Volume 543 Number 7646



News Features

News & Views

Dividing the dinosaurs p.494

The standard dinosaur evolutionary tree has two key branches: the 'bird-hipped' Ornithischia and the 'reptile-hipped' Saurischia. A revised tree challenges many ideas about the relationships between dinosaur groups. See Article p.501

doi: 10.1038/543494a

Bacterial transmission tactics p.495

Genome sequencing of Mycobacterium abscessus strains that infect the lungs suggests a possible shift in the bacterium's mode of infection from environmental acquisition to human transmission. This finding has clinical implications.

doi: 10.1038/543495a

Vibrations mapped by an electron beam p.497

The vibrational excitations of nanostructures have been mapped using state-of-the-art electron microscopy. The results improve our understanding of these excitations, which will aid the design of nanostructures. See Letter p.529

doi: 10.1038/543497a

A helping habitat for bumblebees p.498

A study showing the effects of land-use quality on the productivity of bumblebee colonies highlights the importance of resource availability across space and time in promoting survival over generations. See Letter p.547

doi: 10.1038/nature21897



Evidence for a Fe3+-rich pyrolitic lower mantle from (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite elasticity data p.543

The chemical composition of Earth’s lower mantle can be constrained by combining seismological observations with mineral physics elasticity measurements. However, the lack of laboratory data for Earth’s most abundant mineral, (Mg,Fe,Al)(Al,Fe,Si)O3 bridgmanite (also known as silicate perovskite), has hampered any conclusive result. Here we report single-crystal elasticity data on (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite (Mg0.9Fe0.1Si0.9Al0.1)O3 measured using high-pressure Brillouin spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Our measurements show that the elastic behaviour of (Al,Fe)-bearing bridgmanite is markedly different from the behaviour of the MgSiO3 endmember. We use our data to model seismic wave velocities in the top portion of the lower mantle, assuming a pyrolitic mantle composition and accounting for depth-dependent changes in iron partitioning between bridgmanite and ferropericlase. We find excellent agreement between our mineral physics predictions and the seismic Preliminary Reference Earth Model down to at least 1,200 kilometres depth, indicating chemical homogeneity of the upper and shallow lower mantle. A high Fe3+/Fe2+ ratio of about two in shallow-lower-mantle bridgmanite is required to match seismic data, implying the presence of metallic iron in an isochemical mantle. Our calculated velocities are in increasingly poor agreement with those of the lower mantle at depths greater than 1,200 kilometres, indicating either a change in bridgmanite cation ordering or a decrease in the ferric iron content of the lower mantle.

doi: 10.1038/nature21390

RNA m6A methylation regulates the ultraviolet-induced DNA damage response p.573

Cell proliferation and survival require the faithful maintenance and propagation of genetic information, which are threatened by the ubiquitous sources of DNA damage present intracellularly and in the external environment. A system of DNA repair, called the DNA damage response, detects and repairs damaged DNA and prevents cell division until the repair is complete. Here we report that methylation at the 6 position of adenosine (m6A) in RNA is rapidly (within 2 min) and transiently induced at DNA damage sites in response to ultraviolet irradiation. This modification occurs on numerous poly(A)+ transcripts and is regulated by the methyltransferase METTL3 (methyltransferase-like 3) and the demethylase FTO (fat mass and obesity-associated protein). In the absence of METTL3 catalytic activity, cells showed delayed repair of ultraviolet-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine adducts and elevated sensitivity to ultraviolet, demonstrating the importance of m6A in the ultraviolet-responsive DNA damage response. Multiple DNA polymerases are involved in the ultraviolet response, some of which resynthesize DNA after the lesion has been excised by the nucleotide excision repair pathway, while others participate in trans-lesion synthesis to allow replication past damaged lesions in S phase. DNA polymerase κ (Pol κ), which has been implicated in both nucleotide excision repair and trans-lesion synthesis, required the catalytic activity of METTL3 for immediate localization to ultraviolet-induced DNA damage sites. Importantly, Pol κ overexpression qualitatively suppressed the cyclobutane pyrimidine removal defect associated with METTL3 loss. Thus, we have uncovered a novel function for RNA m6A modification in the ultraviolet-induced DNA damage response, and our findings collectively support a model in which m6A RNA serves as a beacon for the selective, rapid recruitment of Pol κ to damage sites to facilitate repair and cell survival.

doi: 10.1038/nature21671