Volume 494 Issue 7436


Preventive therapy p.147

Stem-cell trials must be made easier, so that treatments can be based on real data.

doi: 10.1038/494147b

A deal on the horizon p.147

Leaders have finally thrashed out the European Union budget for the next seven years. But how much money will go to research is yet to be confirmed.

doi: 10.1038/494147a

Damage control p.148

Planning for extreme events must incorporate not just infrastructure but societal preparedness.

doi: 10.1038/494148a


News Features

News & Views

Neuroscience: To go or not to go p.178

A study shows that, rather than sequentially starting and stopping a movement, two parallel pathways involving neurons in the brain's basal ganglia seem to work in tandem to accomplish the complex task of motion. See Letter p.238

doi: 10.1038/nature11856

Asymmetric synthesis: Relay catalysis at a boron centre p.179

A boron complex catalyses the addition of allyl groups — hydrocarbon motifs — to 'activated imines' in a relay-like process, generating synthetically useful compounds as single mirror-image isomers. See Letter p.216

doi: 10.1038/494179a

Cell biology: Beneficial lessons from viruses p.181

To thwart the antimicrobial responses of their hosts, pathogens have evolved diverse mechanisms, including autophagy. Knowledge of such mechanisms has now led to a pro-autophagy peptide that may be of therapeutic value. See Article p.201

doi: 10.1038/nature11947

Earth science: All rise for the case of the missing magma p.182

A detailed geological analysis of a ridge in the Indian Ocean suggests that compositional variations in Earth's mantle have a surprisingly crucial role in the uplift of a bathymetric bulge along the ridge. See Article p.195

doi: 10.1038/nature11950


Molecular signatures of G-protein-coupled receptors p.185

A systematic investigation of high-resolution G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) structures uncovers a conserved inter-helical network of non-covalent contacts that defines the GPCR fold, and provides insights into the molecular determinants of different GPCR conformations.

doi: 10.1038/nature11896


Thin crust as evidence for depleted mantle supporting the Marion Rise p.195

The global ridge system is dominated by oceanic rises reflecting large variations in axial depth associated with mantle hotspots. The little-studied Marion Rise is as large as the Icelandic Rise, considering both length and depth, but has an axial rift (rather than a high) nearly its entire length. Uniquely along the Southwest Indian Ridge systematic sampling allows direct examination of crustal architecture over its full length. Here we show that, unlike the Icelandic Rise, peridotites are extensively exposed high on the rise, revealing that the crust is generally thin, and often missing, over a rifted rise. Therefore the Marion Rise must be largely an isostatic response to ancient melting events that created low-density depleted mantle beneath the Southwest Indian Ridge rather than thickened crust or a large thermal anomaly. The origin of this depleted mantle is probably the mantle emplaced into the African asthenosphere during the Karoo and Madagascar flood basalt events.

doi: 10.1038/nature11842

Identification of a candidate therapeutic autophagy-inducing peptide p.201

The lysosomal degradation pathway of autophagy has a crucial role in defence against infection, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer and ageing. Accordingly, agents that induce autophagy may have broad therapeutic applications. One approach to developing such agents is to exploit autophagy manipulation strategies used by microbial virulence factors. Here we show that a peptide, Tat–beclin 1—derived from a region of the autophagy protein, beclin 1, which binds human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 Nef—is a potent inducer of autophagy, and interacts with a newly identified negative regulator of autophagy, GAPR-1 (also called GLIPR2). Tat–beclin 1 decreases the accumulation of polyglutamine expansion protein aggregates and the replication of several pathogens (including HIV-1) in vitro, and reduces mortality in mice infected with chikungunya or West Nile virus. Thus, through the characterization of a domain of beclin 1 that interacts with HIV-1 Nef, we have developed an autophagy-inducing peptide that has potential efficacy in the treatment of human diseases.

doi: 10.1038/nature11866


The structure of the asteroid 4 Vesta as revealed by models of planet-scale collisions p.207

Three-dimensional simulations of the global evolution of asteroid 4 Vesta under two overlapping planet-scale collisions closely reproduce its observed shape; but expected large areas of olivine-rich rocks and pure diogenites are not observed on the surface, possibly implying that the outer ~100 km is composed mainly of a basaltic crust (eucrites) with ultramafic intrusions (diogenites).

doi: 10.1038/nature11892

Insolation-induced mid-Brunhes transition in Southern Ocean ventilation and deep-ocean temperature p.222

Model simulations show that in response to insolation changes only, southern westerlies and feedbacks between sea ice, temperature, evaporation and salinity caused vigorous Southern Ocean ventilation and cooler deep ocean during the interglacials before the mid-Brunhes transition, suggesting that this transition may in fact have resulted from a series of individual interglacial responses to various combinations of insolation conditions.

doi: 10.1038/nature11790

Vertebral architecture in the earliest stem tetrapods p.226

X-ray synchrotron microtomography has revealed the three-dimensional vertebral architecture of Ichthyostega, and other crucial and celebrated early tetrapods; a surprising feature is the relationship between the vertebral elements, with the pleurocentra unexpectedly attached to the succeeding intercentrum, suggesting a ‘reverse’ rhachitomous design.

doi: 10.1038/nature11825