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Volume 500 Issue 7460, 1 August 2013

Cell competition is a homeostasis mechanism, first observed in Drosophila, in which viable but suboptimal cells are eliminated from metazoan tissues. Its biological role is not clear but now Miguel Torres and colleagues demonstrate the phenomenon in action in mammalian tissue for the first time, and suggest a possible function. The authors use an in vivo genetic approach to generate mosaic expression of Myc protein in the mouse epiblast � the embryonic tissue that contains the pluripotent stem cells that generate the whole embryo. They show that cell competition is promoted by a naturally occurring imbalance in Myc dose between neighbouring cells, and demonstrate the elimination of cells with low relative Myc levels through apoptosis. These findings suggest a role for cell competition in the optimization of the epiblast stem cell pool. The cover represents fluorescence-based detection of a cell population shift in embryos undergoing increasing levels of cell competition, from left to right.


  • Editorial |

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been buoyed by election success, but he must show that his science policies take the opinions of researchers into account.

  • Editorial |

    Inconsistent standards and a lack of research investment have left UK legal science in chaos.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    This week in science: NASA solar observatory releases first images, European food-safety head resigns, and pioneering sex researcher dies.


News Feature

  • News Feature |

    When a single genetic mutation first let ancient Europeans drink milk, it set the stage for a continental upheaval.

    • Andrew Curry


  • Comment |

    Male and female cells can behave differently — it is time that researchers, journals and funders took this seriously, says Elizabeth Pollitzer.

    • Elizabeth Pollitzer

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Edward Humes explores a study of the psychological dissociation plaguing our relationship with nature.

    • Edward Humes
  • Books & Arts |

    Gene Russo surveys a high-tech exhibition celebrating the double helix and the human genome sequence.

    • Gene Russo



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Data from three teams show that alteration of a single cell-signalling mechanism can unlock the latent head-regeneration potential in normally regeneration-deficient species of flatworm. See Letters p.73 , p.77 & p.81

    • András Simon
  • News & Views |

    Innovative measurements of ocean turbulence show that mixing of cold water from below makes the surface of the equatorial Pacific much colder in September than in March. See Letter p.64

    • Shang-Ping Xie
  • News & Views |

    The gene variant APOE4 is the most common genetic risk factor associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease. A comprehensive, multilayer study reveals the molecular and cellular signatures of APOE4 in humans. See Article p.45

    • Vivek Swarup
    • Daniel H. Geschwind
  • News & Views |

    Nanometre-scale thermometers that operate with millikelvin sensitivity have now been made from diamond crystals. The devices have been used to measure temperature gradients in living cells. See Letter p.54

    • Konstantin Sokolov
  • News & Views |

    Metastatic tumour cells often remain dormant for years. New findings suggest that endothelial cells lining blood vessels have a central role in regulating the transition from dormancy to metastatic growth.

    • Neta Erez


  • Article |

    An in vivo genetic approach to generate mosaic expression of Myc in the mouse epiblast reveals evidence of cell competition, a tissue homeostasis mechanism first described in Drosophila by which viable but suboptimal cells are eliminated from metazoan tissues; during normal development Myc expression levels in the epiblast are heterogeneous, and endogenous cell competition refines the epiblast cell population through the apoptotic elimination of cells with low relative Myc levels.

    • Cristina Clavería
    • Giovanna Giovinazzo
    • Miguel Torres
  • Article |

    Whole transcriptome differential gene co-expression correlation analysis of cerebral cortex of APOE ε4 allele carriers and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease patients reveals an APOE ε4 carrier transcription network pattern that resembles that of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and also identifies new genes of interest for further study.

    • Herve Rhinn
    • Ryousuke Fujita
    • Asa Abeliovich


  • Letter |

    A nanoscale thermometry technique that uses coherent manipulation of the electronic spin associated with nitrogen–vacancy colour centres in diamond makes it possible to detect temperature variations as small as 1.8 millikelvin in ultrapure samples and to control and map temperature gradients within living cells.

    • G. Kucsko
    • P. C. Maurer
    • M. D. Lukin
  • Letter |

    Stretchable conductors have many applications, from flexible electronics to medical implants; here polyurethane is filled with gold nanoparticles to give a composite with tunable viscoelastic properties arising from the dynamic self-organization of the nanoparticles under stress.

    • Yoonseob Kim
    • Jian Zhu
    • Nicholas A. Kotov
  • Letter |

    More than a century ago, Thomas Hunt Morgan attempted to explain the extraordinary regenerative ability of planarians such as Dugesia japonica, which can regenerate a complete individual even from a tail fragment, by proposing that two opposing morphogenetic gradients along the anterior–posterior axis are required for regeneration; here ERK and β-catenin signalling are shown to form these gradients.

    • Yoshihiko Umesono
    • Junichi Tasaki
    • Kiyokazu Agata
  • Letter |

    Although the capacity for tissue regeneration of planarians is exceptional, planarians with more limited regenerative capacities are known; this study of Procotyla fluviatilis, a planarian with restricted ability to replace missing tissues, shows that Wnt signalling is aberrantly regulated in regeneration-deficient tissues and that downregulation of Wnt signalling in these regions restores regenerative abilities, revealing that manipulating a single signalling pathway can reverse the evolutionary loss of regenerative potential.

    • James M. Sikes
    • Phillip A. Newmark
  • Letter |

    Although the capacity for tissue regeneration of planarians is exceptional, planarians with more limited regenerative capacities are known; here knocking down components of the Wnt signalling pathway rescues head regeneration in the regeneration-impaired planarian Dendrocoelum lacteum, revealing that manipulating a single signalling pathway can reverse the evolutionary loss of regenerative potential.

    • S.-Y. Liu
    • C. Selck
    • J. C. Rink
  • Letter |

    The first inhibitor-bound X-ray crystal structures of the bacterial multidrug efflux transporter AcrB and its homologue MexB are presented, with the inhibitor shown to bind the transporter through a narrow hydrophobic pit, thereby preventing rotation of AcrB and MexB monomers.

    • Ryosuke Nakashima
    • Keisuke Sakurai
    • Akihito Yamaguchi



  • Column |

    Scientists have to promote their work. But they should fight the pull to oversell it, says Monika Maleszewska.

    • Monika Maleszewska

Career Brief


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