Experiments that make deadly pathogens more dangerous demand the utmost scrutiny.
The ability to identify an individual from their anonymous genome sequence, using a clever algorithm and data from public databases, threatens the principle of subject confidentiality.
With the Royal Institution in trouble, Britain’s crowded public-science scene must evolve.
But Antarctic glaciers may be more vulnerable than thought.
Study of lab-made viruses a ‘public-health responsibility’.
Oil industry maintains that dispersants should be part of routine response to deep-water blowouts.
Clinical-research techniques deployed to assess effectiveness of aid initiatives.
Improved instruments and a telescope windfall could aid the search for extrasolar life.
But new leadership’s largesse brings expectations of fast commercial pay-offs.
Tiny fish trapped in a virtual world provide a window into complex brain connections.
Praying, fighting, dancing, chanting — human rituals could illuminate the growth of community and the origins of civilization.
News & Views
A process called long-term potentiation mediates information storage — learning and memory — at the level of neurons. An in vitro study turns the molecular understanding of this process on its head. But researchers' opinions differ as to what can be inferred from these data. See Article p.495
An analysis shows that fuel made from wild, herbaceous vegetation grown on land currently unsuitable for cultivating field crops could contribute substantially to the United States' targets for biofuel production. See Letter p.514
Determining the real scale of structures in the Sun's corona has proved difficult because of limited spatial resolution. Now high-resolution imaging has allowed dynamic structures on scales of 150 kilometres to be observed. See Letter p.501
A comparison of the wearing effect of plant-derived silica and desert dust on tooth enamel suggests that extreme wear on teeth might not be caused by food. The findings may change some thoughts about the diets of human ancestors.
Two studies shed light on the role of cellular transitions between the epithelial and mesenchymal states during cancer metastasis, and provide food for thought as to which cellular processes should be targeted in cancer treatment.
Reconstruction of the Eemian interglacial from the new NEEM ice core shows that in spite of a climate warmer by eight degrees Celsius in Northern Greenland than that of the past millennium, the ice here was only a few hundred metres lower than its present level.
Long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission is thought to be an important cellular mechanism underlying memory formation. A widely accepted model posits that LTP requires the cytoplasmic carboxyl tail (C-tail) of the AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid) receptor subunit GluA1. To find the minimum necessary requirement of the GluA1 C-tail for LTP in mouse CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons, we used a single-cell molecular replacement strategy to replace all endogenous AMPA receptors with transfected subunits. In contrast to the prevailing model, we found no requirement of the GluA1 C-tail for LTP. In fact, replacement with the GluA2 subunit showed normal LTP, as did an artificially expressed kainate receptor not normally found at these synapses. The only conditions under which LTP was impaired were those with markedly decreased AMPA receptor surface expression, indicating a requirement for a reserve pool of receptors. These results demonstrate the synapse’s remarkable flexibility to potentiate with a variety of glutamate receptor subtypes, requiring a fundamental change in our thinking with regard to the core molecular events underlying synaptic plasticity.
Solar observations at a resolution of 0.2 arc seconds show the reconnection and relaxation of magnetic braids in a coronal active region, leading to the dissipation of sufficient energy to heat the structures to about 4,000,000 K.
Net laser cooling from 290 kelvin to about 250 kelvin is achieved in semiconductor cadmium sulphide ‘nanobelts’ and attributed to strong coupling between excitons and longitudinal optical phonons.
When molecules of a phenalenyl derivative, which has no net spin, are deposited on a ferromagnet, they develop into a magnetic supramolecular layer with spin-filtering properties; this could be the basis for a new approach to building molecular magnetic devices.
A comparative assessment of six alternative cropping systems over 20 years shows that, once well established, successional herbaceous vegetation grown on marginal lands has a direct greenhouse gas emissions mitigation capacity that rivals that of purpose-grown crops.
An earthquake source model in which stable, rate-strengthening behaviour at low slip rates is combined with coseismic weakening due to rapid shear heating of pore fluids, allowing unstable slip to occur in segments that can creep between events, explains a number of both long-term and coseismic observations of faults that hosted the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake.
Biomarker and stable isotopic analysis of lipid residues from perforated pottery vessels from sixth millennium bc Europe are consistent with these vessels having been used for making cheese, a low-lactose dairy product with digestion and storage advantages for the prehistoric lactose-intolerant farming communities.
Comparative analysis of the genomes of one mollusc (Lottia gigantea) and two annelids (Capitella teleta and Helobdella robusta) enable a more complete reconstruction of genomic features of the last common ancestors of protostomes, bilaterians and metazoans; against this conserved background they provide the first glimpse into lineage-specific evolution and diversity of the lophotrochozoans.
Optogenetic induction of phasic, but not tonic, firing in VTA dopamine neurons induces susceptibility to stress in mice undergoing a subthreshold social-defeat paradigm and in previously resilient mice that have been subjected to repeated social-defeat stress, and this effect is projection-pathway specific.
Specific manipulation of midbrain dopamine neurons in freely moving rodents shows that their inhibition or excitation immediately modulates depression-like phenotypes that are induced by chronic mild stress, and that their activation alters the neural encoding of depression-related behaviours in the nucleus accumbens.
The authors show that p53 helps cancer cells survive serine depletion by coordinating metabolic remodelling; a diet lacking serine slowed tumour growth in mice, with p53-null tumours showing greatest sensitivity to serine starvation.
Airway epithelial cells are important in immune homeostasis in that they dampen immune activation by clearing dying cells and producing anti-inflammatory cytokines.
The crystal structure of rubella virus E1 glycoprotein in its post-fusion form reveals a class II fusion protein with distinct features so far unseen in any other crystallized fusion protein; the location of an antibody-neutralization epitope also suggests that rubella-specific antibodies may function through prevention of E1 glycoprotein trimer formation during cell entry.
In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe RNA interference (RNAi) machinery promotes heterochromatin assembly and silencing of centromeric repeats; here it is shown that RNAi participates in silencing other genomic regions, such as sexual differentiation genes and retrotransposons, and this process is regulated by developmental and environmental signals.
TET2 is shown to associate with OGT, which catalyses O-GlcNAcylation, and the two enzymes are found together at transcription start sites; TET2 facilitates the activity of OGT in O-GlcNAcylation of histone 2B, and epigenetic modifications to both DNA and histones by TET2 and OGT may be important in gene transcription regulation.