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Volume 458 Issue 7234, 5 March 2009

During infection, vaccinia virus enhances its cell-to-cell spread by stimulating ARP2/3-complex-dependent actin polymerization, and this week Weisswange et al. provide insights into the signalling networks that regulate this. The cover is a composite of fluorescence image stills from a movie of the paths taken by vaccinia virus-induced actin tails over a 5-minute period in infected cells.



  • Editorial |

    When it comes to health care, the balance between cost and effectiveness is a difficult one to strike. The injection of $1.1 billion into the US system therefore needs to produce sustainable results.

  • Editorial |

    NASA should work immediately to replace the lost Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

  • Editorial |

    The Obama administration should ensure that science informs the US strategy on nuclear waste.

Research Highlights

Journal Club


News in Brief


  • Column |

    Despite huge obstacles, political forces in Washington may finally get greenhouse-gas legislation moving, says David Goldston.

    • David Goldston

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Running one of the biggest academic labs in America gives Robert Langer almost 100 people to help and advise; his BlackBerry gives him the rest of the world. Helen Pearson joins the throng.

    • Helen Pearson
  • News Feature |

    Alcoholics Anonymous and its spin-off programmes have been helping people with addictions for decades. Jim Schnabel talks to the neuroscientists who are looking deeper into the approach.

    • Jim Schnabel



  • Essay |

    Scientists have been too dogmatic about scientific truth and sociologists have fostered too much scepticism — social scientists must now elect to put science back at the core of society, says Harry Collins.

    • Harry Collins

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Nobel prizewinner Harold Varmus's autobiography reveals his skill and passion for research and politics, and shows why he is one of Barack Obama's top science advisers in Washington DC, explains Iain Mattaj.

    • Iain Mattaj
  • Books & Arts |

    Canadian poet Christian Bök plans to encode his verse into DNA that will sit within the genome of a live bacterium. He tells Nature why he wants to create an organism that will translate its own poetic response.

    • Krista Zala

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Proteins work properly only if they have the correct three-dimensional atomic structure. It is now possible to look at the structures and dynamics of these biological macromolecules as they function inside cells.

    • David S. Burz
    • Alexander Shekhtman
  • News & Views |

    Atomically thin sheets of graphite are metal-like conductors — until they react with hydrogen, when they become insulators. This curious effect could be an excellent model for studying metal–insulator transitions.

    • Michael S. Fuhrer
    • Shaffique Adam
  • News & Views |

    Ever since penicillin was isolated from mould, it has been assumed that naturally occurring antibiotics are good starting points for drug-discovery programmes. The latest study shows that this isn't always true.

    • Soumaya Zlitni
    • Eric D. Brown
  • News & Views |

    The observed growth of galaxies suggests that the black holes thought to lurk at their centres may find each other and merge. A large survey of galaxies has finally netted two black holes in a tight pairing.

    • Jon M. Miller
  • News & Views |

    Tumours must get their oxygen fix, otherwise invasive tumour growth and spread can occur. One way of quelling oxygen-deprived tumours might be through manipulating the oxygen sensor PHD2.

    • Andrew V. Benest
    • Hellmut G. Augustin
  • News & Views |

    The observation that atomic disorder emerges exceptionally fast during laser-induced melting of crystalline bismuth prompts fresh thinking about the nature of this phase transition.

    • A. Cavalleri
  • News & Views |

    The process of programmed cell death can either induce anti-inflammatory immune responses or actively promote inflammation. Whether the dying cell is infected seems to govern which response is triggered.

    • Brigitta Stockinger
  • News & Views |

    The geochemistry of the Martian surface has largely been determined by the eruption of magmas to form basaltic rocks. A new line of argument has chlorine as an influential agent in that process.

    • Harry Y. McSween


  • Article |

    This paper presents the first X-ray structure of a member of the the betaine/choline/carnitine transporter family. This Na+-coupled symporter (BetP) has the same overall fold as other unrelated Na+-coupled transporters and is captured in an intermediate conformation, whereby the substrate (glycine betaine) is occluded from both sides of the membrane.

    • Susanne Ressl
    • Anke C. Terwisscha van Scheltinga
    • Christine Ziegler


  • Letter |

    The role of mergers in producing galaxies, together with the finding that most large galaxies harbour black holes in their nuclei, implies that binary supermassive black hole systems should be common. This study reports that the quasar SDSS J153636.22+044127.0 is a candidate binary, and shows two broad-line emission systems, separated in velocity by 3,500 km s−1.

    • Todd A. Boroson
    • Tod R. Lauer
  • Letter |

    Electron diffraction is used to show that the melting of crystalline bismuth after laser excitation occurs exceptionally fast, within half the period of a lattice vibration. The extraordinary fast melting is attributed to profound laser-induced changes in the potential energy surface of the bismuth lattice: in the changed potential, the atoms experience strong driving forces that launch them from their initial equilibrium positions and towards the disorder typical of liquids.

    • Germán Sciaini
    • Maher Harb
    • R. J. Dwayne Miller
  • Letter |

    This paper identifies an oxide system where changes in valence state occur as a result of charge being shuffled between different cations in the host structure, rather than via doping, this charge transfer being sensitive to temperature. As a result, the material can be reversibly transformed from one possessing iron in an unusually high Fe3.75+ state to one possessing rare Cu3+ ions. These changes are reflected in the magnetic and electronic properties of the material and, intriguingly, are accompanied by negative thermal expansion.

    • Y. W. Long
    • N. Hayashi
    • Y. Shimakawa
  • Letter |

    This study used interferometric analysis of synthetic aperture radar images to measure postseismic surface deformation after the 2003 Bam, Iran earthquake and shows reversal of coseismic dilatancy in the shallow fault zone that causes subsidence of the surface. Such deformation spread through a fault zone volume may explain the observed shallow slip deficits for some strike-slip fault ruptures.

    • Eric J. Fielding
    • Paul R. Lundgren
    • Gareth J. Funning
  • Letter |

    Phytoplankton respond to phosphorous limitation with a decrease in cellular phosphorous content. Using the populations in the oligotrophic Saragossa Sea as an example, it is now shown that phytoplankton, but not heterotrophic bacteria, substitute their membrane phospholipids with lipid classes containing sulphur and nitrogen, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in these environments.

    • Benjamin A. S. Van Mooy
    • Helen F. Fredricks
    • Eric A. Webb
  • Letter |

    In sleeping adult zebra finches, forebrain premotor neuron activity is proposed to reflect daytime singing episodes. This study shows that in juvenile songbirds yet to master their song, auditory exposure to an adult 'tutor' song produced profound changes in the premotor neuronal activity during the subsequent sleep session. These changes in night time activity preceded and reflected tutor-song induced changes in singing the next day.

    • Sylvan S. Shank
    • Daniel Margoliash
  • Letter |

    Use of live cell imaging of vaccinia virus-infected cells with fluorescence bleaching shows that the turnover rate of N-WASP (an activator of the ARP2/3 complex) is inversely proportional to the rate of actin-based motility of the virus. Actin polymerization is also required to promote N-WASP turnover on the virus. These observations are consistent with a model in which the stability of N-WASP association beneath the virus controls the overall rate of Arp2/3 complex-dependent actin-based motility.

    • Ina Weisswange
    • Timothy P. Newsome
    • Michael Way
  • Letter |

    The CBM complex has a key role in transducing signals from the antigen receptors in T and B cells to the transcription factor NF-κB during lymphocyte activation. Casein kinase 1α (CK1α) is shown to regulate the CBM complex in two opposing ways, first promoting and then subsequently terminating receptor-induced NF-κB activity and lymphocyte activation.

    • Nicolas Bidère
    • Vu N. Ngo
    • Michael J. Lenardo
  • Letter |

    Using a combination of new generation long- and short-read sequencing technologies, this study analyses cancer samples for gene fusion transcripts. The approach uncovers transcripts arising from known gene fusions in leukaemia and prostate cancer, as well as newly discovered ones in prostate cancer.

    • Christopher A. Maher
    • Chandan Kumar-Sinha
    • Arul M. Chinnaiyan
  • Letter |

    This paper determines the first 3D protein structure calculated exclusively on the basis of information obtained in living cells. The model protein used in this 'proof of principle' study is the putative heavy metal-binding protein TTHA1718 from Thermus thermophilus, and it is proposed that the approach could be used to generate accurate high-resolution structures of many other proteins in living environments.

    • Daisuke Sakakibara
    • Atsuko Sasaki
    • Yutaka Ito
  • Letter |

    In-cell NMR is a relatively new technique that can be used to examine the conformations of proteins in living cells at the atomic level. This method has been successfully used in bacteria and Xenopus laevis oocytes, but wider application of the technique to living eukaryote cells has been limited by the inefficient delivery of isotope-labeled proteins into eukaryote somatic cells. This study shows that it is possible to deliver suitably labelled proteins into the cytosol of human cells through the pyrenebutyrate-mediated action of cell-penetrating peptides that have been linked covalently to the proteins of interest.

    • Kohsuke Inomata
    • Ayako Ohno
    • Masahiro Shirakawa



  • Prospects |

    There are concrete ways to address the obstacles that face women and people from minority groups in science.

    • Karen Kaplan


Bricks & Mortar

Career View

  • Career View |

    Not your father's recession

    • Bryan Venters


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