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From the editors

The effects of the global financial downturn have been far reaching, affecting many spheres of life. We asked research leaders and a representative of a key funding body to present their views on the impact of the economic crisis on neuroscience research. The resulting Viewpoint, on page 297, is insightful and interesting, highlighting both problems and some reasons for cautious optimism.

The remainder of this issue is devoted to three areas of neuroscience in which novel roles have emerged for molecules or pathways that have other, better-known functions.

Ubiquitylation was first characterized in the targeting of proteins to late endosomes for degradation, but is now recognized to have important roles in development. As discussed in the Review by Kawabe and Brose on page 251, ubiquitylation not only influences processes such as neurite extension and neuronal polarity, but also exerts epigenetic effects on the genes encoding key developmental proteins.

Notch signalling is best known for its integral contribution to development. As explored by Rakic and colleagues in this month's featured article on page 269, recent evidence suggests that Notch signalling also has roles in adult neurogenesis and differentiation, plasticity, ageing and the response to injury. The authors propose that crosstalk between Notch and other signalling pathways determines which function of Notch is implemented in a particular context.

Research now suggests that a host of lipids — not only cholesterol — might promote Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis, with reciprocal relationships potentially existing between amyloid-β and certain types of lipid molecules. Such relationships, and the therapeutic opportunities they present, are discussed in the Review by Di Paolo and Kim on page 284.

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From the editors. Nat Rev Neurosci 12, 243 (2011).

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