Demands to analyse Connecticut school shooter’s DNA are misguided and could lead to dangerous stigmatization, or worse.
Health-benefit claims for Europe’s foods must at last be substantiated by science.
We should focus on dangers that we can control, and particularly on those of our own creation.
Funding and politics hobble CCS technology, seen as the best hope for cleaning up coal.
Physicists borrow an old tool from geology to probe the interior layers of metamaterials.
Nations debate how to share the costs of cutting emissions.
Fears of immune response have been overestimated.
As cases of misconduct rise, ethicists test an approach for reforming offenders.
Brian Butterworth is on a crusade to understand the number deficit called dyscalculia — and to help those who have it.
Catastrophes from the past will strike again — we just do not know when.
News & Views
Physicists have come up with the mind-boggling concept of a time crystal. This intriguing proposal, which is based on the notion of broken time-translation symmetry, might open up a whole new field of research.
Most fish living in marine reserves are older, bigger and more fecund than those outside their borders, but they are also slower to flee a threat. The potential for 'spillover' of such fish into fisheries may boost support for reserves.
Hagfish embryos show developmental features that contradict the idea that these jawless fish are the most primitive living vertebrates. The findings also help to trace the evolution of vertebrate cranial structure. See Article p.175
An array of more than 4,000 optical antennas working in unison has been demonstrated on a millimetre-scale silicon chip. The result highlights the remarkable capabilities of optical integration in silicon. See Letter p.195
The hormone insulin has a central role in human physiology, yet the answer to a fundamental biochemical question — how it binds to its cell-surface receptor — has remained elusive, until now. See Letter p.241
A method for dissecting the polymeric networks of gels enables the number of loops — strands that connect to themselves — within them to be counted. This allows network morphologies to be correlated with gel properties.
A state-of-the-art numerical model shows that the advance of glaciers in a cooling climate depends strongly on the pre-existing landscape, and that glacial erosion paves the way for greater glacial extent in the future. See Letter p.206
Cyclostomes, the living jawless vertebrates including hagfishes and lampreys, represent the most basal lineage of vertebrates. Although the monophyly of cyclostomes has been supported by recent molecular analyses, the phenotypic traits of hagfishes, especially the lack of some vertebrate-defining features and the reported endodermal origin of the adenohypophysis, have been interpreted as hagfishes exhibiting a more ancestral state than those of all other vertebrates. Furthermore, the adult anatomy of hagfishes cannot be compared easily with that of lampreys. Here we describe the craniofacial development of a series of staged hagfish embryos, which shows that their adenohypophysis arises ectodermally, consistent with the molecular phylogenetic data. This finding also allowed us to identify a pan-cyclostome pattern, one not shared by jawed vertebrates. Comparative analyses indicated that many of the hagfish-specific traits can be explained by changes secondarily introduced into the hagfish lineage. We also propose a possibility that the pan-cyclostome pattern may reflect the ancestral programme for the craniofacial development of all living vertebrates.
Cellulose, the most abundant biological macromolecule, is an extracellular, linear polymer of glucose molecules. It represents an essential component of plant cell walls but is also found in algae and bacteria. In bacteria, cellulose production frequently correlates with the formation of biofilms, a sessile, multicellular growth form. Cellulose synthesis and transport across the inner bacterial membrane is mediated by a complex of the membrane-integrated catalytic BcsA subunit and the membrane-anchored, periplasmic BcsB protein. Here we present the crystal structure of a complex of BcsA and BcsB from Rhodobacter sphaeroides containing a translocating polysaccharide. The structure of the BcsA–BcsB translocation intermediate reveals the architecture of the cellulose synthase, demonstrates how BcsA forms a cellulose-conducting channel, and suggests a model for the coupling of cellulose synthesis and translocation in which the nascent polysaccharide is extended by one glucose molecule at a time.
A new ultraluminous X-ray source has been discovered in M 31, whose variability and associated bright, compact radio emission identify it as a stellar-mass black hole accreting close to the Eddington limit.
Observations of the young star HD 142527, whose disk is separated into inner and outer regions by a gap suggestive of the formation of a gaseous giant planet, show that accretion onto the star is maintained by a flow of gas across the gap, in agreement with dynamical models of planet formation.
A large-scale silicon nanophotonic phased array with more than 4,000 antennas is demonstrated using a state-of-the-art complementary metal-oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) process, enabling arbitrary holograms with tunability, which brings phased arrays to many new technological territories.
Topologically distinct colloidal particles introduced into a nematic liquid crystal align and generate topology-constrained three-dimensional director fields and defects in the liquid crystal fluid that can be manipulated with a variety of methods, opening up a new area of exploration in the field of soft matter.
Previously glaciated landscapes tend to have large areas concentrated at the same elevation; here it is shown that small climate changes can trigger massive glacial expansions for these landscapes, explaining long-term patterns of erosion in the Quaternary period.
Carbon-dioxide-rich kimberlitic melt explains the low velocity and high electrical conductivity of the mantle asthenosphere and controls the flux of incompatible elements at oceanic ridges.
Resequencing of genes from individuals of European and African American ancestry indicates that approximately 73% of all protein-coding SNVs and approximately 86% of SNVs predicted to be deleterious arose in the past 5,000–10,000 years, and that European Americans carry an excess of deleterious variants in essential and Mendelian disease genes compared to African Americans.
Mechanotransduction channels studied to date are mainly involved with sensing noxious mechanical stimuli; here NOMPC, a member of the TRP ion channel family, is identified as a pore-forming subunit of an ion channel essential to the sensation of gentle touch in Drosophila.
Adult neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPCs) show high levels of fatty acid synthase (Fasn)-dependent de novo lipogenesis, a process that is controlled by Spot14 to regulate the rate of proliferation; this indicates a functional coupling between the regulation of lipid metabolism and adult NSPC proliferation.
The human long non-coding RNA TINCR binds to STAU1 and controls epidermal differentiation by stabilizing key differentiation mRNAs, by means of a TINCR-binding motif found enriched in epidermal differentiation genes.
A cell-autonomous role for the COUP-TFII transcription factor in prostate cancer cells is identified, in which COUP-TFII inhibits TGF-β signalling by binding to SMAD4; COUP-TFII promotes prostate tumorigenesis and metastasis in a mouse model, and is associated with more aggressive disease in human prostate cancers.
The three-dimensional structure of the insulin–insulin receptor complex has proved elusive, confounded by the complexity of producing the receptor protein; here is the first glimpse of the interaction between insulin and its primary binding site on the insulin receptor, a view based on four crystal structures of insulin bound to truncated insulin receptor complexes.
A new mechanism of chromosomal rearrangement is identified through the observation that broken or collapsed DNA replication forks restarted by homologous recombination have a high propensity for U-turns at short inverted repeats; the error-prone nature of this mechanism is suggested to contribute to gross chromosomal rearrangements and copy-number variations present in cancer and other genomic disorders.
Cohesin, which tethers sister chromatids together, is found to be cleaved by separase after DNA damage, resulting in cohesin dissociation and allowing for post-replicative repair of DNA double-strand breaks.
The crystal structure of the inner-membrane urea channel HpUreI from Helicobacter pylori, the causative organism of peptic ulcers, reveals how the channel selectively transports urea across the membrane and buffers the pathogen’s periplasmic pH against the acidic gastric environment.