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Volume 492 Issue 7428, 13 December 2012


  • Editorial |

    The political inertia that characterizes the world’s response to global warming cannot continue. Politicians and policy-makers must follow the climate’s lead — and change.

  • Editorial |

    Evidence for the first land life is controversial, but the fossil record has a tendency to surprise.

World View

  • World View |

    The energy in–energy out hypothesis is not set in stone, argues Gary Taubes. It is time to test hormonal theories about why we get fat.

    • Gary Taubes

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Arctic report card tallies climate-change effects; wave-powered robot breaks distance record; and Amgen snaps up deCODE Genetics.



News Feature


Books & Arts


News & Views Forum

  • News & Views Forum |

    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

  • 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 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 |

    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 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 |

    Necrosis is associated with various diseases, yet it is arguably the least-understood form of programmed cell death. It emerges that a sirtuin protein regulates one form of necrosis through a deacetylation reaction. See Article p.199

    • Wen Zhou
    • Junying Yuan
  • News & Views |

    Single-molecule studies reveal that a ring-like enzyme that encircles and 'slides' along one strand of duplex DNA, separating it from the other strand, overcomes molecular barriers in its path by transiently opening its ring. See Article p.205

    • Michael A. Trakselis
    • Brian W. Graham
  • 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


  • Article |

    Here it is shown that the NAD-dependent deacetylase SIRT2 is an essential component of necrosis, and that mouse hearts that do not contain SIRT2 or that are treated with a pharmacological inhibitor of SIRT2 are largely protected from ischaemic injury.

    • Nisha Narayan
    • In Hye Lee
    • Toren Finkel
  • Article |

    Single-molecule and ensemble assays are used to show that large T antigen, the replicative DNA helicase of the simian virus 40 (SV40), unwinds DNA as a single hexamer by steric exclusion and is able to bypass covalent DNA–protein crosslinks.

    • Hasan Yardimci
    • Xindan Wang
    • Johannes C. Walter
  • Article |

    The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway transports folded proteins across membranes in bacteria and plant chloroplasts; the crystal structure of TatC, an integral membrane protein and core component of this complex, is now presented.

    • Sarah E. Rollauer
    • Michael J. Tarry
    • Susan M. Lea
  • Article |

    An automated approach designing drug ligands to multi-target profiles (with a 75% prediction success rate) is experimentally validated by the invention of novel ligands tailored to the complex and physiologically-relevant goal of identifying drugs that can specifically target profiles of multiple proteins.

    • Jérémy Besnard
    • Gian Filippo Ruda
    • Andrew L. Hopkins


  • Letter |

    An explanation for the formation of binary systems in which the components are extremely far apart is proposed: triple systems can break up and send one component far away by taking energy from the remaining binary, bringing the two stars so close together that from a distance they appear like one star.

    • Bo Reipurth
    • Seppo Mikkola
  • Letter |

    Fluorescence of iron ions induced by an X-ray laser allows the relative oscillator strength for Fe xvii emission to be determined; it is found to differ by 3.6σ from the best quantum mechanical calculations, suggesting that the poor agreement between prediction and observations of the brightest Fe xvii line is rooted in the quality of the underlying atomic wavefunctions used in the models.

    • S. Bernitt
    • G. V. Brown
    • J. R. Crespo López-Urrutia
  • Letter |

    A broadband, compact, all-electrically driven mid-infrared frequency comb based on a quantum cascade laser widens the scope of application of combs in this frequency range beyond that of sources which depend on a chain of optical components.

    • Andreas Hugi
    • Gustavo Villares
    • Jérôme Faist
  • Letter |

    A class of metal-free organic electroluminescent molecules is designed in which both singlet and triplet excitons contribute to light emission, leading to an intrinsic fluorescence efficiency greater than 90 per cent and an external electroluminescence efficiency comparable to that achieved in high-efficiency phosphorescence-based organic light-emitting diodes.

    • Hiroki Uoyama
    • Kenichi Goushi
    • Chihaya Adachi
  • Letter |

    Climate models predict that precipitation will increase in Antarctica, leading to potential ice mass gain and an offset to sea level rise, but here it is shown that enhanced snowfall on Antarctica is likely to increase ice discharge and thereby negate 30% to 65% of the snowfall-induced ice gain.

    • R. Winkelmann
    • A. Levermann
    • K. Frieler
  • Letter |

    Interleukin-1β-induced disruption to endothelial stability and vascular permeability in a human in vitro model is shown to be independent of downstream nuclear factor-κB activation, relying instead on a MYD88–ARNO–ARF6 signalling cascade; inhibiting proteins involved in this pathway is shown to improve outcomes in animal models of inflammatory disease.

    • Weiquan Zhu
    • Nyall R. London
    • Dean Y. Li
  • Letter |

    Single-molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques are used to elucidate features of the highly conserved protein-targeting machinery known as the signal recognition particle (SRP); the long SRP RNA is shown to be crucial for correct timing and precision of cargo handover to the protein-translocation machinery, a finding that could help to explain how other ribonucleosome complexes function during complex cellular processes.

    • Kuang Shen
    • Sinan Arslan
    • Shu-ou Shan
  • Letter |

    Two separate regulatory regions on the Drosophila chromatin remodeller ISWI are defined, AutoN and NegC, which negatively regulate ATP hydrolysis and the coupling of ATP hydrolysis to productive DNA translocation, respectively; epitopes on nucleosomes activate ISWI by inhibiting these negative regulatory domains, ensuring that remodelling occurs only in the appropriate chromatin context.

    • Cedric R. Clapier
    • Bradley R. Cairns


Technology Feature

  • Technology Feature |

    Using two different kinds of imaging can give scientists a powerful combination of high specificity and detailed structural information.

    • Caitlin Smith




Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    Swedish foundation offers 5-year fellowships for early-career scientists.

  • Career Brief |

    Tightened immigration controls may put graduate courses at risk.

  • Career Brief |

    NSF initiative sends research fellows overseas for collaborations.


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