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Volume 508 Issue 7495, 10 April 2014

Axonal projection patterns from 21 distinct cortical areas (differentially colour coded) derived from 21 mapping experiments to sample the entire cortex, and rendered in 3D by the Brain Explorer program. In this issue, Hongkui Zeng and colleagues present the first brain-wide, mesoscale connectome for a mammalian species � the laboratory mouse � based on cell-type-specific tracing of axonal projections. The wiring diagram of a complete nervous system has long been available for a small roundworm, but neuronal connectivity data for larger animals has been patchy until now. The new 3D Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas is a whole-brain connectivity matrix that will provide insights into how brain regions communicate. Much of the data generated in this project will be of relevance to investigations of neural networks in humans.


  • Editorial |

    The launch of the first Sentinel satellite heralds an era in which detailed data on everything from earthquakes to urbanization will be freely available to anyone interested in Earth’s future.

  • Editorial |

    Russia deserves to be sanctioned, but halting scientific collaboration is not the way to do it.

  • Editorial |

    Two Nature papers signal new roles for this ancient metal in catalysis and cancer therapy.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Chile hit by magnitude-8.2 quake; US unveils most accurate atomic clock; and European Parliament votes for clinical-trial transparency.



News Feature

  • News Feature |

    With the Ganges–Brahmaputra delta sinking, the race is on to protect millions of people from future flooding.

    • Quirin Schiermeier
  • News Feature |

    Biomathematician Steve Horvath has discovered a strikingly accurate way to measure human ageing through epigenetic signatures.

    • W. Wayt Gibbs


  • Comment |

    As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asks how its assessment process should evolve, Dave Griggs argues for decadal updates and eased workloads.

    • David Griggs
  • Comment |

    Costs of carbon emissions are being underestimated, but current estimates are still valuable for setting mitigation policy, say Richard L. Revesz and colleagues.

    • Richard L. Revesz
    • Peter H. Howard
    • Thomas Sterner

Spring Books



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A combination of laboratory experiments and modelling shows that diurnal temperature variations are the main cause of rock breakdown and the ensuing formation of powdery rubble on the surface of small asteroids. See Letter p.233

    • Heather A. Viles
  • News & Views |

    The MTH1 protein prevents oxidized nucleotides from being misincorporated into DNA. Two studies find that selective inhibition of MTH1 by small molecules suppresses tumour growth. See Articles p.215 & p.222

    • Dan Dominissini
    • Chuan He
  • News & Views |

    Africa had been thought to be a potentially large carbon sink — of great value in efforts to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. But an analysis now reveals that it could be a net source of greenhouse gases that will increase global warming.

    • Cheikh Mbow
  • News & Views |

    An enzyme that links two metabolic hubs has been found to be upregulated in the fat cells of overweight mice. Inhibition of the gene encoding this enzyme protects mice from diet-induced obesity. See Letter p.258

    • Charles Brenner
  • News & Views |

    A single atom in an optical cavity is shown to interact strongly with an incoming photon and to switch the photon's state. This finding opens up a path towards optical quantum computation and quantum networks. See Letters p.237 & p.241

    • Luming Duan
  • News & Views |

    The structure of a photosynthetic complex from a purple bacterium reveals a new class of light-harvesting protein and the channels that might allow electron-transporting molecules to escape this otherwise closed system. See Article p.228

    • Richard J. Cogdell
    • Aleksander W. Roszak


  • Article |

    A spatially resolved transcriptional atlas of the mid-gestational developing human brain has been created using laser-capture microdissection and microarray technology, providing a comprehensive reference resource which also enables new hypotheses about the nature of human brain evolution and the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders.

    • Jeremy A. Miller
    • Song-Lin Ding
    • Ed S. Lein
  • Article |

    In mouse, an axonal connectivity map showing the wiring patterns across the entire brain has been created using an EGFP-expressing adeno-associated virus tracing technique, providing the first such whole-brain map for a vertebrate species.

    • Seung Wook Oh
    • Julie A. Harris
    • Hongkui Zeng
  • Article |

    In order to find a general treatment for cancer, this study found that MTH1 activity is essential for the survival of transformed cells, and isolated two small-molecule inhibitors of MTH1, TH287 and TH588 — in the presence of these inhibitors, damaged nucleotides are incorporated into DNA only in cancer cells, causing cytotoxicity and eliciting a beneficial response in patient-derived mouse xenograft models.

    • Helge Gad
    • Tobias Koolmeister
    • Thomas Helleday
  • Article |

    A chemoproteomic screen is used here to identify MTH1 as the target of SCH51344, an experimental RAS-dependent cancer drug; a further search for inhibitors revealed (S)-crizotinib as a potent MTH1 antagonist, which suppresses tumour growth in animal models of colon cancer, and could be part of a new class of anticancer drugs.

    • Kilian V. M. Huber
    • Eidarus Salah
    • Giulio Superti-Furga
  • Article |

    The near-atomic-level structure of a complete bacterial light-harvesting antenna–reaction centre (LH1–RC) complex is described here; the structure reveals how energy is transferred from the LH1 to the RC in a highly efficient way and suggests how ubiquinone might cross a closed LH1 barrier.

    • Satomi Niwa
    • Long-Jiang Yu
    • Kunio Miki


  • Letter |

    Quantum gates — in which stationary quantum bits are combined with ‘flying’ quantum bits, that is, photons — will be essential in quantum networks; such a gate, between a laser-trapped atomic quantum bit and a single photon, is now reported.

    • Andreas Reiserer
    • Norbert Kalb
    • Stephan Ritter
  • Letter |

    Strongly coupling a photon to a single atom trapped in the near field of a nanoscale photonic crystal cavity results in a light switch which can be turned on and off with a single photon.

    • T. G. Tiecke
    • J. D. Thompson
    • M. D. Lukin
  • Letter |

    Three-dimensional dynamic computer models show how accretionary tectonic margins evolve from the initial plate-collision state, through a period of plate margin instability, and then re-establish a stable convergent margin; the models illustrate how significant curvature of the orogenic system develops, as well as the mechanism for tectonic escape of the back-arc region.

    • L. Moresi
    • P. G. Betts
    • R. A. Cayley
  • Letter |

    Epistasis has rarely been shown among natural polymorphisms in human traits; this research using advanced computation and gene expression data reveals many instances of epistasis between common single nucleotide polymorphisms in humans, with epistasis and the direction of its effect replicating in independent cohorts.

    • Gibran Hemani
    • Konstantin Shakhbazov
    • Joseph E. Powell
  • Letter |

    A local molecular clock approach shows that most genetic diversity in avian influenza virus (AIV) arose in a recent global sweep and that avian strains are the sister group to equine H7N7; most of the 1918 pandemic virus’s genes originated from the resulting western hemispheric AIV lineage.

    • Michael Worobey
    • Guan-Zhu Han
    • Andrew Rambaut
  • Letter |

    Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) expression is increased in white adipose tissue and liver of obese and diabetic mice, Nnmt knockdown protects against diet-induced obesity by altering the availability of adipose S-adenosylmethionine and NAD+, rendering Nnmt a novel target for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.

    • Daniel Kraus
    • Qin Yang
    • Barbara B. Kahn
  • Letter |

    Here, using two-photon phosphorescence lifetime microscopy, the local oxygen tension in the bone marrow of live mice is found to be quite low, with spatiotemporal variations depending on the blood vessel type, distance to the endosteum, and changes in cellularity after stress.

    • Joel A. Spencer
    • Francesca Ferraro
    • Charles P. Lin




  • Column |

    Researchers with product-worthy ideas can follow various, often under-appreciated, paths towards commercialization, says Peter Fiske.

    • Peter Fiske


  • Q&A |

    An atmospheric scientist plans to turn a network for female researchers into a non-profit organization.

    • Virginia Gewin

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    US postgraduate-student debt continues to escalate.

  • Career Brief |

    Australian researchers decry oppressive grant-application process.


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