNA) to cause inhibition of bacterial growth; the ability to target an RNA structural element with a synthetic small molecule may expand our view of the target space susceptible to therapeutic intervention.

doi: 10.1038/nature15542


Abundant molecular oxygen in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko p.678

In situ measurement of O2 in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko shows local abundances ranging from one per cent to ten per cent relative to H2O; the spatial and temporal uniformity of the O2/H2O ratio suggests that primordial O2 was incorporated into the nucleus during the comet’s formation.

doi: 10.1038/nature15707

Decadal slowdown of a land-terminating sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet despite warming p.692

Whether or not an increase in meltwater will make ice sheets move more quickly has been contentious, because water lubricates the ice–rock interface and speeds up the ice, but also stimulates the development of efficient drainage; now, a long-term and large-area study of a land-terminating margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet finds that more meltwater does not equal higher velocity.

doi: 10.1038/nature15722

The earliest unequivocally modern humans in southern China p.696

A collection of 47 unequivocally modern human teeth from a cave in southern China shows that modern humans were in the region at least 80,000 years ago, and possibly as long as 120,000 years ago, which is twice as long as the earliest known modern humans in Europe; the population exhibited more derived features than contemporaneous hominins in northern and central China, adding to the complexity of the human story.

doi: 10.1038/nature15696

Thalamic control of sensory selection in divided attention p.705

The authors trained mice to attend to or suppress vision based on behavioral context and show, through novel and established techniques, that changes in visual gain rely on tunable feedforward inhibition of visual thalamus via innervating thalamic reticular neurons; these findings introduce a subcortical model of attention in which modality-specific thalamic reticular subnetworks mediate top-down and context-dependent control of sensory selection.

doi: 10.1038/nature15398

Yap-dependent reprogramming of Lgr5+ stem cells drives intestinal regeneration and cancer p.715

The gut epithelium has remarkable self-renewal capacity that under homeostatic conditions is driven by Wnt signalling in Lgr5+ intestinal stem cells (ISCs). However, the mechanisms underlying ISC regeneration after injury remain poorly understood. The Hippo signalling pathway mediates tissue growth and is important for regeneration. Here we demonstrate in mice that Yap, a downstream transcriptional effector of Hippo, is critical for recovery of intestinal epithelium after exposure to ionizing radiation. Yap transiently reprograms Lgr5+ ISCs by suppressing Wnt signalling and excessive Paneth cell differentiation, while promoting cell survival and inducing a regenerative program that includes Egf pathway activation. Accordingly, growth of Yap-deficient organoids is rescued by the Egfr ligand epiregulin, and we find that non-cell-autonomous production of stromal epiregulin may compensate for Yap loss in vivo. Consistent with key roles for regenerative signalling in tumorigenesis, we further demonstrate that Yap inactivation abolishes adenomas in the ApcMin mouse model of colon cancer, and that Yap-driven expansion of Apc−/− organoids requires the Egfr module of the Yap regenerative program. Finally, we show that in vivo Yap is required for progression of early Apc mutant tumour-initiating cells, suppresses their differentiation into Paneth cells, and induces a regenerative program and Egfr signalling. Our studies reveal that upon tissue injury, Yap reprograms Lgr5+ ISCs by inhibiting the Wnt homeostatic program, while inducing a regenerative program that includes activation of Egfr signalling. Moreover, our findings reveal a key role for the Yap regenerative pathway in driving cancer initiation.

doi: 10.1038/nature15382

Bacteriocin production augments niche competition by enterococci in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract p.719

The authors develop a mouse model of Enterococcus faecalis colonization to show that enterococci harbouring the bacteriocin-expressing plasmid pPD1 replace indigenous enterococci and have the ability to transfer the plasmid to other enterococci, which enhances the stability of the bacteriocin-expressing bacteria in the gut; this result suggests a therapeutic approach that leverages niche-specificity to eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria from infected individuals.

doi: 10.1038/nature15524

Crystal structure of the 500-kDa yeast acetyl-CoA carboxylase holoenzyme dimer p.723

Acetyl-CoA carboxylases (ACCs) are large, multi-domain enzymes with crucial functions in fatty acid metabolism and are potential drug targets; here the X-ray crystal structure of the full-length, 500-kDa holoenzyme dimer of the ACC from Saccharomyces cerevisiae is solved and reveals an organization quite different from that of other biotin-dependent carboxylases.

doi: 10.1038/nature15375