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Volume 495 Issue 7440, 14 March 2013

The emerging pathogenic coronavirus hCoV-EMC, first identified in September 2012, has been fatal in about half of the few humans infected so far. Bart Haagmans and colleagues have now identified the receptor that this virus uses to infect cells. In contrast to the related virus SARS-CoV, which uses angiotensin converting enzyme 2, the functional receptor for hCoV-EMC is dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4, also known as CD26), an exopeptidase found on non-ciliated cells in the lower respiratory tract. This enzyme is highly conserved across different species, and hCoV-EMC can also use bat DPP4 as a functional receptor a possible clue as to the host range and epidemiological history of this new virus. The findings may also be important for the development of intervention strategies. The cover represents dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (red), the functional coronavirus-EMC receptor, on non-ciliated cells but not on ciliated cells (yellow) in primary bronchiolar epithelial cell cultures.


  • Editorial |

    There is a growing recognition that action must be taken to deal with the alarming rise in the incidence of bacteria resistant to today’s antibiotics, and its implications for global health.

  • Editorial |

    Although debate over scientific definitions is important, it risks obscuring the real issues.

  • Editorial |

    Educating patients is key, but the US National Cancer Institute must keep spending in check.

World View

  • World View |

    Self-criticism is a virtue seldom possessed by men, and never by the leaders of Western science, says Colin Macilwain.

    • Colin Macilwain

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Life found in Antarctica’s largest subglacial lake; Higgs still a standard boson; and trade protections agreed for endangered sharks.




News Feature


  • Comment |

    Fifty years after finding that these cosmic beacons lie far away, astronomers need to think harder about how they radiate so much energy, says Robert Antonucci.

    • Robert Antonucci
  • Comment |

    It is a mistake to dismiss the people and projects coming out of lesser-known institutions, argues Keith Weaver — they have strengths too.

    • Keith Weaver

Books & Arts


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The discovery that a new coronavirus associated with lethal respiratory infections binds to an evolutionarily conserved receptor on airway cells suggests that direct transmission from bats to humans may occur. See Letter p.251

    • Tom Gallagher
    • Stanley Perlman
  • News & Views |

    The composition of Earth's core may be easier to resolve than previously thought. Laboratory experiments strengthen the hypothesis that oxygen and silicon are the prime candidates for the light elements present in the outer core.

    • Lidunka Vočadlo
  • News & Views |

    Neurons use molecular motors to power the transport of cargoes along their axonal extensions. Fresh evidence challenges the view that cellular organelles called mitochondria are the main energy providers for this process.

    • Giampietro Schiavo
    • Mike Fainzilber
  • News & Views |

    A low-temperature synthesis has been developed to make single crystals of titanium dioxide that contain pores tens to hundreds of nanometres in size. This opens the way to cheap, highly efficient optoelectronic devices. See Letter p.215

    • Caterina Ducati
  • News & Views |

    Epigenetic changes to the genome can have heritable effects. An epigenome-wide study of wild plants identifies shared patterns of such modifications and their associations with genetic information. See Article p.193

    • Steven Eichten
    • Justin Borevitz
  • News & Views |

    Whether ovarian cancer originates in the ovary or the surrounding tissues is a focus of debate. Work in mice now shows that stem cells that replenish the ovarian surface epithelium can be the initiators of this cancer. See Letter p.241

    • James D. Brenton
    • John Stingl
  • News & Views |

    A type of data-acquisition sequence in magnetic resonance imaging has been developed that rapidly and robustly quantifies properties of imaged tissue by elucidating a characteristic signal fingerprint. See Article p.187

    • E. Brian Welch


  • Article |

    A new approach to magnetic resonance, ‘magnetic resonance fingerprinting', is reported, which combines a data acquisition scheme with a pattern-recognition algorithm that looks for the ‘fingerprints’ of interest within the data.

    • Dan Ma
    • Vikas Gulani
    • Mark A. Griswold
  • Article | | Open Access

    A population epigenomic analysis of wild Arabidopsis thaliana accessions is presented, obtained by sequencing their whole genomes, methylomes and transcriptomes; thousands of DNA methylation variants are identified, some of which are associated with methylation quantitative trait loci.

    • Robert J. Schmitz
    • Matthew D. Schultz
    • Joseph R. Ecker
  • Article |

    Intracellular membrane potential changes are measured directly in mouse grid cells during navigation along linear tracks in virtual reality; the recordings reveal that slow ramps of depolarization are the sub-threshold signatures of firing fields, as in attractor network models of grid cells, whereas theta oscillations pace action potential timing.

    • Cristina Domnisoru
    • Amina A. Kinkhabwala
    • David W. Tank




Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    Australian government will take measures to attract international science talent.

  • Career Brief |

    US universities' top administrative posts got median increase above inflation for 2012.


  • Futures |

    After the plague.

    • Andrew David Thaler


  • Outlook |

    • Herb Brody
  • Outlook |

    Throughout history, gold has been prized around the world and eagerly sought. But where does it come from, and where does it all go? By Neil Savage.

    • Neil Savage
  • Outlook |

    High gold prices are making it worthwhile to look for gold in some unusual places.

    • Brian Owens
  • Outlook |

    The same property that gives stained glass windows their sublime beauty is being crafted in the latest nanophotonic technologies, says Anatoly V. Zayats.

    • Anatoly V. Zayats
  • Outlook |

    Invisibly small particles of gold can be used to manipulate the properties of light.

    • Neil Savage
  • Outlook |

    Gold can speed up a multitude of chemical reactions — so why isn't it widely used in industry?

    • Mark Peplow
  • Outlook |

    Prized for their versatility, optical properties and safety, gold nanoparticles are helping to image, diagnose and treat disease.

    • Karen Weintraub

Nature Outlook

  • Nature Outlook |


    Prized since antiquity for its beauty and stability, gold is becoming a darling of the nanotechnology age. Gold nanoparticles can help pinpoint a tumour — and then carry drugs to it. It also holds promise for making extremely efficient solar cells, among other photonic applications. Nature Outlook: Goldreports on what's driving the twenty-first-century gold rush.

Nature Briefing

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