Volume 493 Number 7433


Vigilance needed p.451

Experiments that make deadly pathogens more dangerous demand the utmost scrutiny.

doi: 10.1038/493451b

Genetic privacy p.451

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.

doi: 10.1038/493451a

Science stakes p.452

With the Royal Institution in trouble, Britain’s crowded public-science scene must evolve.

doi: 10.1038/493452a


News Features

News & Views

Neuroscience: Strength in numbers p.482

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

doi: 10.1038/493482a

Bioenergy: Biofuel production on the margins p.483

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

doi: 10.1038/nature11853

Solar physics: Towards ever smaller length scales p.485

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

doi: 10.1038/493485a

Palaeontology: Gritting their teeth p.486

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.

doi: 10.1038/493486a

Cancer: The to and fro of tumour spread p.487

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.

doi: 10.1038/493487a


LTP requires a reserve pool of glutamate receptors independent of subunit type p.495

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11775


Laser cooling of a semiconductor by 40 kelvin p.504

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11721

Stable creeping fault segments can become destructive as a result of dynamic weakening p.518

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11703

Insights into bilaterian evolution from three spiralian genomes OPEN p.526

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11696

Functional and evolutionary insight from the crystal structure of rubella virus protein E1 p.552

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11741

TET2 promotes histone O-GlcNAcylation during gene transcription p.561

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.

doi: 10.1038/nature11742