The limits of free speech p.311

Unregulated drug marketing stifles science and harms patients. To suggest otherwise is an affront to liberty — not a protection of it.

doi: 10.1038/492311a

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A burden weighed p.311

Despite some shortcomings, a global study of health metrics should be applauded.

doi: 10.1038/492311b

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Head of the line p.312

Japanese scientists deserve support in their bid for the next big collider.

doi: 10.1038/492312a

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Mega-array reveals birthplace of giant stars p.319

Early results from Atacama telescope signal the opening of a scientific frontier.

doi: 10.1038/492319a

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Russia shakes up its universities p.320

Government plans to close struggling institutions and increase funding to the best.

doi: 10.1038/492320a

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Big biotech buys iconic genetics firm p.321

Amgen’s deal with deCODE Genetics shows value of combined medical and genetic data.

doi: 10.1038/492321a

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Global survey reveals impact of disability p.322

Study tracks changes in life expectancy and health burdens.

doi: 10.1038/492322a

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China’s patent boom brings legal wrangles p.323

Court decision sets precedent for protecting intellectual property.

doi: 10.1038/492323a

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2012 in review p.324

This epic year for science saw the discovery of the Higgs boson and Curiosity’s arrival on Mars, but researchers also felt the sting of austerity.

doi: 10.1038/492324a

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Images of the year p.328

Disintegrating ice, spectacular sunbursts and minuscule lizards are among 2012’s most striking pictures.

doi: 10.1038/492328a

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News Features


Nature's 10 p.335


doi: 10.1038/492335a

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News & Views


Thermal physics: Quantum interference heats up p.358


doi: 10.1038/492358a

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Neurodevelopmental disorders: Signalling pathways of fragile X syndrome p.359


doi: 10.1038/nature11764

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Cardiovascular biology: A boost for heart regeneration p.360


doi: 10.1038/nature11763

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Cancer: Metabolism in 'the driver's seat p.362


doi: 10.1038/492362a

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Epigenetics: Erase for a new start p.363


doi: 10.1038/492363a

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Low-temperature physics: Cool molecules p.364


doi: 10.1038/492364a

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Earth science: Go with the lows p.365

ポーラーロウ(polar low、極低気圧)として知られる強力な暴風の影響は、普通は気象モデルに取り込まれない。だが、ポーラーロウの海洋循環への影響を評価するシミュレーションは、これをモデルに取り込むべきであることを示唆している。

doi: 10.1038/492365a

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編集部のお勧めNews & Views

2012 Editors' choice p.366

今年掲載されたNews & Viewsの中から編集部が選んだ記事の抜粋を集めた。

doi: 10.1038/492366a

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Seventy-five genetic loci influencing the human red blood cell p.369

Anaemia is a chief determinant of global ill health, contributing to cognitive impairment, growth retardation and impaired physical capacity. To understand further the genetic factors influencing red blood cells, we carried out a genome-wide association study of haemoglobin concentration and related parameters in up to 135,367 individuals. Here we identify 75 independent genetic loci associated with one or more red blood cell phenotypes at P < 10−8, which together explain 4–9% of the phenotypic variance per trait. Using expression quantitative trait loci and bioinformatic strategies, we identify 121 candidate genes enriched in functions relevant to red blood cell biology. The candidate genes are expressed preferentially in red blood cell precursors, and 43 have haematopoietic phenotypes in Mus musculus or Drosophila melanogaster. Through open-chromatin and coding-variant analyses we identify potential causal genetic variants at 41 loci. Our findings provide extensive new insights into genetic mechanisms and biological pathways controlling red blood cell formation and function.

doi: 10.1038/nature11677

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Functional screening identifies miRNAs inducing cardiac regeneration p.376

In mammals, enlargement of the heart during embryonic development is primarily dependent on the increase in cardiomyocyte numbers. Shortly after birth, however, cardiomyocytes stop proliferating and further growth of the myocardium occurs through hypertrophic enlargement of the existing myocytes. As a consequence of the minimal renewal of cardiomyocytes during adult life, repair of cardiac damage through myocardial regeneration is very limited. Here we show that the exogenous administration of selected microRNAs (miRNAs) markedly stimulates cardiomyocyte proliferation and promotes cardiac repair. We performed a high-content microscopy, high-throughput functional screening for human miRNAs that promoted neonatal cardiomyocyte proliferation using a whole-genome miRNA library. Forty miRNAs strongly increased both DNA synthesis and cytokinesis in neonatal mouse and rat cardiomyocytes. Two of these miRNAs (hsa-miR-590 and hsa-miR-199a) were further selected for testing and were shown to promote cell cycle re-entry of adult cardiomyocytes ex vivo and to promote cardiomyocyte proliferation in both neonatal and adult animals. After myocardial infarction in mice, these miRNAs stimulated marked cardiac regeneration and almost complete recovery of cardiac functional parameters. The miRNAs identified hold great promise for the treatment of cardiac pathologies consequent to cardiomyocyte loss.

doi: 10.1038/nature11739

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FMRP targets distinct mRNA sequence elements to regulate protein expression p.382

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a multi-organ disease that leads to mental retardation, macro-orchidism in males and premature ovarian insufficiency in female carriers. FXS is also a prominent monogenic disease associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). FXS is typically caused by the loss of fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) expression, which codes for the RNA-binding protein FMRP. Here we report the discovery of distinct RNA-recognition elements that correspond to the two independent RNA-binding domains of FMRP, in addition to the binding sites within the messenger RNA targets for wild-type and I304N mutant FMRP isoforms and the FMRP paralogues FXR1P and FXR2P (also known as FXR1 and FXR2). RNA-recognition-element frequency, ratio and distribution determine target mRNA association with FMRP. Among highly enriched targets, we identify many genes involved in ASD and show that FMRP affects their protein levels in human cell culture, mouse ovaries and human brain. Notably, we discovered that these targets are also dysregulated in Fmr1−/− mouse ovaries showing signs of premature follicular overdevelopment. These results indicate that FMRP targets share signalling pathways across different cellular contexts. As the importance of signalling pathways in both FXS and ASD is becoming increasingly apparent, our results provide a ranked list of genes as basis for the pursuit of new therapeutic targets for these neurological disorders.

doi: 10.1038/nature11737

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High-resolution crystal structure of human protease-activated receptor 1 p.387

Protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1) is the prototypical member of a family of G-protein-coupled receptors that mediate cellular responses to thrombin and related proteases. Thrombin irreversibly activates PAR1 by cleaving the amino-terminal exodomain of the receptor, which exposes a tethered peptide ligand that binds the heptahelical bundle of the receptor to affect G-protein activation. Here we report the 2.2-Å-resolution crystal structure of human PAR1 bound to vorapaxar, a PAR1 antagonist. The structure reveals an unusual mode of drug binding that explains how a small molecule binds virtually irreversibly to inhibit receptor activation by the tethered ligand of PAR1. In contrast to deep, solvent-exposed binding pockets observed in other peptide-activated G-protein-coupled receptors, the vorapaxar-binding pocket is superficial but has little surface exposed to the aqueous solvent. Protease-activated receptors are important targets for drug development. The structure reported here will aid the development of improved PAR1 antagonists and the discovery of antagonists to other members of this receptor family.

doi: 10.1038/nature11701

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Dynamical age differences among coeval star clusters as revealed by blue stragglers p.393

Globular clusters can be grouped into a few distinct families on the basis of the radial distribution of ‘blue stragglers’, stars with masses greater than those at the turn-off point on the main sequence; this grouping can yield a direct measure of the cluster’s dynamical age purely from observed properties.

doi: 10.1038/nature11686

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Evaporative cooling of the dipolar hydroxyl radical p.396

Evaporative cooling of molecules has not been achieved so far, owing to unfavourable collision properties and trap losses; microwave-forced evaporative cooling of hydroxyl molecules loaded in a magnetic quadrupole trap is now reported.

doi: 10.1038/nature11718

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The Josephson heat interferometer p.401

A thermal analogue of a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID, widely used to measure small magnetic fields) is realized, in which the flow of heat between the superconductors is dependent on the quantum phase difference between them.

doi: 10.1038/nature11702

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Fractionalized excitations in the spin-liquid state of a kagome-lattice antiferromagnet p.406

Neutron scattering measurements on single-crystal samples of the mineral herbertsmithite, which is a spin-1/2 kagome-lattice antiferromagnet, provide evidence of fractionalized spin excitations at low temperatures, indicating that the ground state of herbertsmithite may be a quantum spin liquid.

doi: 10.1038/nature11659

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Quasi-cylindrical wave contribution in experiments on extraordinary optical transmission p.411

Results on light scattering from metal hole arrays show the relative importance of surface plasmon polaritons and quasi-cylindrical waves in extraordinary optical transmission.

doi: 10.1038/nature11669

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Laboratory measurements of the viscous anisotropy of olivine aggregates p.415

Measurements of the viscous anisotropy of highly deformed polycrystalline olivine find it to be approximately an order of magnitude larger than that predicted by grain-scale simulations; the maximum degree of anisotropy is reached at geologically low shear strain, such that deforming regions of the Earth’s upper mantle should exhibit significant viscous anisotropy.

doi: 10.1038/nature11671

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Flickering gives early warning signals of a critical transition to a eutrophic lake state p.419

Critical transitions in experimental and theoretical systems can be anticipated on the basis of specific warning signs, with ‘critical slowing down’ being the best studied; long-term data from a real system, a Chinese lake, now show that a flickering phenomenon can be observed up to 20 years before the critical transition to a eutrophic state.

doi: 10.1038/nature11655

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Repeated polyploidization of Gossypium genomes and the evolution of spinnable cotton fibres p.423

The Gossypium genus is used to investigate emergent consequences of polyploidy in cotton species; comparative genomic analyses reveal a complex evolutionary history including interactions among subgenomes that result in genetic novelty in elite cottons and provide insight into the evolution of spinnable fibres.

doi: 10.1038/nature11798

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A prefrontal cortex–brainstem neuronal projection that controls response to behavioural challenge p.428

High-speed tracking of effortful responses and neuronal activity in rats during a forced swim test identifies medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) neurons that respond during escape-related swimming but not normal locomotion, and optogenetics shows that mPFC neurons projecting to the brainstem dorsal raphe nucleus, which is implicated in depression, modulate this behavioural response to challenge.

doi: 10.1038/nature11617

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Layered reward signalling through octopamine and dopamine in Drosophila p.433

Dopamine is synonymous with reward in mammals but associated with aversive reinforcement in insects, where reward seems to be signalled by octopamine; here it is shown that flies have discrete populations of dopamine neurons representing positive or negative values that are coordinately regulated by octopamine.

doi: 10.1038/nature11614

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Somatic copy number mosaicism in human skin revealed by induced pluripotent stem cells p.438

A whole-genome and transcriptome analysis of 20 human induced pluripotent stem-cell lines shows that reprogramming does not necessarily add de novo copy number variants to what is already present in the somatic cells from which they originated.

doi: 10.1038/nature11629

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Tet1 controls meiosis by regulating meiotic gene expression p.443

A loss-of-function approach in mice is used to show that the methylcytosine dioxygenase Tet1 has a role in regulating meiosis and meiotic gene activation in female germ cells; Tet1 deficiency does not greatly affect genome-wide demethylation but has a more specific effect on the expression of a subset of meiotic genes.

doi: 10.1038/nature11709

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Structure of the Mediator head module p.448

The crystal structure of the Mediator head module from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is solved at 3.4 Å resolution.

doi: 10.1038/nature11670

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Ventral tegmental area GABA projections pause accumbal cholinergic interneurons to enhance associative learning p.452

GABA-releasing neurons from the ventral tegmental area that project to the nucleus accumbens are shown to block the firing of cholinergic accumbal interneurons, affecting learning in mice.

doi: 10.1038/nature11657

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