Volume 549 Issue 7672



News Features

News & Views

A molecular assembler p.336

The idea of nanometre-scale machines that can assemble molecules has long been thought of as the stuff of science fiction. Such a machine has now been built — and might herald a new model for organic synthesis. See Letter p.374

doi: 10.1038/549336a

Red alert about lipid's role in skin cancer p.337

Some versions of the MC1R protein are associated with red hair and an increased risk of developing a skin cancer called melanoma. It emerges that a lipid that binds MC1R might provide a target to reduce this risk. See Letter p.399

doi: 10.1038/nature23550

Long-lived electrodes for plastic batteries p.339

Organic materials are potential substitutes for the costly transition-metal oxides used in battery electrodes, but their stability is often poor. A polymer design that uses intermolecular interactions solves this problem.

doi: 10.1038/549339a

From embryo mutation to adult degeneration p.340

Mutations in embryonic blood-cell precursors called erythro-myeloid progenitors cause abnormal activation of their descendants — immune cells called microglia — leading to neurodegeneration in mice. See Letter p.389

doi: 10.1038/nature23547

No more tears for metal 3D printing p.342

3D printing could revolutionize manufacturing processes involving metals, but few industrially useful alloys are compatible with the technique. A method has been developed that might open up the 3D printing of all metals. See Letter p.365

doi: 10.1038/549342a

The persistence of memory p.343

Live imaging reveals that whether or not a daughter cell proliferates is influenced by two molecular factors inherited from its mother, providing insight into how the behaviour of a newly born cell can be predetermined. See Letter p.404

doi: 10.1038/nature23549



A binary main-belt comet p.357

Analysis based on high-resolution observations from the Hubble Space Telescope shows that the asteroid 288P is a binary main-belt comet, with properties unlike any known binary asteroid.

doi: 10.1038/nature23892

3D printing of high-strength aluminium alloys p.365

Zirconium nanoparticles introduced into aluminium alloy powders control solidification during 3D printing, enabling the production of crack-free materials with strengths comparable to the corresponding wrought material.

doi: 10.1038/nature23894

The Apostasia genome and the evolution of orchids OPEN p.379

Comparing the whole genome sequence of Apostasia shenzhenica with transcriptome and genome data from five orchid subfamilies permits the reconstruction of an ancestral gene toolkit, providing insight into orchid origins, evolution and diversification.

doi: 10.1038/nature23897

Alternative evolutionary histories in the sequence space of an ancient protein p.409

Combining ancestral protein reconstruction with deep mutational scanning to characterize alternative histories in the sequence space around an ancient transcription factor reveals hundreds of alternative protein sequences that use diverse biochemical mechanisms to perform the derived function at least as well as the historical outcome.

doi: 10.1038/nature23902