Research articles

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  • Usually materials design focuses on attractive interactions, but here a hydrogel is described whose properties are dominated by electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged titanate nanosheets embedded within it; the material, inspired by articular cartilage, deforms easily when sheared parallel to the sheets but resists compressive forces applied orthogonally.

    • Mingjie Liu
    • Yasuhiro Ishida
    • Takuzo Aida
  • Quantized conductance in the transport of neutral atoms is observed in an optically produced channel — either a quantum point contact or a quantum wire — between two atom reservoirs; the lowest non-zero conductance value is the universal conductance quantum, the reciprocal of Planck’s constant.

    • Sebastian Krinner
    • David Stadler
    • Tilman Esslinger
  • Collective behaviour in animal groups can improve individual perception and decision-making, but the neural mechanisms involved have been hard to access in classic models for these phenomena; here it is shown that Drosophila’s olfactory responses are enhanced in groups of flies, through mechanosensory neuron-dependent touch interactions.

    • Pavan Ramdya
    • Pawel Lichocki
    • Richard Benton
  • The long elusive mammalian meiosis-specific kinetochore factor has been identified in mice; MEIKIN—which plays an equivalent role to the yeast proteins Spo13 and Moa1—ensures mono-orientation, protects sister chromatid cohesion and recruits the kinase PLK1 to the kinetochores.

    • Jihye Kim
    • Kei-ichiro Ishiguro
    • Yoshinori Watanabe
  • Up to half of children with severe developmental disorders of probable genetic origin remain without a genetic diagnosis; here, in a systematic and nationwide study of 1,133 children with severe, undiagnosed developmental disorders, and their parents, exome sequencing and array-based detection of chromosomal rearrangements reveals novel genes causing developmental disorders, increasing the proportion of children that can now be diagnosed to 31%.

    • T. W. Fitzgerald
    • S. S. Gerety
    • M. E. Hurles
  • The full complement of transcriptional regulators that affect synthesis of the plant secondary cell wall remains largely undetermined; here, the network of protein–DNA interactions controlling secondary cell wall synthesis of Arabidopsis thaliana is determined, showing that gene expression is regulated by a series of feed-forward loops to ensure that the secondary cell wall is deposited at the right time and in the right place.

    • M. Taylor-Teeples
    • L. Lin
    • S. M. Brady
  • Lineage-tracing experiments identify a rare, undifferentiated population of quiescent cells in the mouse distal lung that are activated through a Notch signalling pathway to repair the epithelium after bleomycin- or influenza-mediated injury; inappropriate Notch signalling may be a major contributor to failed regeneration within the lungs of patients with chronic lung disease.

    • Andrew E. Vaughan
    • Alexis N. Brumwell
    • Harold A. Chapman
  • A newly developed method, NAD captureSeq, has been used to show that bacteria cap the 5′-ends of some RNAs to protect against degradation, much as happens with eukaryotic messenger RNAs, although with a different modification: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.

    • Hana Cahová
    • Marie-Luise Winz
    • Andres Jäschke
  • The structure and function of CetZ, a protein related to both tubulin and FtsZ (the bacterial homologue of tubulin) from the archaeon Haloferax volcanii, is reported and its involvement in the control of cell shape uncovered; it appears that this family of proteins was involved in the control of cell shape long before the evolution of eukaryotes.

    • Iain G. Duggin
    • Christopher H. S. Aylett
    • Jan Löwe
  • Group 2 innate lymphoid cells are shown to have a critical role in energy homeostasis by producing methionine-enkephalin peptides in response to interleukin 33, thus promoting the beiging of white adipose tissue; increased numbers of beige (also known as brown-like or brite) fat cells in white adipose tissue leads to increased energy expenditure and decreased adiposity.

    • Jonathan R. Brestoff
    • Brian S. Kim
    • David Artis
  • The structural polymorphism of intrinsically disordered protein 4E-BP2 allows it to regulate translation initiation through post-translational modification-mediated folding, exemplifying a new and potentially general mechanism of biological regulation mediated by intrinsically disordered proteins.

    • Alaji Bah
    • Robert M. Vernon
    • Julie D. Forman-Kay
  • Hubble Space Telescope observations of the stellar cluster NGC 1651, which is approximately two billion years old, show that the colour–brightness distribution of stars old enough to have left the main sequence can be explained only by a single-age population, despite having a feature usually interpreted to indicate an age spread of more than 300 million years.

    • Chengyuan Li
    • Richard de Grijs
    • Licai Deng
  • Highly substituted carbon–carbon bonds are constructed using a simple iron catalyst and an inexpensive silane: more than 60 examples of this reaction — in which heteroatom-substituted olefins are reacted with electron-deficient olefins — are presented.

    • Julian C. Lo
    • Jinghan Gui
    • Phil S. Baran
  • Cationic substances, including some drugs, can activate mast cells in an IgE-independent manner, leading to histamine release, inflammation and airway contraction; here, the G-protein-coupled receptor MrgprB2, the orthologue of human MRGPRX2, is shown to be the sole mast cell receptor for these substances in mice.

    • Benjamin D. McNeil
    • Priyanka Pundir
    • Xinzhong Dong
  • A protein degradation pathway is found at the inner nuclear membrane that is distinct from, but complementary to, endoplasmic-reticulum-associated protein degradation, and which is mediated by the Asi protein complex; a genome-wide library screening of yeast identifies more than 20 substrates of this pathway, which is shown to target mislocalized integral membrane proteins for degradation.

    • Anton Khmelinskii
    • Ewa Blaszczak
    • Michael Knop
  • The dynamics of two correlated electrons can be reconstructed from the quantum interference of low-lying doubly excited states in helium, as observed in attosecond transient-absorption spectra, and can be controlled by tuning the interaction with a visible laser field of variable intensity.

    • Christian Ott
    • Andreas Kaldun
    • Thomas Pfeifer