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Volume 497 Issue 7451, 30 May 2013

An atomic model of the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) capsid with hexameric (gold) and pentameric (green) assembly units, within a representation of the viral envelope. HIV-1, the predominant AIDS virus, contains a spheroidal capsid enclosing the viral RNA genome. As the retrovirus matures, the capsid forms through spontaneous oligomerization of the capsid protein CA. Using cryo-electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography, combined with all-atom large-scale molecular dynamics simulations, Gongpu Zhao et al. have determined a complete atomic structure of the HIV-1 capsid. The resulting structural models reveal elements that are essential for capsid formation, stability and viral infectivity. Of special interest are the hydrophobic interactions evident in a novel three-fold interface between the carboxy-terminal domains of CA protein, a feature that appears to be unique to the mature capsid and which has previously been suggested as a potentially attractive therapeutic target. Credit: Juan R. Perilla, John Stone, Ilia A. Solov'yov, Olga Svinarski, Klaus Schulten and Peijun Zhang.


  • Editorial |

    Despite the small number of entries, the genomics X prize is to be commended for attempting to push the boundaries of DNA sequencing technology.

  • Editorial |

    Japan’s government must stick by its promise to help women’s careers to prosper.

  • Editorial |

    Increasing scientific globalization is welcome, but could compromise national efforts.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Spanish scientists rise against budget cuts, US submersible returns to research, and Shaw prizes announced.



News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Karl Deisseroth is leaving his mark on brain science one technique at a time.

    • Kerri Smith
  • News Feature |

    The Hubble Space Telescope is giving astronomers a glimpse of the Universe's first, tumultuous era of galaxy formation.

    • Ron Cowen


  • Comment |

    Jonathan Adams analyses papers from the past three decades and finds that the best science comes from international collaboration.

    • Jonathan Adams
  • Comment |

    Efforts to improve street lights are providing a rare opportunity to cut both financial and environmental costs, argues Kevin Gaston.

    • Kevin J. Gaston

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Patrick McCray assesses a biography of Nikola Tesla, the Serbian wizard of the alternating current.

    • W. Patrick McCray
  • Books & Arts |

    Marek Kukula is public astronomer at London's Royal Observatory in Greenwich and the curator of Visions of the Universe, an exhibition charting the trajectory of celestial imaging, with a focus on astrophotography. On the eve of its opening, Kukula talks about eighteenth-century star maps and the co-evolution of the telescope and camera.

    • Daniel Cressey


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The brain's hippocampus contains place cells, which encode an animal's specific location. The finding that hippocampal neurons may also respond to time could provide information on the coding of episodic memories.

    • György Buzsáki
  • News & Views |

    The first published whole-genome draft sequence of a gymnosperm, the Norway spruce, provides a powerful platform for studying the unique development, adaptation and evolution of this major group of plants. See Article p.579

    • Ronald Sederoff
  • News & Views |

    A simple model shows that a rocky planet close to its star may solidify so slowly that its water is lost to space and the planet becomes desiccated, whereas a planet farther out may solidify quickly and retain its water. See Letter p.607

    • Linda T. Elkins-Tanton
  • News & Views |

    The first synthetic genetic circuits to use analog computation have been developed. These circuits involve fewer components and resources, and can execute more complex operations, than their digital counterparts. See Letter p.619

    • Herbert M. Sauro
    • Kyung Kim
  • News & Views |

    Extensive studies of fossil skeletons of Australopithecus sediba provide fascinating details of the anatomy of this hominin species, but do not convincingly indicate its position on the evolutionary route to modern humans.

    • William H. Kimbel


  • News & Views |

    Hundreds of neutron stars have exhibited 'glitches' in their spin-down rates — an indication of ultra-dense superfluids in their interiors. Now one highly magnetized star has shown a surprising glitch in the 'wrong' direction. See Letter p.591

    • Robert C. Duncan
  • News & Views |

    The enzyme Ubc9 mediates attachment of the small modifier protein SUMO to target proteins. It emerges that for optimal functioning — and for proper meiotic cell division — Ubc9 itself must be modified by SUMO.

    • Mary Dasso
  • News & Views |

    Scientists have long aimed to develop drugs against the cancer-associated protein KRAS, but without success. An approach that targets the oncoprotein's cellular localization reignites lost enthusiasm. See Letter p.638

    • Nicole M. Baker
    • Channing J. Der


  • Article | | Open Access

    The draft genome of the Norway spruce (P. abies) is presented; this is the first gymnosperm genome to be sequenced and reveals a large genome size (20 Gb) resulting from the accumulation of transposable elements, and comparative sequencing of five other gymnosperm genomes provides insights into conifer genome evolution.

    • Björn Nystedt
    • Nathaniel R. Street
    • Stefan Jansson
  • Article |

    When an animal is performing a cognitive task, individual neurons in the prefrontal cortex show a mixture of responses that is often difficult to decipher and interpret; here new computational methods to decode and extract rich sets of information from these neural responses are revealed and demonstrate how this mixed selectivity offers a computational advantage over specialized cells.

    • Mattia Rigotti
    • Omri Barak
    • Stefano Fusi


  • Letter |

    Magnetars sometimes exhibit mysterious ‘glitches’, during which angular momentum is transferred between the star’s outer and inner crusts, and involving a sudden spin-up of the star; here X-ray timing observations reveal a sudden spin-down, or ‘anti-glitch’ in a magnetar.

    • R. F. Archibald
    • V. M. Kaspi
    • J. A. Kennea
  • Letter |

    Placing graphene on a boron nitride substrate and accurately aligning their crystallographic axes, to form a moiré superlattice, leads to profound changes in the graphene’s electronic spectrum.

    • L. A. Ponomarenko
    • R. V. Gorbachev
    • A. K. Geim
  • Letter |

    Terrestrial planets can be divided into two distinct types on the basis of their evolutionary history during solidification from their initial molten state: type I planets (such as Earth) solidify within several million years and retain most of their water, and type II planets (possibly such as Venus), formed inside a critical distance, are desiccated by hydrodynamic escape.

    • Keiko Hamano
    • Yutaka Abe
    • Hidenori Genda
  • Letter |

    Molecular evidence suggests that the evolutionary split between hominoids and cercopithecoids occurred between 25 and 30 Myr ago, but fossil evidence for crown-group catarrhines (cercopithecoids and hominoids) before 20 Myr ago has been lacking; newly described fossils of a stem hominoid and a stem cercopithecoid precisely dated to 25.2 Myr ago help to fill this gap in the fossil record.

    • Nancy J. Stevens
    • Erik R. Seiffert
    • Joseph Temu
  • Letter |

    Two decades of summer warming in an Alaskan tundra ecosystem increased plant biomass and woody dominance, indirectly increased winter soil temperature, homogenized the soil trophic structure and suppressed surface-soil-decomposer activity, but did not change net soil carbon or nitrogen storage.

    • Seeta A. Sistla
    • John C. Moore
    • Joshua P. Schimel
  • Letter |

    Synthetic analog gene circuits can be engineered to execute logarithmically linear sensing, addition, ratiometric and power-law computations in living cells using just three transcription factors.

    • Ramiz Daniel
    • Jacob R. Rubens
    • Timothy K. Lu
  • Letter |

    Mutations in the subunits of BAF chromatin-remodelling complexes are frequently found in human cancer; here deletion of BAF subunits or expression of mutants of the ATPase subunit BRG1 attenuates genome-wide binding of topoisomerase IIα, resulting in tangled chromosomes, anaphase bridges and G2/M arrest.

    • Emily C. Dykhuizen
    • Diana C. Hargreaves
    • Gerald R. Crabtree
  • Letter |

    This study uses single-cell real-time imaging to show that sonic hedgehog (SHH) is produced in the form of a particle that is transported along a novel class of specialized actin-based filopodia spanning several cell diameters within the field of SHH cell signalling, thus expanding our knowledge of ligand movement during normal vertebrate development.

    • Timothy A. Sanders
    • Esther Llagostera
    • Maria Barna
  • Letter |

    KRAS is one of the most frequently mutated oncogenes and a major target in anticancer drug discovery, but small molecule modulators that work in the clinic have been elusive; here a new approach to target KRAS is described, based on interfering with its binding to the prenyl-binding protein PDEδ.

    • Gunther Zimmermann
    • Björn Papke
    • Herbert Waldmann
  • Letter |

    Cellular nitrite is rapidly removed from the cell to prevent formation of the cytotoxic nitric oxide; here the X-ray crystal structure of NarK, a bacterial nitrate/nitrite transport protein, is determined with and without substrate.

    • Hongjin Zheng
    • Goragot Wisedchaisri
    • Tamir Gonen




  • Feature |

    Research-tool developers must be creative, innovative and willing to collaborate with people from a variety of fields.

    • Kelly Rae Chi

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    US National Research Council starts work on safety recommendations.

  • Career Brief |

    Highly corrupt nations lose benefits of scientific research, according to study.

  • Career Brief |

    Swindlers tell international trainees to pay a fine or face deportation.


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