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Volume 507 Issue 7492, 20 March 2014

The motion-detecting cells of the retina, called direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs), have been known about and studied for more than half a century but their precise role in visual processing has remained unclear. Using a combination of genetic, anatomical and imaging techniques, Andrew Huberman and colleagues investigate the connections made by DSGCs in the mouse brain and find that they link specifically to neurons in the superficial layers of primary visual cortex. Inputs from several different DSGC types are combined to convey both directional and orientation information to the cortex. In addition, non-direction-tuned information from the retina is sent to deeper layers of cortex. This reveals that the mouse visual system contains several functionally distinct parallel pathways and that directional and orientation selectivity in the cortex may arise from the earliest stages of visual processing involving motion-detecting cells in the retina. Cover: Kelly Krause/Nature � Santiago Cornejo/Shutterstock


  • Editorial |

    A focus on specific biological targets rather than constellations of symptoms heralds a more scientific approach to the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

  • Editorial |

    The success of the $1,000 genome programme offers lessons for fostering innovation.

  • Editorial |

    The recent Nature PastCast series is instructive as well as entertaining.

World View

  • World View |

    A mild-mannered man’s fiery resignation leaves a troubling vacancy at the world’s largest office for investigating scientific fraud, says Colin Macilwain.

    • Colin Macilwain

Research Highlights

Seven Days


News Feature

  • News Feature |

    Deep brain stimulation has shown promise in treating conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Now scientists are using the technology to eavesdrop on problem neural circuits.

    • Helen Shen


  • News Feature |

    With a unique programme, the US government has managed to drive the cost of genome sequencing down towards a much-anticipated target.

    • Erika Check Hayden


Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Richard G. Roberts is intrigued by the idea that early humans gained an edge by 'hunting' for lakes and rivers.

    • Richard G. Roberts
  • Books & Arts |

    Daniel Cressey views the British Library's first science exhibition — a celebration of scientific illustration.

    • Daniel Cressey


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Electrons in Earth's magnetic field often exhibit a striped pattern of intensity as a function of electron energy and altitude. A model that factors in some unexpectedly important effects can now explain this feature. See Letter p.338

    • Drew L. Turner
  • News & Views |

    Genetic variation in a non-protein-coding region of the gene FTO is implicated in obesity. A study finds evidence that, rather than affecting FTO itself, variations in this region influence expression of a distant gene, IRX3. See Letter p.371

    • David U. Gorkin
    • Bing Ren
  • News & Views |

    The first implementation of a fully photonics-based coherent radar system shows how photonic methods for radio-frequency signal generation and measurement may facilitate the development of software-defined radar systems. See Letter p.341

    • Jason D. McKinney
  • News & Views |

    During the cell-death program known as apoptosis, cells break up into membrane-bound fragments. It emerges that this process is controlled by the protein pannexin 1 and can be deregulated by an antibiotic. See Article p.329

    • Christopher D. Gregory
  • News & Views |

    The identification of specialized endothelial-cell populations in the blood vessels of bones, and their signalling pathways, reveals how the vasculature contributes to bone formation. See Article p.323 & Letter p.376

    • Ferdinand le Noble
    • Jos le Noble


  • Article | | Open Access

    This paper reports integrative molecular analyses of urothelial bladder carcinoma at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels performed as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas project; recurrent mutations were found in 32 genes, including those involved in cell-cycle regulation, chromatin regulation and kinase signalling pathways; chromatin regulatory genes were more frequently mutated in urothelial carcinoma than in any other common cancer studied so far.

    • John N. Weinstein
    • Rehan Akbani
    • Greg Eley
  • Article |

    Bone homeostasis and repair declines with ageing and the mechanisms regulating the relationship between bone growth and blood vessel formation have remained unknown; this mouse study identifies the endothelial cells that promote the formation of new bone, a small microvessel subtype that can be identified by high CD31 and high Emcn expression.

    • Anjali P. Kusumbe
    • Saravana K. Ramasamy
    • Ralf H. Adams
  • Article |

    The pannexin 1 channel on the plasma membrane of apoptotic cells mediates the release of find-me molecular signals to attract phagocytic cells for clearance of the apoptotic cells; here the quinolone antibiotic trovafloxacin is identified as a direct inhibitor of pannexin 1, which results in dysregulated fragmentation of apoptotic cells and may partly explain quinolone toxicity.

    • Ivan K. H. Poon
    • Yu-Hsin Chiu
    • Kodi S. Ravichandran


  • Letter |

    At the lowest galactic mass scales, evidence of a merger between two galaxies is provided by the kinematic detection of a stellar stream — indicative of an accretion event — in the dwarf spheroidal galaxy Andromeda II, one of the satellite galaxies of Andromeda.

    • N. C. Amorisco
    • N. W. Evans
    • G. van de Ven
  • Letter |

    The next generation of radar systems must be photonic to obtain frequency flexibility and improved performance; here both generation and detection of radio signals are demonstrated in a successful field trial of a photonic-based radar system using aeroplanes.

    • Paolo Ghelfi
    • Francesco Laghezza
    • Antonella Bogoni
  • Letter |

    Sulphide oxidation coupled to carbonate dissolution can provide a transient source of carbon dioxide to Earth’s atmosphere and so balance the Cenozoic increase in carbon dioxide consumption by silicate weathering, reconciling this increase with the need for mass balance in the long-term carbon cycle.

    • Mark A. Torres
    • A. Joshua West
    • Gaojun Li
  • Letter |

    Sampling of extant and fossil amniotes reveals that the diversity of melanosome morphologies increased sharply around the time of the origin of pinnate feathers in maniraptoran dinosaurs (the lineage leading to birds) and independently in mammals; lizard, turtle and crocodilian skin as well as archosaur filamentous body covering shows a limited diversity of melanosome forms, a pattern consistent with convergent changes in the melanocortin system of endothermic animals.

    • Quanguo Li
    • Julia A. Clarke
    • Matthew D. Shawkey
  • Letter |

    In the modern human genome, elevated Neanderthal ancestry is found at genes affecting keratin filaments, suggesting that gene flow with Neanderthals helped modern humans to adapt to non-African environments; deficiencies of Neanderthal ancestry are also found, particularly on the X chromosome and in genes expressed highly in testes, suggesting that some Neanderthal mutations were not tolerated on a modern human genetic background as they reduced male fertility.

    • Sriram Sankararaman
    • Swapan Mallick
    • David Reich


  • Letter |

    B cells can secrete IL-35 upon activation, and subsequently contribute negatively to the regulation of immunity, such as T-cell-mediated autoimmunity or anti-microbial immunity, and a characterization of these cells raises new questions about possible independent roles for IL-10- and IL-35-expressing plasma cells as regulatory cells.

    • Ping Shen
    • Toralf Roch
    • Simon Fillatreau
  • Letter |

    Obesity-associated noncoding sequences within FTO are functionally connected with IRX3, and long-range enhancers in this region recapitulate aspects of IRX3 expression, suggesting that the obesity-associated interval is part of IRX3 regulation; Irx3-deficient mice have lower body weight and are resistant to diet-induced obesity, suggesting IRX3 as a novel determinant of body mass and composition.

    • Scott Smemo
    • Juan J. Tena
    • Marcelo A. Nóbrega




  • Feature |

    Mistakes are part of science. But setting the record straight promptly and clearly can help to avoid a career blot.

    • Virginia Gewin


  • Column |

    Graduate students face myriad financial challenges — some more obvious than others, says Susie Crowe.

    • Susie Crowe


  • Futures |

    Paradise revamped.

    • Ian Stewart
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