Table of Contents

Volume 551 Number 7679 pp141-256

9 November 2017

About the cover

The image shows two 3D-printed models of mouse astrocytes (orange and grey) apposed to one another as they would be found in the brain. It has long been known that astrocytes have an intimate relationship with neurons and as a result, can significantly influence the function of synapses. However, the molecular means by which an astrocyte attains its complex structure to maintain this relationship has remained obscure. In this week's issue, Cagla Eroglu and her colleagues reveal that in mice, one of the keys is the ability of astrocytes to express neuroligins, a family of cell-adhesion molecules with previously known roles at neuronal synapses. In astrocytes, neuroligins interact with neurexin proteins expressed on the neuron to regulate astrocyte morphological development and, in turn, modulate synaptic density and function. In particular, the team found that the formation and function of cortical excitatory synapses was impaired when neuroligin 2 was not expressed by the astrocyte. Given that neuroligin mutations have already been linked to neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, the researchers suggest that astrocytes may have a role in a mechanism that causes disease. Cover image: Katie King, Duke University.

This Week



World View


Research Highlights


Seven Days


News in Focus




Books and Arts

  • Polar exploration: The forgotten journey

    Huw Lewis-Jones revisits a pioneering, ill-fated expedition to map the Arctic.

    • Review of Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World's Greatest Scientific Expedition
      Stephen R. Bown
  • Books in brief

    Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.





  • Behaviour: A lookout for luck

    Scientists are as sceptical as they come — but many still engage in personal rituals or use totems in the lab and field.

    • Kendall Powell



naturejobs job listings and advertising features


  • Iago v2.0

    Thus credulous fools are caught.

    • Karlo Yeager Rodríguez


Technology Feature

  • Ultrasound for the brain

    Ultrasonic energy can be harnessed to alter brain activity and treat disease — but first, scientists need to learn how it works.

    • Esther Landhuis

Outlook: Bladder cancer

Produced with support of a grant from Merck & Co., Inc.

Produced with support from:


spotlight: Spotlight on Neuroscience




  • Creation of forest edges has a global impact on forest vertebrates

    • M. Pfeifer
    • V. Lefebvre
    • C. A. Peres
    • C. Banks-Leite
    • O. R. Wearn
    • C. J. Marsh
    • S. H. M. Butchart
    • V. Arroyo-Rodríguez
    • J. Barlow
    • A. Cerezo
    • L. Cisneros
    • N. D’Cruze
    • D. Faria
    • A. Hadley
    • S. M. Harris
    • B. T. Klingbeil
    • U. Kormann
    • L. Lens
    • G. F. Medina-Rangel
    • J. C. Morante-Filho
    • P. Olivier
    • S. L. Peters
    • A. Pidgeon
    • D. B. Ribeiro
    • C. Scherber
    • L. Schneider-Maunoury
    • M. Struebig
    • N. Urbina-Cardona
    • J. I. Watling
    • M. R. Willig
    • E. M. Wood
    • R. M. Ewers

    Fragmentation of forest ecosystems produces forest edges, which affect the distribution of many analysed vertebrate species; smaller-bodied amphibians, larger reptiles and medium-sized mammals experience a larger reduction in suitable habitat than other forest-core species.


  • Energetic eruptions leading to a peculiar hydrogen-rich explosion of a massive star

    • Iair Arcavi
    • D. Andrew Howell
    • Daniel Kasen
    • Lars Bildsten
    • Griffin Hosseinzadeh
    • Curtis McCully
    • Zheng Chuen Wong
    • Sarah Rebekah Katz
    • Avishay Gal-Yam
    • Jesper Sollerman
    • Francesco Taddia
    • Giorgos Leloudas
    • Christoffer Fremling
    • Peter E. Nugent
    • Assaf Horesh
    • Kunal Mooley
    • Clare Rumsey
    • S. Bradley Cenko
    • Melissa L. Graham
    • Daniel A. Perley
    • Ehud Nakar
    • Nir J. Shaviv
    • Omer Bromberg
    • Ken J. Shen
    • Eran O. Ofek
    • Yi Cao
    • Xiaofeng Wang
    • Fang Huang
    • Liming Rui
    • Tianmeng Zhang
    • Wenxiong Li
    • Zhitong Li
    • Jujia Zhang
    • Stefano Valenti
    • David Guevel
    • Benjamin Shappee
    • Christopher S. Kochanek
    • Thomas W.-S. Holoien
    • Alexei V. Filippenko
    • Rob Fender
    • Anders Nyholm
    • Ofer Yaron
    • Mansi M. Kasliwal
    • Mark Sullivan
    • Nadja Blagorodnova
    • Richard S. Walters
    • Ragnhild Lunnan
    • Danny Khazov
    • Igor Andreoni
    • Russ R. Laher
    • Nick Konidaris
    • Przemek Wozniak
    • Brian Bue

    Observations of an event (several energetic eruptions leading to a terminal explosion that is surprisingly hydrogen-rich) with the spectrum of a supernova do not match with other observations of supernovae.

    See also
  • History-independent cyclic response of nanotwinned metals

    • Qingsong Pan
    • Haofei Zhou
    • Qiuhong Lu
    • Huajian Gao
    • Lei Lu

    In copper components containing highly oriented nanotwins, correlated ‘necklace’ dislocations moving back and forth offer an unusually fatigue-resistant response to engineering stress.

  • Role of stacking disorder in ice nucleation

    • Laura Lupi
    • Arpa Hudait
    • Baron Peters
    • Michael Grünwald
    • Ryan Gotchy Mullen
    • Andrew H. Nguyen
    • Valeria Molinero

    Stacking-disordered ice crystallites are shown to have an ice nucleation rate much higher than predicted by classical nucleation theory, which needs to be taken into account in cloud modelling.

    See also
  • Detecting evolutionary forces in language change

    • Mitchell G. Newberry
    • Christopher A. Ahern
    • Robin Clark
    • Joshua B. Plotkin

    Analyses of digital corpora of annotated texts reveal the influence of stochastic drift versus selection in grammatical shifts in English and provide a general method for quantitatively testing theories of language change.

  • Kctd13 deletion reduces synaptic transmission via increased RhoA

    • Christine Ochoa Escamilla
    • Irina Filonova
    • Angela K. Walker
    • Zhong X. Xuan
    • Roopashri Holehonnur
    • Felipe Espinosa
    • Shunan Liu
    • Summer B. Thyme
    • Isabel A. López-García
    • Dorian B. Mendoza
    • Noriyoshi Usui
    • Jacob Ellegood
    • Amelia J. Eisch
    • Genevieve Konopka
    • Jason P. Lerch
    • Alexander F. Schier
    • Haley E. Speed
    • Craig M. Powell

    Experimental evidence that global Kctd13 reduction leads to increased RhoA levels that reduce synaptic transmission, implicating RhoA as a potential therapeutic target for neuropsychiatric disorders associated with copy-number variants that include KCTD13.

  • Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity

    • James J. Jun
    • Nicholas A. Steinmetz
    • Joshua H. Siegle
    • Daniel J. Denman
    • Marius Bauza
    • Brian Barbarits
    • Albert K. Lee
    • Costas A. Anastassiou
    • Alexandru Andrei
    • Çağatay Aydın
    • Mladen Barbic
    • Timothy J. Blanche
    • Vincent Bonin
    • João Couto
    • Barundeb Dutta
    • Sergey L. Gratiy
    • Diego A. Gutnisky
    • Michael Häusser
    • Bill Karsh
    • Peter Ledochowitsch
    • Carolina Mora Lopez
    • Catalin Mitelut
    • Silke Musa
    • Michael Okun
    • Marius Pachitariu
    • Jan Putzeys
    • P. Dylan Rich
    • Cyrille Rossant
    • Wei-lung Sun
    • Karel Svoboda
    • Matteo Carandini
    • Kenneth D. Harris
    • Christof Koch
    • John O’Keefe
    • Timothy D. Harris

    New silicon probes known as Neuropixels are shown to record from hundreds of neurons simultaneously in awake and freely moving rodents.

    See also
  • Ultra-selective looming detection from radial motion opponency

    • Nathan C. Klapoetke
    • Aljoscha Nern
    • Martin Y. Peek
    • Edward M. Rogers
    • Patrick Breads
    • Gerald M. Rubin
    • Michael B. Reiser
    • Gwyneth M. Card

    The discovery of a visual-looming-sensitive neuron, LPLC2, that provides input to the Drosophila escape pathway, and uses dendrites patterned to integrate directionally selective inputs to selectively encode outward motion.

  • Nutrient co-limitation at the boundary of an oceanic gyre

    • Thomas J. Browning
    • Eric P. Achterberg
    • Insa Rapp
    • Anja Engel
    • Erin M. Bertrand
    • Alessandro Tagliabue
    • C. Mark Moore

    Nutrient amendment experiments at the boundary of the South Atlantic gyre reveal extensive regions in which nitrogen and iron are co-limiting, with other micronutrients also approaching co-deficiency; such limitations potentially increase phytoplankton community diversity.

  • Drug-tolerant persister cancer cells are vulnerable to GPX4 inhibition

    • Matthew J. Hangauer
    • Vasanthi S. Viswanathan
    • Matthew J. Ryan
    • Dhruv Bole
    • John K. Eaton
    • Alexandre Matov
    • Jacqueline Galeas
    • Harshil D. Dhruv
    • Michael E. Berens
    • Stuart L. Schreiber
    • Frank McCormick
    • Michael T. McManus

    Cancer persister cells, which survive cytotoxic treatments, are shown to be sensitive to inhibition of the lipid hydroperoxidase GPX4.


  • Erratum: Strong constraints on aerosol–cloud interactions from volcanic eruptions

    • Florent F. Malavelle
    • Jim M. Haywood
    • Andy Jones
    • Andrew Gettelman
    • Lieven Clarisse
    • Sophie Bauduin
    • Richard P. Allan
    • Inger Helene H. Karset
    • Jón Egill Kristjánsson
    • Lazaros Oreopoulos
    • Nayeong Cho
    • Dongmin Lee
    • Nicolas Bellouin
    • Olivier Boucher
    • Daniel P. Grosvenor
    • Ken S. Carslaw
    • Sandip Dhomse
    • Graham W. Mann
    • Anja Schmidt
    • Hugh Coe
    • Margaret E. Hartley
    • Mohit Dalvi
    • Adrian A. Hill
    • Ben T. Johnson
    • Colin E. Johnson
    • Jeff R. Knight
    • Fiona M. O’Connor
    • Daniel G. Partridge
    • Philip Stier
    • Gunnar Myhre
    • Steven Platnick
    • Graeme L. Stephens
    • Hanii Takahashi
    • Thorvaldur Thordarson