Table of contents

indicates content that is available online only



Unjust burdens of proof p751

English libel law adversely affects every publisher and website host whose content can be read in the United Kingdom. It must be changed.


Watch your back p751

The H1N1 flu epidemic is not the world's only disease threat.


The sharing principle p752

Journals and funders must insist that genetically modified mouse strains are fully available.



Research Highlights

Evolution: Tickle tree p754


Astronomy: What's handed down p754


Ecology: Evidence of emperors p754


Planetary science: Pressure drop p754


Oceanography: Glowing oceans p754


Neurogenetics: Huntington's toxic trigger p754


Ecology: Biomes bounce back p755


High-energy physics: Muonium gets real p755


Planetary science: Mercurial Mercury p755


Cancer biology: Tumour clue p755



Journal Club

Journal club p755

Gail Christeson




Avian influenza aided readiness for swine flu p756

Despite gains from threat of bird flu, pandemic preparedness is patchy.

Erika Check Hayden


UK science shuffled again p757

Business department expands its remit as government department is scrapped.

Richard Van Noorden


Moon mission tackles water question p758

NASA orbiter will hunt for water ice that could be used as a resource by future astronauts.

Eric Hand


Last weather ship faces closure p759

Oceanographers rally to try to save Norwegian vessel.

Quirin Schiermeier


Quantum dots go large p760

A small industry could be on the verge of a boom, reports Katharine Sanderson.

Katharine Sanderson


Grant applications swamp agency p763

Peer-review system for National Institutes of Health grants is stretched to its limits.

Meredith Wadman


Sweden finally picks nuclear-waste burial site p764


German science secures historic windfall p764


Rotavirus vaccines win global recommendation p764


Californian universities hit by state's budget woes p764


Legal accord eases path to Europe's research facilities p764


Submersible plumbs the depths p764



News Features

Media research: The black box p765

Assessing the effects of television on young children is far from easy. But, as researchers tell Jim Schnabel, that is no reason not to try.


Geomicrobiology: Low life p770

The boundaries of biology reach farther below Earth's surface than scientists had thought possible. Amanda Leigh Mascarelli delves into how microbes survive deep underground.




Gene data for endangered species have limitations p774

Michael Hofreiter


How science upholds civilization, human rights and democracy p774

Dick Taverne


Stick as well as carrot needed to solve age-old gender bias p774

Colleen E. Crangle




The future of saving our past p775

As letters and diaries give way to e-mails and laptops, fresh challenges and opportunities have emerged for archivists. Jeremy Leighton John explores the digital wilderness for the British Library.

Jeremy Leighton John



Books and Arts

Looking for planets like ours p777

The hunt for habitable worlds near other stars brings home the realization that our own Solar System might not be as special as we think, says Michael Brown.

Michael Brown


Charting the heavens from China p778

Jane Qiu reviews The Dunhuang Star Chart


Superstition challenged p779

Philip Ball reviews Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies


The technology of illusion p780

Jascha Hoffman reviews Interactivos? Lima '09: Magic and Technology



News and Views

Planetary science: The Solar System's extended shelf life p781

Simulations show that orbital chaos can lead to collisions between Earth and the inner planets. But Einstein's tweaks to Newton's theory of gravity render these ruinous outcomes unlikely in the next few billion years.

Gregory Laughlin


See also: Editor's summary

Cell cycle: Cell division brought down to size p782

Cells normally divide on reaching a fairly specific size, but how cell size dictates the timing of cell division remains obscure. In fission yeast, a spatial gradient of a cell-tip protein may provide an answer.

Kenneth E. Sawin


See also: Editor's summary

Ecology: Traits of plant invaders p783

Many plants introduced to new habitats have fewer microbial pathogens than when in their home range, and have the ability to grow rapidly. Such a combination may make for especially troublesome immigrants.

Tim Seastedt


Immunology: Immunity's ancient arms p784

Diverse receptors on two types of cell mediate adaptive immunity in jawed vertebrates. In the lamprey, a jawless vertebrate, immunity is likewise compartmentalized but the molecular mechanics are very different.

Gary W. Litman & John P. Cannon


See also: Editor's summary

50 & 100 years ago p785


Organic chemistry: Synthetic lessons from nature p786

Most syntheses in organic chemistry target one molecule, or a few closely related analogues at most. But by taking a leaf from nature's book, the latest synthetic strategy opens the door to a whole family of compounds.

Huw M. L. Davies


See also: Editor's summary

Cell biology: The proteasome assembly line p787

The assembly of the proteasome — the cellular machine that eliminates unwanted proteins — is a carefully choreographed affair, involving a complex sequence of steps overseen by dedicated protein chaperones.

Kiran Madura


See also: Editor's summary



Solar eclipses as an astrophysical laboratory p789

Observations of the Sun during total eclipses have led to major discoveries. A new generation of ground-based eclipse observations reaches spatial, temporal and spectral-resolution domains that are inaccessible from space.

Jay M. Pasachoff


See also: Editor's summary


Brief Communications Arising

Early Cambrian ocean anoxia in South China pE5

Shao-Yong Jiang, Dao-Hui Pi, Christoph Heubeck, Hartwig Frimmel, Yu-Ping Liu, Hai-Lin Deng, Hong-Fei Ling & Jing-Hong Yang


Wille et al. reply pE6

Martin Wille, Thomas F. Nägler, Bernd Lehmann, Stefan Schröder & Jan D. Kramers




Dual nature of the adaptive immune system in lampreys p796

Variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs) are used for antigen recognition in jawless vertebrates. Distinctive gene expression profiles for VLRA+ and VLRB+ lymphocytes in lampreys are now shown to resemble those of mammalian T and B cells, offering insight into the evolution of adaptive immunity.

Peng Guo, Masayuki Hirano, Brantley R. Herrin, Jianxu Li, Cuiling Yu, Andrea Sadlonova & Max D. Cooper


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Litman & Cannon

Histone H4 lysine 16 acetylation regulates cellular lifespan p802

Yeast Sir2 deacetylates histone H4 lysine 16 and is known to have a role in ageing, but the exact mechanism is not known. Here, an age-associated decrease in Sir2 abundance is shown to be accompanied by an increase in H4 lysine 16 acetylation and loss of histones in replicatively old yeast cells, resulting in compromised transcriptional silencing.

Weiwei Dang, Kristan K. Steffen, Rocco Perry, Jean A. Dorsey, F. Brad Johnson, Ali Shilatifard, Matt Kaeberlein, Brian K. Kennedy & Shelley L. Berger


See also: Editor's summary

Flipping of alkylated DNA damage bridges base and nucleotide excision repair p808

A class of enzymes known as alkyltransferase-like proteins (ATLs) can protect against alkylation damage to DNA. To gain insight into how this occurs, the structure of a yeast ATL has been solved in the presence and absence of damaged DNA, revealing that ATL flips the alkylated base out of the DNA helix, leaving the lesion to be acted on by proteins of the nucleotide excision repair pathway.

Julie L. Tubbs, Vitaly Latypov, Sreenivas Kanugula, Amna Butt, Manana Melikishvili, Rolf Kraehenbuehl, Oliver Fleck, Andrew Marriott, Amanda J. Watson, Barbara Verbeek, Gail McGown, Mary Thorncroft, Mauro F. Santibanez-Koref, Christopher Millington, Andrew S. Arvai, Matthew D. Kroeger, Lisa A. Peterson, David M. Williams, Michael G. Fried, Geoffrey P. Margison, Anthony E. Pegg & John A. Tainer


See also: Editor's summary



Earth's transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations p814

Of the 342 planets so far discovered orbiting other stars, 58 'transit' the stellar disk; the light from the star passes through the atmosphere of the planet, and in a few cases the basic atmospheric composition of the planet can be estimated. The transmission spectrum of our planet, obtained during a lunar eclipse, is now reported, with implications for the search to find analogues of Earth.

Enric Pallé, María Rosa Zapatero Osorio, Rafael Barrena, Pilar Montañés-Rodríguez & Eduardo L. Martín


See also: Editor's summary

Existence of collisional trajectories of Mercury, Mars and Venus with the Earth p817

Here, numerical simulations of the evolution of the Solar System over 5 Gyr, including contributions from the Moon and general relativity, show that one per cent of solutions lead to a large increase in Mercury's eccentricity—large enough to allow collisions with Venus or the Sun. In one of these high eccentricity solutions, a subsequent decrease of Mercury's eccentricity leads to a destabilization of all the terrestrial planets about 3.34 Gyr from now, with possible collisions of Mercury, Mars or Venus with the Earth.

J. Laskar & M. Gastineau


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

Direct observation of a widely tunable bandgap in bilayer graphene p820

The ability to electrically control the bandgap, a fundamental property of semiconductors and insulators that determines electrical and optical response, is highly desirable for device design and functionality. Experiments now demonstrate versatile control of the bandgap in bilayer graphene-based devices by use of electric fields.

Yuanbo Zhang, Tsung-Ta Tang, Caglar Girit, Zhao Hao, Michael C. Martin, Alex Zettl, Michael F. Crommie, Y. Ron Shen & Feng Wang


See also: Editor's summary

Total synthesis of eudesmane terpenes by site-selective C–H oxidations p824

Although organic chemists often devise synthetic routes for molecules by mimicking enzyme reactions, such syntheses generally target individual compounds; here, a strategy is reported that targets a whole family of compounds. The approach mimics the biosynthesis of terpenes to efficiently prepare five compounds from the eudesmane family of terpenes, and provides a framework for the synthesis of other such compounds.

Ke Chen & Phil S. Baran


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

The proportionality of global warming to cumulative carbon emissions p829

Climate sensitivity models may inaccurately characterize the full Earth system response, as they ignore changes in the carbon cycle, aerosols, land use and land cover. A combination of a simplified climate model, a range of simulations from a recent model intercomparison and historical constraints now show that, independent of the timing of emissions or the atmospheric concentration of CO2, emitting a trillion tonnes of carbon will cause global warming of 1.0 to 2.1 degrees Celsius.

H. Damon Matthews, Nathan P. Gillett, Peter A. Stott & Kirsten Zickfeld


See also: Editor's summary

Slow earthquakes triggered by typhoons p833

Large earthquakes have been observed to trigger other earthquakes as teleseismic waves pass by the region, and microearthquake activity has been shown to be modulated by seasonal atmospheric pressure variations. It is now shown that, in eastern Taiwan, slow earthquakes can be triggered by typhoons; lower pressure from the passing of the typhoon is thought to result in a small unclamping of the fault.

ChiChing Liu, Alan T. Linde & I. Selwyn Sacks


See also: Editor's summary

Two types of dopamine neuron distinctly convey positive and negative motivational signals p837

The observation that midbrain dopamine neurons are activated by reward, or sensory stimuli predicting reward, has led to the hypothesis that they encode value-related signals and are inhibited by aversive events. This is now shown to be true for only a subset of dopamine neurons; by recording neuronal activity in monkeys, dopamine neurons are found to be more heterogeneous than this model would suggest.

Masayuki Matsumoto & Okihide Hikosaka


See also: Editor's summary

Specificity of sensory–motor connections encoded by Sema3e–Plxnd1 recognition p842

Reflex circuits are specifically formed between sensory and motor neurons based on the class of sensory cell and the muscle type innervated by the motor neuron. Here, this fine synaptic specificity is found to be mediated by selective expression of the class 3 semaphorin Sema3e and its high-affinity receptor plexin D1 (Plxnd1) by specific motor and sensory neuron populations, respectively.

Eline Pecho-Vrieseling, Markus Sigrist, Yutaka Yoshida, Thomas M. Jessell & Silvia Arber


See also: Editor's summary

Haematopoietic malignancies caused by dysregulation of a chromatin-binding PHD finger p847

A chromosomal translocation found in certain acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients results in fusion of the plant homeodomain (PHD) finger of a chromatin-binding protein to a common fusion partner, nucleoporin-98 (NUP98). By binding chromatin, the NUP98–PHD fusion protein—found to be a potent oncoprotein that induces AML—apparently locks developmentally important genes into an active state.

Gang G. Wang, Jikui Song, Zhanxin Wang, Holger L. Dormann, Fabio Casadio, Haitao Li, Jun-Li Luo, Dinshaw J. Patel & C. David Allis


See also: Editor's summary

Polar gradients of the DYRK-family kinase Pom1 couple cell length with the cell cycle p852

Cells normally grow to a certain size before they enter mitosis and divide, and entry into mitosis is known to be dependent on the activity of Cdk1; however, how this is sensed remains unknown. Here, and in an accompanying paper, it is shown that an intracellular polar gradient of dual-specificity the tyrosine-phosphorylation regulated kinase (DYRK) Pom1 relays size information to the Cdk1 inhibitor Wee1.

Sophie G. Martin & Martine Berthelot-Grosjean


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

A spatial gradient coordinates cell size and mitotic entry in fission yeast p857

Cells normally grow to a certain size before they enter mitosis and divide, and entry into mitosis is known to be dependent on the activity of Cdk1; however, how this is sensed remains unknown. Here, and in an accompanying paper, it is shown that an intracellular polar gradient of dual-specificity the tyrosine-phosphorylation regulated kinase (DYRK) Pom1 relays size information to the Cdk1 inhibitor Wee1.

James B. Moseley, Adeline Mayeux, Anne Paoletti & Paul Nurse


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

Chaperone-mediated pathway of proteasome regulatory particle assembly p861

The proteasome is a large proteolytic machine that degrades ubiquitin-tagged proteins. Substrates are recognized and unfolded by the regulatory particle (RP) and translocated into a central proteolytic chamber, called the core particle (CP), where degradation takes place. Here, and in a complimentary study, the pathway of RP assembly is elucidated, demonstrating that RP assembly is a highly orchestrated process.

Jeroen Roelofs, Soyeon Park, Wilhelm Haas, Geng Tian, Fiona E. McAllister, Ying Huo, Byung-Hoon Lee, Fan Zhang, Yigong Shi, Steven P. Gygi & Daniel Finley


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

Hexameric assembly of the proteasomal ATPases is templated through their C termini p866

The proteasome is a large proteolytic machine that degrades ubiquitin-tagged proteins. Substrates are recognized and unfolded by the regulatory particle (RP) and translocated into a central proteolytic chamber, called the core particle (CP), where degradation takes place. Here, and in a complimentary study, the pathway of RP assembly is elucidated, demonstrating that RP assembly is a highly orchestrated process.

Soyeon Park, Jeroen Roelofs, Woong Kim, Jessica Robert, Marion Schmidt, Steven P. Gygi & Daniel Finley


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

An unusual carbon–carbon bond cleavage reaction during phosphinothricin biosynthesis p871

The biosynthesis of the naturally occurring compound phosphinothricin tripeptide (PTT) involves the conversion of 2-hydroxyethylphosphonate (HEP) to hydroxymethylphosphonate (HMP). This requires the cleavage of a C(sp3)–C(sp3) bond. Here, the X-ray crystal structure of the enzyme that catalyzes this reaction (hydroxyethylphosphonate dioxygenase, HEPD) is solved, and the mechanism of this remarkable transformation is explored.

Robert M. Cicchillo, Houjin Zhang, Joshua A. V. Blodgett, John T. Whitteck, Gongyong Li, Satish K. Nair, Wilfred A. van der Donk & William W. Metcalf


See also: Editor's summary




Post-PhD in an economic downturn p876

Despite the gloom, this isn't a bad time to begin a scientific career. Keep your nerve, Bart Noordam and Patricia Gosling advise.

Bart Noordam & Patricia Gosling


Careers Q&A

Q&A p877

Blinded in 1984, geographer Reginald Golledge was this year named Faculty Research Lecturer by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Virginia Gewin


Postdoc journal

Personal peer review p877

I want to hear that I have a job and that my manuscript's been accepted.

Bryan Venters


In Brief

Stem cells in Maryland p877

Lab techs at a new Maryland facility will work on adult-derived stem-cell therapies.


Nuclear revival p877

The promise of a nuclear renaissance has driven an increase in nuclear engineering degrees.


Minority health concern p877

Pilot research grant aims to boost diversity of US biomedical workforce.




Timed release p880

Clean thoughts.

David Marusek


Extra navigation

  • Japanese table of contents