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Volume 477 Issue 7366, 29 September 2011

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) mediate the majority of a cell’s responses to hormones and neurotransmitters, and to the senses of sight, olfaction and taste. This makes GPCRs potentially the most important group of drug targets in the human body. GPCRs are deeply embedded in the cell membrane, crossing it seven times, so structure determination for these complexes is particularly challenging — as recounted in a recent News Feature (see The eagerly-awaited X-ray crystal structure of a GPCR transmembrane signalling complex has now been determined by Brian Kobilka’s group, and the paper is published in its final form in this issue. The structure presented is of an agonist-occupied monomer of the β2 adrenergic receptor in complex with Gs, the stimulatory G protein for adenylyl cyclase. An accompanying paper reports the use of peptide amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry to probe the protein dynamics of this signalling complex.


  • Editorial |

    Sending satellites to monitor the atmosphere is fundamental to weather and climate research. So why is the United States making such a meal of it?

  • Editorial |

    Canada should make public the identities of researchers who commit misconduct.

  • Editorial |

    Research that underpins the preservation of cultural treasures should be championed.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: sequencing market sags; link between chronic fatigue and XMRV retracted; and the NSF encourages flexible working.


News Feature


  • Comment |

    John P. A. Ioannidis proposes ways to save scientists from spending all their time writing grants.

    • John P. A. Ioannidis
  • Comment |

    Charles Seaford argues that a clear measure of well-being should be devised to help people judge how government policies affect their quality of life.

    • Charles Seaford

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Jonathan Weitzman relishes two accounts of how environment can influence the script of our genome.

    • Jonathan Weitzman
  • Books & Arts |

    The Icelandic singer Björk's album Biophilia, set for release on 10 October, features songs on DNA, crystals, viruses and electricity — each accompanied by an iPad app that doubles as a music lesson. She explains how her upbringing and environmental activism has inspired her, and how touch-screen technology has changed the way she composes.

    • Andrew Mitchinson


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    G-protein-coupled receptors initiate signalling pathways by forming complexes with agonist molecules and G proteins. The first crystal structure of such a complex is both reassuring and provocative. See Article p.549 & Letter p.611

    • Thue W. Schwartz
    • Thomas P. Sakmar
  • News & Views |

    Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity has passed a rigorous test on the scale of galaxy clusters. But the test does not rule out a popular alternative model of gravity. See Letter p.567

    • Gary Wegner
  • News & Views |

    The mammalian immune system can fight a myriad of pathogens. In part, this involves a superfamily of cytoplasmic receptors that dictate assembly of specific pro-inflammatory inflammasome complexes. See Letters p.592 & p.596

    • Denise M. Monack
  • News & Views |

    There are many challenges involved in understanding climate variations in the tropics, and how the Pacific climate might change with global warming. One study offers a surprising perspective on the mechanisms involved.

    • Jing-Jia Luo
  • News & Views |

    Mishandling of calcium ions by cardiac cells causes the heart to malfunction. The discovery of a crucial modification to a calcium pump inside the cell opens up a potential way to correct this. See Letter p.601

    • Sudha K. Shenoy
    • Howard A. Rockman
  • News & Views |

    The global uptake of carbon by land plants may be greater than previously thought, according to observations based on the enigmatic Keeling curve of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. See Letter p.579

    • Matthias Cuntz




  • Feature |

    Internet-based tools and videos are making it easier to perfect lab techniques and tasks. But they augment, rather than replace, conventional guidance in person.

    • Katharine Sanderson


  • Q&A |

    Chemical pathologist makes breakthroughs in fetal-disease diagnostics.

    • Virginia Gewin

Career Brief


  • Futures |

    Parallel processing.

    • Ed Rybicki

Brief Communications Arising

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