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  1. Open-door policies

    Nature research journals announce new reporting summaries to promote transparency, and our editors welcome early-career researchers to the Springer Nature office in New York to discuss careers in scientific publishing.
  2. Switching dynein motors on and off

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    Cytoplasmic dyneins transport cellular components from the periphery toward the center of the cell. By moving cargoes along microtubules, dyneins ensure proper cell division, regulate exchange of materials between organelles, and contribute to the internal organization of eukaryotic cells. Two recent studies show that, upon dimerization, cytoplasmic dyneins intrinsically adopt an autoinhibited configuration that can be relieved by other factors to precisely control motor activity and regulate dynein-based transport.
  3. Chromatin-enriched lncRNAs: a novel class of enhancer RNAs

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    Long noncoding (lnc)RNAs are postulated to control diverse biological processes by modulating transcription, yet for most lncRNAs evidence supporting this function has been lacking. A new report describes the role of a novel class of lncRNAs—chromatin-associated enhancer RNAs or cheRNAs—in the regulation of proximal gene expression.

    See also: Article by Michael S Werner et al.

  4. Human antibody pieces together the puzzle of the trimeric Lassa virus surface antigen

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    The envelope glycoprotein spike, the sole antigen on the Lassa virus (LASV) surface, constitutes the focal point of the host neutralizing immune response. A high-resolution structure of the trimeric LASV glycoprotein in an antibody-bound form illuminates the molecular architecture of the antigen and reveals the mode of action of the most abundant known class of Lassa-specific human neutralizing antibodies.
  5. Gathering by the Red Sea highlights links between environment and epigenetics

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    The number of conferences on epigenetics has been increasing in the past decade, underscoring the impact of the field on a variety of areas in biology and medicine. However, the mechanistic role of the epigenome in adaptation and inheritance, and how the environment may impinge on epigenetic control, are topics of growing debate. Those themes were the focus of the inaugural international King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Research Conference on Environmental Epigenetics in Saudi Arabia, where more than 100 participants from 19 countries enjoyed vibrant scientific discussions and a pleasant February breeze from the Red Sea.
  6. A glimpse into chromatin remodeling

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    Chromatin remodelers are ATP-driven enzymes that can slide nucleosomes along DNA. Chen and colleagues present a tantalizing ∼4-Å view of the SWI/SNF ATPase motor bound to the nucleosome, which offers novel structural clues into the remodeling process.
  7. Distinct mechanisms obviate the potentially toxic effects of inverted-repeat Alu elements on cellular RNA metabolism

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    Two new studies show that RNA-binding proteins can mediate distinct and beneficial effects to cells by binding to the extensive double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) structures of inverted-repeat Alu elements (IRAlus). One study reports stress-induced export of the 110-kDa isoform of the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 1 protein (ADAR1p110) to the cytoplasm, where it binds IRAlus so as to protect many mRNAs encoding anti-apoptotic proteins from degradation. The other study demonstrates that binding of the nuclear helicase DHX9 to IRAlus embedded within RNAs minimizes defects in RNA processing.

    See also: Article by Masayuki Sakurai et al.

  8. Frozen in action: cryo-EM structure of a GPCR–G-protein complex

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    Interaction with heterotrimeric G proteins is a hallmark of G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family members, and it is the key step for a diverse range of cell-signaling cascades. A recent cryo-EM structure of the human calcitonin receptor (CTR) in complex with a G-protein heterotrimer reveals novel insights into receptor–G-protein coupling.
  9. Carb cutting works better with a partner

    O-GlcNAc is a reversible post-translational modification that is added by O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) and removed by O-GlcNAcase (OGA). OGA is emerging as a therapeutic target for multiple diseases, but its structure has been elusive until now.
  10. Splicing of Ezh1 gets muscle out of stressful situations

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    As cells undergo terminal differentiation, the composition of Polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2) changes and the histone H3K27 methyltransferase Ezh2 is progressively replaced by its homolog Ezh1. By identifying an enzymatically inactive splice variant of Ezh1 that is sensitive to cellular stress, Bodega et al. now demonstrate that PRC2–Ezh1 has an essential role in establishing an altered gene expression program required for postmitotic muscle cells to adapt to environmental changes.

    See also: Article by Beatrice Bodega et al.

  11. Remodelers tap into nucleosome plasticity

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    Chromatin-remodeling enzymes perform the formidable task of reorganizing the structure of a stable macromolecular assembly, the nucleosome. Recently published work demonstrates that the SNF2H chromatin remodeler distorts the histone octamer structure upon binding to the nucleosome, then taps into this induced plasticity to productively achieve nucleosome sliding.
  12. Surveillance states

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    The binding of foreign peptides to host major histocompatibility complex (MHC) forms the basis of adaptive immune recognition. The MHC and T cell receptors (TCRs) use diverse structural solutions to enhance peptide presentation and recognition, and two new reports provide insights into noncanonical modes of detection and binding.

    See also: Article by Phillip Pymm et al., Article by InYoung Song et al.

  13. Unearthing worm replication origins

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    Unlike in animals in which gastrulation marks the onset of zygotic transcription and a transition from random to site-specific localization of replication origins, transcription and origin specification in Caenorhabditis elegans are in place before gastrulation. Nonetheless, origin-site redistribution takes place after gastrulation, and is coordinated with changes in the sites of active transcription.

    See also: Article by Marta Rodríguez-Martínez et al.

  14. Mechanisms for targeted, purposeful mutation revealed in an APOBEC–DNA complex

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    Targeted deamination of cytosine bases in DNA by AID/APOBEC-family enzymes is critical for proper immune function, but it also poses risks to genomic integrity. New structures reported by Harris, Aihara and colleagues offer the first glimpses into the enzyme–DNA complex and reveal both expected and unexpected insights into the DNA-binding mode involved in targeting purposeful mutation.

    See also: Article by Ke Shi et al.

  15. The diverse roles of Hsp90 and where to find them

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    The Eighth International Conference on the Hsp90 Chaperone Machine took place in November 2016 at the Seeon Abbey in Germany. This year's program focused on a variety of topics, reflecting Hsp90's diverse roles in cellular and physiological function. The highlights included structural insights into the Hsp90 folding mechanism and conformational dynamics, post-translational modifications, client protein maturation, Hsp90 cochaperone function and Hsp90's role in disease physiology.
  16. CFTR structure: lassoing cystic fibrosis

    Loss of function of the CFTR anion channel leads to cystic fibrosis, the most common inherited condition in humans of European origin. A recently reported structure for CFTR at 3.7-Å resolution reveals an unexpected 'lasso' domain and provides new insights into channel function in healthy individuals and in people with cystic fibrosis.
  17. Functional RNA classes: a matter of time?

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    Little is known about the functions of long noncoding RNAs compared with the amount of accumulated knowledge concerning protein-mediated mechanisms. A report now proposes a novel RNA classification based on similar kinetics of RNA synthesis, processing and turnover, and the authors predict that RNAs within each class might share functional properties.

    See also: Resource by Neelanjan Mukherjee et al.

  18. New pieces to an old puzzle: identifying the warfarin-binding site that prevents clotting

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    Warfarin has been the most widely prescribed anticoagulant for decades. It functions by inhibiting the membrane enzyme vitamin K epoxide reductase (VKOR), but the molecular details of this effect have remained elusive. Two new studies shed light on the warfarin-VKOR interaction. The work has implications for precision medicine and could guide drug discovery.

    See also: Article by Guomin Shen et al., Article by Katrin J Czogalla et al.