Reviews & Analysis

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  • Adapted extracts from selected News & Views articles published this year.

    News & Views
  • Hagfish embryos show developmental features that contradict the idea that these jawless fish are the most primitive living vertebrates. The findings also help to trace the evolution of vertebrate cranial structure. See Article p.175

    • Philippe Janvier
    News & Views
  • Malfunction of presenilin enzymes, which cleave proteins in cell membranes, can lead to Alzheimer's disease. A crystal structure of a microbial presenilin provides insights into the workings of this enzyme family. See Article p.56

    • Michael S. Wolfe
    News & Views
  • Irrespective of an organism's size, the proportional sizes of its parts remain constant. An experimental model reveals size-dependent adjustment of segment formation and gene-expression oscillations in vertebrates. See Letter p.101

    • Naama Barkai
    • Ben-Zion Shilo
    News & Views
  • A thermal effect predicted more than 40 years ago was nearly forgotten, while a related phenomenon stole the limelight. Now experimentally verified, the effect could spur the development of heat-controlling devices. See Letter p.401

    • Raymond W. Simmonds
    News & Views
  • It is increasingly accepted that metabolic changes in cancer cells can drive tumour formation. The finding that the SIRT6 protein suppresses tumour formation by regulating metabolism adds weight to this view.

    • Luisa Tasselli
    • Katrin F. Chua
    News & Views
  • Tet proteins regulate gene expression by removing methyl groups from DNA bases. This activity may be a facilitating step in turning on the cell-division pathway that produces sperm and egg cells. See Letter p.443

    • Sylvain Guibert
    • Michael Weber
    News & Views
  • A method has been developed to compute the precise quantum-mechanical properties of certain insulators. This approach avoids the uncertainties that are intrinsic to predictions made using existing approaches. See Article p.365

    • Paul R. C. Kent
    News & Views
  • A sample of the hydroxyl radical has been cooled to a temperature of a few millikelvin. The result opens the door to observing phenomena such as Bose–Einstein condensation of molecules in their ground state. See Letter p.396

    • Paul S. Julienne
    News & Views
  • The RNA-binding protein FMR1 has a key role in the neurodevelopmental disorder fragile X syndrome, but the RNAs targeted by the protein were mostly unknown. An analysis reveals thousands of possible targets. See Article p.382

    • Sabarinath Jayaseelan
    • Scott A. Tenenbaum
    News & Views
  • A class of fluorescent organic molecule has been designed that enables highly efficient light-emitting diodes to be made. The devices may turn out to be competitors to their conventional analogues. See Letter p.234

    • Brian D'Andrade
    News & Views
  • Synthetic chemistry has long been used to prepare useful compounds — especially those that are hard to obtain from natural sources. But synthetic biology is coming of age as an alternative strategy. A biologist and two chemists debate the merits of their fields' synthetic prowess.

    • Jay D. Keasling
    • Abraham Mendoza
    • Phil S. Baran
    News & Views Forum
  • Fossils found in rocks of the Ediacaran period in Australia have been previously characterized as early marine organisms. But a report suggests that these rocks are fossilized soils. So did some of these Ediacaran organisms in fact live on land, like lichens? A palaeontologist and a geologist weigh up the evidence. See Letter p.89

    • Shuhai Xiao
    • L. Paul Knauth
    News & Views Forum
  • Constructing the history of star formation over cosmic time requires an understanding of how starlight is absorbed by dust in galaxies. It now seems that there is less universality in such absorption across galaxies than expected.

    • Amy Barger
    News & Views
  • The discovery of a dramatic structural rearrangement that is stabilized by an RNA scaffold helps to explain how nascent proteins are delivered for export from the cell cytoplasm. See Letter p.271

    • Harris D. Bernstein
    News & Views
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity has pledged to reduce species-extinction threats around the globe by 2020. Analysis shows that this goal is achievable but requires a significant increase in the current rate of investment.

    • Stephen Polasky
    News & Views
  • The widest binary star systems pose a challenge to theory: true stellar twins could not form so far apart. Simulations suggest these twins are in fact triplets, two of which masquerade as one star and cast out the third. See Letter p.221

    • Keivan Guadalupe Stassun
    News & Views