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Trust, but verify p315

Collaborations between researchers and industry are essential to biomedical progress. But relations have to be completely open.


Taking the NICE path p315

The United States can learn from the UK body that rates the effectiveness of medical procedures.


SETI at 50 p316

Despite the long odds against success, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has come a long way.



Research Highlights

Cancer biology: Now you see it p318


Technology: Lightning-fast memory p318


Genetics: Yeast joins the club at last p318


Chemistry: Aluminium arches p318


Acoustic science: A sonic one-way street p318


Atmospheric science: Alien sprites p318


Biology: Turning tail p319


Microbiology: Sussing Shewanella p319


Materials science: Hard-headed theories p319


Neurobiology: Teamwork rewarded p319



Journal Club

Journal club p319

Rusty Feagin




News briefing: 17 September 2009 p320


Vaccine venture boosts health hopes p323

Industry and academia join forces to develop cheap jabs against diseases that afflict the poorest.

Declan Butler


Ear to the Universe starts listening p324

US radio array starts its search for extraterrestrial life.

Eric Hand


Ghosts still present in the medical machine p325

Unattributed authors remain an issue for journals.

Nicola Jones


Q&A: Choon Fong Shih p326

The first president of Saudia Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology talks.

Daniel Cressey


RIKEN scientist arrested p327

Japanese researcher allegedly misused institutional funds.

David Cyranoski


Wonder weed plans fail to flourish p328

The first of four weekly articles on biofuels looks at how investment in jatropha is slowing, as investors realize that basic research is needed.

Katharine Sanderson



News Features

Money in biomedicine: The senator's sleuth p330

Paul Thacker, a reporter-turned-Congressional-investigator, has disrupted the careers of several top researchers with lucrative industry ties. Meredith Wadman tracks his effect on US science.

Meredith Wadman


Health economics: Life in the balance p336

How do researchers and policy-makers decide on the value of health? Daniel Cressey looks at Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Daniel Cressey




Non-lethal weapons and the civilian death toll in war time p340

Michael L. Gross


Don't overlook the rigorously reviewed novel work in patents p340

Donald F. Weaver & Christopher Barden


Keeping track of the Earth's carbon-cycle components p340

José Achache


Were crocodiles responsible for the stones we call tools? p341

Patrick Dempsey


Ethical concerns over use of new cloning technique in humans p341

Hans-Werner Denker


The need for a fresh symbol to designate copernicium p341

Juris Meija




Plan B for Copenhagen p342

In 11 days the curtain will rise in Bangkok for the penultimate round of negotiations before the climate change conference in Copenhagen. David Victor warns of the dangers of a rushed, stapled-together deal.

David Victor


An alien concept p345

Fifty years ago this week, a Nature paper legitimized the idea that there could be civilizations elsewhere, able to communicate and wanting to contact us. Fred Kaplan reflects on its origins, impacts and legacy.

Fred Kaplan


Ocean fertilization: time to move on p347

Adding iron to the ocean is not an effective way to fight climate change, and we don't need further research to establish that, say Aaron Strong, Sallie Chisholm, Charles Miller and John Cullen.

Aaron Strong, Sallie Chisholm, Charles Miller & John Cullen



Books and Arts

On the origin of technology p349

An overdue theory of how machines and tools evolve downplays human creativity, argues Jon Agar.

Jon Agar reviews The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves by W. Brian Arthur


Sound for the masses p350

Peter Border reviews Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner


Q&A: The inventor with an ear for the past p351

Engineer Duncan Miller has spent decades reviving the lost art of acoustic recording to wax cylinders, a technique pioneered by Thomas Edison. Nature finds out how his Vulcan Cylinder Record Company, based in Sheffield, UK, has combined sleuthing and modern chemistry to craft a new repertoire for the hand-cranked phonograph.

Jascha Hoffman



News and Views

Atmospheric chemistry: Thwarting the seeds of clouds p353

Atmospheric oxidation of hydrocarbons emitted from plants leads to the formation of aerosol particles that affect cloud properties. Contrary to what was thought, this process might add to global warming.

Paul J. Ziemann


See also: Editor's summary

Developmental biology: Asexual healing p354

The development of healthy monkeys from embryos in which the egg contains nuclear DNA from one donor and mitochondrial DNA from another suggests a method to prevent inheritance of certain human diseases.

Eric A. Shoubridge


See also: Editor's summary

50 & 100 years ago p355


Fluid dynamics: To merge or not to merge ... p356

... that is the dilemma addressed in a study of oppositely charged liquid drops controlled by an electric field. Contrary to conventional wisdom, beyond a critical charge, the drops fail to merge.

Frieder Mugele


See also: Editor's summary

Genomics: Hepatitis C virus gets personal p357

Many people infected with the hepatitis C virus are not cured despite gruelling therapy. A human genetic variant that predicts successful treatment has been identified. So is personalized therapy now a possibility?

Shawn P. Iadonato & Michael G. Katze


See also: Editor's summary

Biological chemistry: Beyond radical thinking p358

Radiation-induced DNA damage has been attributed to hydroxyl radicals, which form when water absorbs high-energy photons or charged particles. But another product of water's radiolysis might be the real culprit.

Léon Sanche


Epigenetics: Ready for the marks p359

Genomic imprinting, in which genes are expressed from either the maternal or paternal genome, involves the addition of methyl marks to DNA. Paradoxically, demethylation of histone proteins is an essential first step.

Robert Feil


See also: Editor's summary

Microbiology: Showering with bacteria p360

Shannon Amoils



Brief Communications Arising

VEGFR1-activity-independent metastasis formation pE4

Michelle R. Dawson, Dan G. Duda, Dai Fukumura & Rakesh K. Jain


Kaplan et al. reply pE5

Rosandra N. Kaplan, Rebecca D. Riba, Stergios Zacharoulis, Anna H. Bramley, Loïc Vincent, Carla Costa, Daniel D. MacDonald, David K. Jin, Koji Shido, Scott A. Kerns, Zhenping Zhu, Daniel Hicklin, Yan Wu, Jeffrey L. Port, Nasser Altorki, Elisa R. Port, Davide Ruggero, Sergey V. Shmelkov, Kristian K. Jensen, Shahin Rafii, David Lyden & J. Wels




The structural basis of tail-anchored membrane protein recognition by Get3 p361

Nearly 5% of membrane proteins are 'tail-anchored' to the endoplasmic reticulum by a single carboxy-terminal transmembrane domain. These tail-anchored proteins are targeted post-translationally by the ATPase Get3, but the mechanism of recognition and targeting by Get3 is not known. Here, the crystal structures of yeast Get3 in a nucleotide-free 'open' state and a nucleotide-bound 'closed' state are presented.

Agnieszka Mateja, Anna Szlachcic, Maureen E. Downing, Malgorzata Dobosz, Malaiyalam Mariappan, Ramanujan S. Hegde & Robert J. Keenan


See also: Editor's summary

Mitochondrial gene replacement in primate offspring and embryonic stem cells p367

The mitochondrial genome is of maternal origin and mutations in mitochondrial DNA are the cause of many human diseases. The efficient replacement of the mitochondrial genome in mature non-human primate oocytes is now demonstrated. This approach may offer a reproductive option to prevent the transmission of diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA in affected families.

Masahito Tachibana, Michelle Sparman, Hathaitip Sritanaudomchai, Hong Ma, Lisa Clepper, Joy Woodward, Ying Li, Cathy Ramsey, Olena Kolotushkina & Shoukhrat Mitalipov


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Shoubridge



Misaligned spin and orbital axes cause the anomalous precession of DI Herculis p373

For most binary stars, the theoretical and observed precession rates are in agreement, but the observed precession rate for the DI Herculis system is a factor of four slower than the theoretical rate, a disagreement that once was interpreted as evidence for a failure of general relativity. Here, both stars of DI Herculis are reported to rotate with their spin axes nearly perpendicular to the orbital axis, an observation that leads to the reconciliation of the theoretical and observed precession rates.

Simon Albrecht, Sabine Reffert, Ignas A. G. Snellen & Joshua N. Winn


See also: Editor's summary

Non-coalescence of oppositely charged drops p377

Adjacent drops of fluid coalesce, and oppositely charged drops have long been assumed to experience an attractive force that favours their coalescence. However, here it is observed that oppositely charged drops moving towards each other in a strong electric field do not coalesce when the field strength exceeds a certain value but rather 'bounce' off one another. This observation calls for a re-evaluation of our understanding of processes such as storm cloud formation and ink-jet printing, which involve electrically induced droplet motion.

W. D. Ristenpart, J. C. Bird, A. Belmonte, F. Dollar & H. A. Stone


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Mugele

New particle formation in forests inhibited by isoprene emissions p381

Volatile organic compounds, such as isoprene and monoterpenes, are emitted by terrestrial vegetation and have been suggested to be involved in organic aerosol formation, which in turn affects radiative forcing and climate. Simulation experiments conducted in a plant chamber now reveal that isoprene can significantly inhibit new particle formation; this may explain the observed seasonality in the frequency of aerosol nucleation events.

Astrid Kiendler-Scharr, Jürgen Wildt, Miikka Dal Maso, Thorsten Hohaus, Einhard Kleist, Thomas F. Mentel, Ralf Tillmann, Ricarda Uerlings, Uli Schurr & Andreas Wahner


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Ziemann

Holocene thinning of the Greenland ice sheet p385

The response of the Greenland ice sheet (GIS) to changes in climate remains uncertain. During the Holocene climatic optimum — an unusually warm period from about 9,000 to 6,000 years ago — changes in Greenland appear inconsistent with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Here, the Greenland Holocene temperature history and the evolution of GIS surface elevation are extracted from four GIS locations; the results may resolve this disparity.

B. M. Vinther, S. L. Buchardt, H. B. Clausen, D. Dahl-Jensen, S. J. Johnsen, D. A. Fisher, R. M. Koerner, D. Raynaud, V. Lipenkov, K. K. Andersen, T. Blunier, S. O. Rasmussen, J. P. Steffensen & A. M. Svensson


See also: Editor's summary

Genotypic sex determination enabled adaptive radiations of extinct marine reptiles p389

Adaptive radiations often follow the evolution of key traits. The mechanism by which a species determines the sex of its offspring has been linked to critical ecological and life-history traits but not to major adaptive radiations. A coevolutionary relationship is now established in 94 amniote species between the sex-determining mechanism and whether a species bears live young or lays eggs. This is used to predict the evolution of genotypic sex determination before the acquisition of live birth in three extinct marine reptiles.

Chris L. Organ, Daniel E. Janes, Andrew Meade & Mark Pagel


See also: Editor's summary

Genome sequence and analysis of the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans p393

Phytophthora infestans is a fungus-like eukaryote and the most destructive pathogen of potato, with current annual worldwide potato crop losses due to late blight estimated at $6.7 billion. Here, the sequence of the P. infestans genome is reported. Comparison with two other Phytophthora genomes showed rapid turnover and extensive expansion of certain secreted disease effector proteins, probably explaining the rapid adaptability of the pathogen to host plants.

Brian J. Haas, Sophien Kamoun, Michael C. Zody, Rays H. Y. Jiang, Robert E. Handsaker, Liliana M. Cano, Manfred Grabherr, Chinnappa D. Kodira, Sylvain Raffaele, Trudy Torto-Alalibo, Tolga O. Bozkurt, Audrey M. V. Ah-Fong, Lucia Alvarado, Vicky L. Anderson, Miles R. Armstrong, Anna Avrova, Laura Baxter, Jim Beynon, Petra C. Boevink, Stephanie R. Bollmann, Jorunn I. B. Bos, Vincent Bulone, Guohong Cai, Cahid Cakir, James C. Carrington, Megan Chawner, Lucio Conti, Stefano Costanzo, Richard Ewan, Noah Fahlgren, Michael A. Fischbach, Johanna Fugelstad, Eleanor M. Gilroy, Sante Gnerre, Pamela J. Green, Laura J. Grenville-Briggs, John Griffith, Niklaus J. Grünwald, Karolyn Horn, Neil R. Horner, Chia-Hui Hu, Edgar Huitema, Dong-Hoon Jeong, Alexandra M. E. Jones, Jonathan D. G. Jones, Richard W. Jones, Elinor K. Karlsson, Sridhara G. Kunjeti, Kurt Lamour, Zhenyu Liu, LiJun Ma, Daniel MacLean, Marcus C. Chibucos, Hayes McDonald, Jessica McWalters, Harold J. G. Meijer, William Morgan, Paul F. Morris, Carol A. Munro, Keith O'Neill, Manuel Ospina-Giraldo, Andrés Pinzón, Leighton Pritchard, Bernard Ramsahoye, Qinghu Ren, Silvia Restrepo, Sourav Roy, Ari Sadanandom, Alon Savidor, Sebastian Schornack, David C. Schwartz, Ulrike D. Schumann, Ben Schwessinger, Lauren Seyer, Ted Sharpe, Cristina Silvar, Jing Song, David J. Studholme, Sean Sykes, Marco Thines, Peter J. I. van de Vondervoort, Vipaporn Phuntumart, Stephan Wawra, Rob Weide, Joe Win, Carolyn Young, Shiguo Zhou, William Fry, Blake C. Meyers, Pieter van West, Jean Ristaino, Francine Govers, Paul R. J. Birch, Stephen C. Whisson, Howard S. Judelson & Chad Nusbaum


See also: Editor's summary

Genetic variation in IL28B predicts hepatitis C treatment-induced viral clearance p399

170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is the leading cause of cirrhosis in North America. Many patients are not cured by the current recommended treatment regime, with patients of European ancestry having a higher probability of being cured than those of African ancestry. Here, a genetic polymorphism near the IL28B gene is found to be associated with a better response to treatment; it occurs with higher frequency in European populations.

Dongliang Ge, Jacques Fellay, Alexander J. Thompson, Jason S. Simon, Kevin V. Shianna, Thomas J. Urban, Erin L. Heinzen, Ping Qiu, Arthur H. Bertelsen, Andrew J. Muir, Mark Sulkowski, John G. McHutchison & David B. Goldstein


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Iadonato & Katze

Modelling pathogenesis and treatment of familial dysautonomia using patient-specific iPSCs p402

The derivation and differentiation of disease-specific human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) offers a new strategy for modelling disease. Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a rare but fatal peripheral neuropathy caused by a mutation in the IKBKAP gene. Here, patient-specific FD-iPSCs are derived and differentiated into cells of all three germ layers, including peripheral neurons; the cells are then analysed for mechanism of disease specificity and response to candidate drugs.

Gabsang Lee, Eirini P. Papapetrou, Hyesoo Kim, Stuart M. Chambers, Mark J. Tomishima, Christopher A. Fasano, Yosif M. Ganat, Jayanthi Menon, Fumiko Shimizu, Agnes Viale, Viviane Tabar, Michel Sadelain & Lorenz Studer


See also: Editor's summary

Optogenetic dissection of a behavioural module in the vertebrate spinal cord p407

In vertebrates, the excitatory synaptic drive for inducing spinal central pattern generators (CPGs) — which are responsible for generating rhythmic movements — can originate from either supraspinal glutamatergic inputs or from within the spinal cord. A spinal input to the CPG is now identified using a combination of intersectional gene expression and optogenetics in zebrafish larvae; the results reveal that during early development Kolmer–Agduhr cells provide a positive drive to the spinal CPG for spontaneous locomotion.

Claire Wyart, Filippo Del Bene, Erica Warp, Ethan K. Scott, Dirk Trauner, Herwig Baier & Ehud Y. Isacoff


See also: Editor's summary

Response and resistance to MEK inhibition in leukaemias initiated by hyperactive Ras p411

In human cancers with deregulated Ras signalling, including tumours that have inactivated the Nf1 tumour suppressor, the cascade comprising Raf, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is a therapeutic target. Here, in mice, the effects of inhibitors of MEK in a model of myeloproliferative disorder initiated by inactivating Nf1 and in a model of acute myeloid leukaemia are compared.

Jennifer O. Lauchle, Doris Kim, Doan T. Le, Keiko Akagi, Michael Crone, Kimberly Krisman, Kegan Warner, Jeannette M. Bonifas, Qing Li, Kristen M. Coakley, Ernesto Diaz-Flores, Matthew Gorman, Sally Przybranowski, Mary Tran, Scott C. Kogan, Jeroen P. Roose, Neal G. Copeland, Nancy A. Jenkins, Luis Parada, Linda Wolff, Judith Sebolt-Leopold & Kevin Shannon


See also: Editor's summary

KDM1B is a histone H3K4 demethylase required to establish maternal genomic imprints p415

In mammals, the parental origin-specific expression of imprinted genes is known to be regulated by differential DNA methylation of paternal and maternal alleles, but it is unclear how particular imprinted loci are selected for de novo DNA methylation during gametogenesis. Here it is shown that AOF1, or KDM1B under new nomenclature, functions as a histone H3 lysine 4 demethylase and is required for de novo DNA methylation of some imprinted genes in oocytes.

David N. Ciccone, Hui Su, Sarah Hevi, Frédérique Gay, Hong Lei, Jeffrey Bajko, Guoliang Xu, En Li & Taiping Chen


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Feil

Histone H2A.Z cooperates with RNAi and heterochromatin factors to suppress antisense RNAs p419

Unregulated transcription of noncoding and antisense RNAs is potentially deleterious to a cell and the accumulation of these transcripts is suppressed by several mechanisms. How cells differentiate coding RNAs from transcripts targeted for degradation is not clear. The variant histone H2A.Z, in cooperation with heterochromatin and RNAi factors, is now found to mediate suppression of antisense transcripts in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

Martin Zofall, Tamás Fischer, Ke Zhang, Ming Zhou, Bowen Cui, Timothy D. Veenstra & Shiv I. S. Grewal


See also: Editor's summary

Bursts of retrotransposition reproduced in Arabidopsis p423

A major portion of plant genomes is made up of retrotransposons, which proliferate by reverse transcription of RNA intermediates. The methylation of DNA prevents transcription, and is a means by which retrotransposon movement is suppressed. The study of transposon dynamics in Arabidopsis thaliana now reveals bursts of retrotransposition when DNA methylation is disturbed.

Sayuri Tsukahara, Akie Kobayashi, Akira Kawabe, Olivier Mathieu, Asuka Miura & Tetsuji Kakutani


See also: Editor's summary

Selective epigenetic control of retrotransposition in Arabidopsis p427

In plants and mammals, retrotransposons are transcriptionally silenced by DNA methylation, but activating transcription by mutating a gene involved in DNA methylation does not activate retrotransposition. Here it is shown that, after transcriptional reactivation, transposition remains suppressed due to the activity of a plant-specific RNA polymerase and a histone methyltransferase. This mechanism appears to be specific for a particular retrotransposon known as Évadé.

Marie Mirouze, Jon Reinders, Etienne Bucher, Taisuke Nishimura, Korbinian Schneeberger, Stephan Ossowski, Jun Cao, Detlef Weigel, Jerzy Paszkowski & Olivier Mathieu


See also: Editor's summary



Careers Q&A

Rudi Balling p433

First director of the Centre for Systems Biology in Luxembourg.

Flora Roenneberg


Postdoc journal

Am I still a postdoc or not? p433

I'm learning that my career doesn't define me; I define my career.

Joanne Isaac


In Brief

How to talk to a politician p433

An aid in the quest for research funding.


No ethics, no grant p433

Ethics training is a new must for all National Science Foundation grant recipients.


Lucrative industry links p433

Faculty members say industry research has contributed to important work.


Careers and Recruitment

Back to the beginning p434

Some think Osaka can once again be a centre for the biosciences industry. David Cyranoski calculates the odds.

David Cyranoski




Answers from the event horizon p438

The secrets of the Universe.

Mercurio D. Rivera


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