Volume 459 Issue 7249, 18 June 2009

With the swine-origin H1N1 influenza outbreak now officially a global pandemic, Gabriele Neumann, Takeshi Noda and Yoshihiro Kawaoka take stock of our knowledge of the emergence of the H1N1 virus, and compare its antigenic and pathologic properties with those of previously circulating influenza strains. The cover image shows a scanning electron micrograph of H1N1 viruses (A/California/04/09) emerged from a virus-infected cell. Most of the virus particles � seen covering the cell � are filamentous rather than spherical. [Image: G Neumann et al.]



  • Editorial |

    The 2009 flu pandemic highlights the urgent need for an independent international body for research into human diseases that originate in animals.

  • Editorial |

    Reactions to UK government changes are an example of how researchers should not behave in a downturn.

  • Editorial |

    Technology is founded on precision measurements, and scientists strive to make these ever more exact.

Research Highlights

Journal Club


News in Brief


  • News Feature |

    Metrologists are on a path to redefine the unit of temperature. The freezing point of water will never be the same again, finds Nicola Jones.

    • Nicola Jones
  • News Feature |

    While conservation biologists debate whether to move organisms threatened by the warming climate, one forester in British Columbia is already doing it. Emma Marris reports.

    • Emma Marris



  • Essay |

    Fossil finds of early humans in southeast Asia may actually be the remains of an unknown ape. Russell Ciochon says that many palaeoanthropologists — including himself — have been mistaken.

    • Russell L. Ciochon

Books and Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    A slew of publications examines our changing attitudes to the things we eat, so what lies behind our need for mutant maize or locally grown organic food, asks Jascha Hoffman?

    • Jascha Hoffman
  • Books & Arts |

    When Alice Waters founded Chez Panisse restaurant in 1971, she used fresh ingredients from local suppliers and sparked a culinary revolution in Berkeley, California, that has spread worldwide. For the past decade she has been taking that revolution into education. Waters talks about teaching science in the garden, and the true cost of a school lunch.

    • Jascha Hoffman

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    With palladium catalysts, chemists can manipulate ordinarily inert carbon–hydrogen bonds to build useful molecules from simple building blocks. How the catalysts guide this process has just become a bit clearer.

    • Gregory L. Hamilton
    •  & F. Dean Toste
  • News & Views |

    A molecular machine used by the malaria parasite to export its protein armoury into the host cell has at last been identified, providing researchers with a potentially invaluable therapeutic target.

    • Sarah B. Reiff
    •  & Boris Striepen
  • News & Views |

    Combine theoretical modelling, friction measurements and observations of serpentine slithering. Together, they show that snakes are in effect just taking a walk even when moving at high speed.

    • Andrew J. Clark
    •  & Adam P. Summers
  • News & Views |

    According to the latest study, our witnessing of the volcanic splendour of Jupiter's moon Io might just be a lucky circumstance. The odds are that the satellite will become quiescent on its escape from orbital custody.

    • Gerald Schubert
  • News & Views |

    What is the first signal that directs the rapid influx of immune cells to a wound to stave off potential infection? A study in the zebrafish reveals an unusual but well-qualified candidate.

    • Paul Martin
    •  & Yi Feng
  • News & Views |

    Demonstrating that macroscopic objects can display quantum behaviour, which is usually associated with the microscopic world of atoms, is a long-standing goal in physics. That goal is now within closer reach.

    • Pertti J. Hakonen
    •  & Mika A. Sillanpää
  • News & Views |

    It seems that many misfolded proteins can act like prions — spreading disease by imparting their misshapen structure to normal cellular counterparts. But how common are bona fide prions really?

    • Adriano Aguzzi


  • Feature | | open

    Despite the successes of genomics, little is known about how genetic information produces complex organisms. A look at the crucial functional elements of fly and worm genomes could change that.

    • Susan E. Celniker
    • , Laura A. L. Dillon
    • , Mark B. Gerstein
    • , Kristin C. Gunsalus
    • , Steven Henikoff
    • , Gary H. Karpen
    • , Manolis Kellis
    • , Eric C. Lai
    • , Jason D. Lieb
    • , David M. MacAlpine
    • , Gos Micklem
    • , Fabio Piano
    • , Michael Snyder
    • , Lincoln Stein
    • , Kevin P. White
    • , Robert H. Waterston
    •  & modENCODE Consortium



  • Article |

    The bird hand is thought to derive from the second, third and fourth digits of an ancestral five-digit hand. However, the three-fingered hand of theropod dinosaurs, which are the closest extinct relatives of birds, are thought to derive from the first, second and third digits. The discovery of a small, primitive herbivorous theropod from the Jurassic period of China with a stub of the first digit alongside more developed second, third and fourth digits, sheds light on this problem.

    • Xing Xu
    • , James M. Clark
    • , Jinyou Mo
    • , Jonah Choiniere
    • , Catherine A. Forster
    • , Gregory M. Erickson
    • , David W. E. Hone
    • , Corwin Sullivan
    • , David A. Eberth
    • , Sterling Nesbitt
    • , Qi Zhao
    • , Rene Hernandez
    • , Cheng-kai Jia
    • , Feng-lu Han
    •  & Yu Guo
  • Article |

    Malaria parasites reside in vacuoles during intracellular infection of erythrocytes and export many proteins into the host cell, a process that is essential for the virulence and viability of Plasmodium. Whereas transport across the parasite membrane is known to rely on the secretory pathway, the transporter responsible for the translocation of proteins across the vacuole membrane is now identified.

    • Tania F. de Koning-Ward
    • , Paul R. Gilson
    • , Justin A. Boddey
    • , Melanie Rug
    • , Brian J. Smith
    • , Anthony T. Papenfuss
    • , Paul R. Sanders
    • , Rachel J. Lundie
    • , Alexander G. Maier
    • , Alan F. Cowman
    •  & Brendan S. Crabb
  • Article |

    Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for severe food-borne infections. The first global comparative transcriptome analysis of this species reveals successive and coordinated global transcriptional changes during infection and points to previously unknown regulatory mechanisms in bacteria.

    • Alejandro Toledo-Arana
    • , Olivier Dussurget
    • , Georgios Nikitas
    • , Nina Sesto
    • , Hélène Guet-Revillet
    • , Damien Balestrino
    • , Edmund Loh
    • , Jonas Gripenland
    • , Teresa Tiensuu
    • , Karolis Vaitkevicius
    • , Mathieu Barthelemy
    • , Massimo Vergassola
    • , Marie-Anne Nahori
    • , Guillaume Soubigou
    • , Béatrice Régnault
    • , Jean-Yves Coppée
    • , Marc Lecuit
    • , Jörgen Johansson
    •  & Pascale Cossart


  • Letter |

    T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) patients are at an increased risk of central nervous system (CNS) relapse, and yet, despite its clinical importance, little is known about the mechanism of leukaemic cell infiltration of the CNS. Here, using T-ALL animal modelling and gene-expression profiling, the chemokine receptor CCR7 is shown to be the essential adhesion signal required for the targeting of leukaemic T cells into the CNS.

    • Silvia Buonamici
    • , Thomas Trimarchi
    • , Maria Grazia Ruocco
    • , Linsey Reavie
    • , Severine Cathelin
    • , Brenton G. Mar
    • , Apostolos Klinakis
    • , Yevgeniy Lukyanov
    • , Jen-Chieh Tseng
    • , Filiz Sen
    • , Eric Gehrie
    • , Mengling Li
    • , Elizabeth Newcomb
    • , Jiri Zavadil
    • , Daniel Meruelo
    • , Martin Lipp
    • , Sherif Ibrahim
    • , Argiris Efstratiadis
    • , David Zagzag
    • , Jonathan S. Bromberg
    • , Michael L. Dustin
    •  & Iannis Aifantis
  • Letter |

    Little is known about the mechanisms by which breast cancer cells metastasize to the brain. By performing gene expression analysis on cells that preferentially infiltrate the brain it has now been possible to identify three genes that are involved in this process, two of which—COX2 and HBEGF—have previously been shown to mediate breast cancer metastasis to the lung.

    • Paula D. Bos
    • , Xiang H.-F. Zhang
    • , Cristina Nadal
    • , Weiping Shu
    • , Roger R. Gomis
    • , Don X. Nguyen
    • , Andy J. Minn
    • , Marc J. van de Vijver
    • , William L. Gerald
    • , John A. Foekens
    •  & Joan Massagué
  • Letter |

    MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have a role in down-regulating gene expression, and the levels of specific miRNAs are important for correct embryonic development; however, the mechanisms by which this is regulated are unknown. The splicing regulatory protein, KSRP, is now found to regulate the precursor processing of a subset of miRNAs, and its disruption leads to effects on proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.

    • Michele Trabucchi
    • , Paola Briata
    • , MariaFlor Garcia-Mayoral
    • , Astrid D. Haase
    • , Witold Filipowicz
    • , Andres Ramos
    • , Roberto Gherzi
    •  & Michael G. Rosenfeld
  • Letter |

    Although structures of single-domain BLUF proteins—a photoreceptor protein domain that senses blue light—have been determined, there have been no reports of the structure of a BLUF protein containing a functional output domain; for this reason, the mechanism of light activation has remained enigmatic. The first biochemical, structural and mechanistic characterization of a full-length, active photoreceptor containing a BLUF sensor domain and a phosphodiesterase EAL output domain is now reported.

    • Thomas R. M. Barends
    • , Elisabeth Hartmann
    • , Julia J. Griese
    • , Thorsten Beitlich
    • , Natalia V. Kirienko
    • , Dmitri A. Ryjenkov
    • , Jochen Reinstein
    • , Robert L. Shoeman
    • , Mark Gomelsky
    •  & Ilme Schlichting
  • Letter |

    The geological activity on Io, volcanically the most active body in the Solar System, is thought to be the result of tides raised by Jupiter, but it is not known whether the current tidal heat production is sufficiently high to generate the observed surface heat flow. Here, a determination of the tidal dissipation in Io and Jupiter is reported; for Io, this is in good agreement with the observed surface heat flow, whereas for Jupiter, dissipation is found to be close to the upper bound of its average value expected from the long-term evolution of the system.

    • Valéry Lainey
    • , Jean-Eudes Arlot
    • , Özgür Karatekin
    •  & Tim Van Hoolst
  • Letter |

    Fabricating tiny mechanical structures where the vibrational motion is purely quantum mechanical is a long-standing goal in physics, and a parallel goal is the development of a scheme for observing and controlling such tiny motions. By coupling a tiny mechanical resonator to a superconducting two-level quantum system (qubit), the state of the superconducting qubit can be measured through its influence on the vibrations of the resonator, a demonstration of nanomechanical read-out of quantum interference.

    • M. D. LaHaye
    • , J. Suh
    • , P. M. Echternach
    • , K. C. Schwab
    •  & M. L. Roukes
  • Letter |

    Thermoelectric materials, which can convert heat into electricity, are of great interest for energy sustainability. The problem is the low efficiency of these materials, quantified by a coefficient, ZT, which for mid-temperature materials is usually around 1. The realization of a material, In4Se3–δ, which achieves the ZT value of 1.48 at 705 K, could open up a new avenue in the research to generate high ZT materials.

    • Jong-Soo Rhyee
    • , Kyu Hyoung Lee
    • , Sang Mock Lee
    • , Eunseog Cho
    • , Sang Il Kim
    • , Eunsung Lee
    • , Yong Seung Kwon
    • , Ji Hoon Shim
    •  & Gabriel Kotliar
  • Letter |

    About 33.5 million years ago, at the Eocene–Oligocene transition, the Earth's climate switched from greenhouse to icehouse conditions. The analysis of terrestrial spore and pollen evidence deposited in ocean sediments in the Norwegian–Greenland Sea now reveals that cold-month mean temperatures declined by about 5 °C prior to the Eocene–Oligocene transition and that seasonality increased.

    • James S. Eldrett
    • , David R. Greenwood
    • , Ian C. Harding
    •  & Matthew Huber
  • Letter |

    Fluid migration in the middle crust is difficult to explain—the environment is considered too hot for a dynamic fracture-sustained permeability, as in the upper crust, and fluid pathways are generally too deformed to be controlled by equilibrium wetting angles that apply to hotter, deeper environments. Here, synchroton X-ray tomography and scanning electron microscopy observations are used to formulate a model for fluid migration in shear zones which may explain fluid transfer through the middle crust.

    • F. Fusseis
    • , K. Regenauer-Lieb
    • , J. Liu
    • , R. M. Hough
    •  & F. De Carlo
  • Letter |

    There has been a long-standing debate about the forces that drove uplift of the low-relief and tectonically-stable Colorado plateau, which experienced about 2 km of rock uplift without significant internal deformation. Warming of the thicker, more iron-depleted Colorado plateau lithosphere over 35–40 million years—following removal of the Farallon plate from beneath North America—is now proposed to be the primary mechanism for driving rock uplift.

    • Mousumi Roy
    • , Thomas H. Jordan
    •  & Joel Pederson
  • Letter |

    The evolution of lowered virulence in spatially structured populations with limited dispersal has been suggested to be an example of adaptation at the group level. The extension of previous models now shows that the effect of dispersal can be understood within the framework of inclusive fitness theory, demonstrating that reduced virulence could be due to individual-level adaptation by the parasite.

    • Geoff Wild
    • , Andy Gardner
    •  & Stuart A. West
  • Letter |

    Copy number variations (CNVs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are two important potential sources of phenotypic variation in humans; however, only SNPs have been associated with cancer. Here, a CNV at 1q21.1 is shown to be associated with neuroblastoma, and a transcript within this CNV, NBPF23, is implicated in early tumorigenesis of the disease.

    • Sharon J. Diskin
    • , Cuiping Hou
    • , Joseph T. Glessner
    • , Edward F. Attiyeh
    • , Marci Laudenslager
    • , Kristopher Bosse
    • , Kristina Cole
    • , Yaël P. Mossé
    • , Andrew Wood
    • , Jill E. Lynch
    • , Katlyn Pecor
    • , Maura Diamond
    • , Cynthia Winter
    • , Kai Wang
    • , Cecilia Kim
    • , Elizabeth A. Geiger
    • , Patrick W. McGrady
    • , Alexandra I. F. Blakemore
    • , Wendy B. London
    • , Tamim H. Shaikh
    • , Jonathan Bradfield
    • , Struan F. A. Grant
    • , Hongzhe Li
    • , Marcella Devoto
    • , Eric R. Rappaport
    • , Hakon Hakonarson
    •  & John M. Maris
  • Letter |

    Self-incompatibility is an important mechanism used in many species to prevent inbreeding by ensuring rejection of 'self' pollen. The cloning of three alleles of a highly polymorphic pollen-expressed gene, PrpS (Papaver rhoeas pollen S), now provides evidence that it encodes the pollen S locus determinant and adds to our knowledge of the evolution of cell–cell recognition systems.

    • Michael J. Wheeler
    • , Barend H. J. de Graaf
    • , Natalie Hadjiosif
    • , Ruth M. Perry
    • , Natalie S. Poulter
    • , Kim Osman
    • , Sabina Vatovec
    • , Andrea Harper
    • , F. Christopher H. Franklin
    •  & Vernonica E. Franklin-Tong
  • Letter |

    In animals, within minutes of wounding, leukocytes are recruited to the site of injury across distances of hundreds of micrometres. Early leukocyte recruitment after injury is now shown to be driven by the establishment of an H2O2 gradient from the epithelium to the vasculature in zebrafish.

    • Philipp Niethammer
    • , Clemens Grabher
    • , A. Thomas Look
    •  & Timothy J. Mitchison


  • Futures |

    Caught in a trap.

    • Catherine Krahe


  • News |

    US academies track women's success along the academic pipeline.

    • Hannah Hoag
  • Postdoc Journal |

    Being rebuffed can be a source of strength.

    • Sam Walcott
  • Career Brief |

    University-based biosafety training programme expands.

  • Career Brief |

    Pre-med and medical-school curricula need defined science competencies.

  • Careers and Recruitment |

    Houston's Texas Medical Center is a biomedical behemoth. But it's not immune to the souring economy, as Gene Russo finds out.

    • Gene Russo


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