Reviews & Analysis

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  • In snails, manipulating the orientation of cells in the early embryo alters the left–right asymmetry of the shell and body. These findings refine the search for the symmetry-breaking event in this and other animals.

    • Nipam H. Patel
    News & Views
  • A phase transition of Earth's most abundant mineral occurs at pressures and temperatures corresponding to those thought to exist just above Earth's core. New experiments shed light on this enigmatic D′′ region.

    • Kanani K. M. Lee
    News & Views
  • Astronomers know little about γ-ray bursts other than that they are the most energetic explosions in the Universe. The latest observations indicate that large-scale magnetism contributes to their power.

    • Maxim Lyutikov
    News & Views
  • The differing origins of gut dendritic cells — white blood cells that modulate immune responses — may explain how the intestinal immune system manages to destroy harmful pathogens while tolerating beneficial bacteria.

    • Sophie Laffont
    • Fiona Powrie
    News & Views
  • Ion channels opened by glutamate mediate fast cell-to-cell information transfer in the nervous system. The structure of a full-length tetrameric glutamate receptor is both confirmatory and revelatory.

    • Lonnie P. Wollmuth
    • Stephen F. Traynelis
    News & Views
  • Membrane-bound protein channels that allow only urea to pass through are vital to the kidney's ability to conserve water. Crystal structures show that the channels select urea molecules by passing them through thin slots.

    • Mark A. Knepper
    • Joseph A. Mindell
    News & Views
  • The weakest interactions of protein complexes are thought to be lost when such assemblies are removed from their natural, watery environments. Not so, reveals a study in the vacuum chamber of a mass spectrometer.

    • Justin L. P. Benesch
    • Carol V. Robinson
    News & Views
  • Following inflammation or nerve injury, stimuli that are normally perceived as innocuous can evoke persistent pain. A population of neurons that contributes to this syndrome has now been identified.

    • Liam J. Drew
    • Amy B. MacDermott
    News & Views
  • The ring-shaped helicase enzyme Rho moves along RNA using ATP as an energy source. Coordinating ATP hydrolysis with nucleic-acid binding seems to determine the direction and mechanism of helicase movement.

    • Smita S. Patel
    News & Views
  • A decades-old theory of stellar evolution — that the most massive stars end their life in a peculiar type of explosion termed a pair-instability supernova — finally seems to have been confirmed by observations.

    • Norbert Langer
    News & Views
  • An elegant experiment shows that atoms subjected to a pair of laser beams can behave like electrons in a magnetic field, as demonstrated by the appearance of quantized vortices in a neutral superfluid.

    • Martin Zwierlein
    News & Views
  • The study of fast and intricate enzyme reactions requires methods that have the speed and sophistication to match. Such an approach reveals the way in which proteins are tagged with ubiquitin for destruction.

    • Malavika Raman
    • J. Wade Harper
    News & Views
  • The hunt for the receptor for abscisic acid, initially marked by false starts and lingering doubts, has met with success. Converging studies now reveal the details of how this plant hormone transmits its message.

    • Laura B. Sheard
    • Ning Zheng
    News & Views
  • When it comes to proteins and their environments, opposites repel. So how is the highly charged, polar helix of a transmembrane ion channel accommodated by a non-polar membrane? Easily, if the charges are buried.

    • Anthony G. Lee
    News & Views
  • The common skate is not at all common: this large marine fish has 'critically endangered' status. That it turns out to be not one species, but two, is a sharp reminder that good taxonomy must underpin conservation.

    • Nicholas K. Dulvy
    • John D. Reynolds
    News & Views