Unintended consequences p.7

After the introduction of a clumsily worded new rule, the UK government should move quickly to reassure scientists that they can continue to advise policymakers.

doi: 10.1038/531007a

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Future present p.7

A young global-sustainability platform deserves time to find its feet.

doi: 10.1038/531007b

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Brain power p.8

As brain stimulation finds non-medical uses, now is the time to consider its implications.

doi: 10.1038/531008a

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Speedier Arctic data as warm winter shrinks sea ice p.15

Scientists push for better monitoring of what remains.

doi: 10.1038/531015a

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India’s budget keeps dream of genomics hub alive p.16

Biotechnology agency wants to upgrade capabilities to kick-start economic growth.

doi: 10.1038/531016a

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Conflicting laws threaten Ukrainian science p.18

Country’s austerity budget stands in way of law to modernize Soviet-era academy.

doi: 10.1038/531018a

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Spectre of Ebola haunts Zika response p.19

Agencies rush to show that outbreak tactics have improved.

doi: 10.1038/531019a

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Successful test drive for space-based gravitational-wave detector p.20

Mission paves the way for planned €1-billion space observatory.

doi: 10.1038/nature.2016.19452

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Epic El Niño yields massive data trove p.20

Waning warming event studied in unprecedented detail.

doi: 10.1038/531020a

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News Features


Can fracking power Europe? p.22


doi: 10.1038/531022a

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The nanolight revolution is coming p.26


doi: 10.1038/531026a

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News & Views


Organic chemistry: Reactions triggered electrically p.38


doi: 10.1038/531038a

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Evolution: Mitochondria in the second act p.39


doi: 10.1038/nature16876

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Gravitational waves: Dawn of a new astronomy p.40


doi: 10.1038/nature17306

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Stem cells: Dietary fat promotes intestinal dysregulation p.42


doi: 10.1038/531042a

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Space science: Cosmic rays beyond the knees p.43


doi: 10.1038/531043a

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Regeneration: Stem cells make the bowel nervous p.44


doi: 10.1038/nature16877

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Genomic analyses identify molecular subtypes of pancreatic cancer p.47

An integrated genomic analysis of 456 human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas identifies four subtypes defined by transcriptional expression profiles and show that these are associated with distinct histopathological characteristics and differential prognosis.

doi: 10.1038/nature16965

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High-fat diet enhances stemness and tumorigenicity of intestinal progenitors p.53

A high-fat diet increases the number of intestinal stem cells in mammals, both in vivo and in intestinal organoids; a pathway that involves PPAR-δ confers organoid-initiating capacity to non-stem cells and induces them to form in vivo tumours after loss of the Apc tumour suppressor.

doi: 10.1038/nature17173

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Priming and polymerization of a bacterial contractile tail structure p.59

A combination of X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, functional assays and time-lapse fluorescence microscopy shows that a protein of previously unknown function, TssA, forms a dodecameric complex that interacts with components of the tube and sheath of the type VI secretion system of bacteria, and that it primes and coordinates biogenesis of both the tail tube and the sheath.

doi: 10.1038/nature17182

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Structural basis of outer membrane protein insertion by the BAM complex p.64

Two crystal structures of the Escherichia coli β-barrel assembly machinery (BAM complex) are presented, one of which includes all five subunits (BamA–BamE), in two distinct conformational states; together with functional assays and molecular dynamics stimulations, these structures help to generate a model for outer membrane protein insertion.

doi: 10.1038/nature17199

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A large light-mass component of cosmic rays at 1017–1017.5 electronvolts from radio observations p.70

Cosmic rays are the highest-energy particles found in nature. Measurements of the mass composition of cosmic rays with energies of 1017–1018 electronvolts are essential to understanding whether they have galactic or extragalactic sources. It has also been proposed that the astrophysical neutrino signal comes from accelerators capable of producing cosmic rays of these energies. Cosmic rays initiate air showers—cascades of secondary particles in the atmosphere—and their masses can be inferred from measurements of the atmospheric depth of the shower maximum (Xmax; the depth of the air shower when it contains the most particles) or of the composition of shower particles reaching the ground. Current measurements have either high uncertainty, or a low duty cycle and a high energy threshold. Radio detection of cosmic rays is a rapidly developing technique for determining Xmax (refs 10, 11) with a duty cycle of, in principle, nearly 100 per cent. The radiation is generated by the separation of relativistic electrons and positrons in the geomagnetic field and a negative charge excess in the shower front. Here we report radio measurements of Xmax with a mean uncertainty of 16 grams per square centimetre for air showers initiated by cosmic rays with energies of 1017–1017.5 electronvolts. This high resolution in Xmax enables us to determine the mass spectrum of the cosmic rays: we find a mixed composition, with a light-mass fraction (protons and helium nuclei) of about 80 per cent. Unless, contrary to current expectations, the extragalactic component of cosmic rays contributes substantially to the total flux below 1017.5 electronvolts, our measurements indicate the existence of an additional galactic component, to account for the light composition that we measured in the 1017–1017.5 electronvolt range.

doi: 10.1038/nature16976

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Controlling spin relaxation with a cavity p.74

By coupling donor spins in silicon to a superconducting microwave cavity and tuning the spins to the cavity resonance, the rate of spin relaxation is increased by three orders of magnitude compared to that of detuned spins; in such a regime, spontaneous emission of radiation is the dominant mechanism of spin relaxation.

doi: 10.1038/nature16944

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Condensation on slippery asymmetric bumps p.78

A surface engineering approach is described that is inspired by the water-condensation capability of the bumps on desert beetles, the droplet transportation facilitated by cactus spines and the slippery coating of the pitcher plant, to produce a structure with many water-harvesting applications.

doi: 10.1038/nature16956

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Stable amorphous georgeite as a precursor to a high-activity catalyst p.83

Hydroxycarbonate minerals such as zincian malachite and aurichalcite are well known precursors to catalysts for methanol-synthesis and low-temperature water–gas shift reactions; here, a supercritical antisolvent method is used to prepare highly stable georgeite—a hydroxycarbonate mineral that has hitherto been ignored because of its rarity, but which is found to be a superior catalyst precursor.

doi: 10.1038/nature16935

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Electrostatic catalysis of a Diels–Alder reaction p.88

Theory suggests that many chemical reactions (not simply, as is often thought, redox reactions) might be catalysed by an applied electric field; experimental evidence for this is now provided from single-molecule studies of the formation of carbon–carbon bonds in a Diels–Alder reaction.

doi: 10.1038/nature16989

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Upper-plate controls on co-seismic slip in the 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-oki earthquake p.92

Residual topography and gravity anomalies reveal a tectonic boundary in northeast Japan, which is proposed to represent the offshore continuation of the Median Tectonic Line; the contrast in frictional properties across this structure may control earthquake behaviour there, as recently demonstrated by the giant 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake.

doi: 10.1038/nature16945

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Evidence from cyclostomes for complex regionalization of the ancestral vertebrate brain p.97

The brain of the hagfish, a cyclostome related to the lamprey, develops domains equivalent to the median ganglionic eminence and the rhombic lip, resembling the brains of gnathostomes (jawed vertebrates), suggesting that brain regionalization in jawed vertebrates occurred before the divergence of cyclostomes and gnathostomes more than 500 million years ago.

doi: 10.1038/nature16518

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Late acquisition of mitochondria by a host with chimaeric prokaryotic ancestry p.101

Evidence that among the eukaryotic ancestor genes, those derived from the proto-mitochondrion have the closest evolutionary distances to their bacterial relatives.

doi: 10.1038/nature16941

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Deriving human ENS lineages for cell therapy and drug discovery in Hirschsprung disease p.105

A differentiation protocol to obtain enteric nervous system (ENS) progenitors and a range of neurons from human pluripotent stem cells is developed; the cells can migrate and graft to the colon of a chick embryo and an adult mouse colon, including in a mouse model of Hirschsprung disease, in which a functional rescue is observed.

doi: 10.1038/nature16951

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Mutant Kras copy number defines metabolic reprogramming and therapeutic susceptibilities p.110

Mutant Kras lung tumours are not a single disease but comprise two classes of tumours with distinct metabolic profiles, prognosis and therapeutic susceptibility, which can be discriminated by their relative mutant Kras allelic content.

doi: 10.1038/nature16967

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Cryo-electron microscopy structure of a coronavirus spike glycoprotein trimer p.114

The high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of a pre-fusion coronavirus spike trimer from mouse hepatitis virus is presented; the structure reveals architectural similarities to paramyxovirus F proteins, suggesting that these fusion proteins may have evolved from a distant common ancestor.

doi: 10.1038/nature16988

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Pre-fusion structure of a human coronavirus spike protein p.118

A 4.0 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of the pre-fusion form of the trimeric spike from the human coronavirus HKU1 provides insight into how the spike protein mediates host-cell attachment and membrane fusion.

doi: 10.1038/nature17200

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Crystal structure of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B p.122

The crystal structure of Schizosaccharomyces pombe guanine nucleotide exchange factor eIF2B, providing a structural framework for the eIF2B-mediated mechanism of stress-induced translational control.

doi: 10.1038/nature16991

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