Volume 531 Issue 7596, 31 March 2016

A Landsat 8 natural-colour mosaic of the ice cliff at the terminus of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica on 9 January 2016. Robert DeConto and David Pollard use a newly improved numerical ice-sheet model calibrated to Pliocene and last interglacial sea-level estimates to develop projections of Antarctica’s evolution over the next five centuries, driven by a range of greenhouse gas scenarios. The modelling shows that the Antarctic ice sheet has the potential to contribute between almost nothing, to contributing more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500. The startling high-end estimate arises from unabated emissions and previously underappreciated mechanisms: ice-fracturing by surface meltwater and collapse of large ice cliffs. The low end shows that a scenario of strong climate mitigation can radically reduce societal exposure to higher sea levels. Cover: Knut Christianson, using data available from the US Geological Survey.

This Week

News In Focus




  • Futures

  • Futures |

    Online chat.

    • Paul Currion


    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Organelles called primary cilia that protrude from cells have been thought to sense the surrounding environment through calcium-channel proteins that respond to force. Two scientists discuss the implications for developmental biology and kidney disease of a study that challenges this hypothesis. See Letter p.656

    • Dominic P. Norris
    •  & Peter K. Jackson
  • News & Views |

    Increasing cholesterol levels in the cell membranes of killer T cells boosts the cells' ability to mount an immune response against tumour cells in mice. Such a strategy might be valuable in anticancer immunotherapies. See Letter p.651

    • Michael L. Dustin
  • News & Views |

    Gravimeters have applications ranging from oil exploration to the detection of underground tunnels, but size and lack of portability have limited their field use. A device the size of a postage stamp promises fresh opportunities. See Letter p.614

    • Hazel Rymer
  • News & Views |

    Lack of the protein IRP2 in mice prevents organelles called mitochondria from accumulating toxic levels of iron in response to smoke exposure. This discovery links environmental and genetic risk factors for a chronic lung disease.

    • Thomas J. Mariani
  • News & Views |

    Processes such as photosynthesis depend on the interplay between the electric dipoles of chromophore molecules. Yet these dipole–dipole interactions have not been visualized at the atomic level — until now. See Letter p.623

    • Guillaume Schull
  • News & Views |

    In rats, individual differences in risk preference and in sensitivity to gains compared with losses are controlled by a specific neuronal population, stimulation of which neutralizes risk-seeking behaviour. See Letter p.642

    • Nick G. Hollon
    •  & Paul E. M. Phillips
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Climate and ice-sheet modelling that includes ice fracture dynamics reveals that Antarctica could contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 13 metres by 2500, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

    • Robert M. DeConto
    •  & David Pollard
  • Article |

    Much of the intracellular protein degradation in eukaryotes is controlled by cullin–RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs), a vast class of enzymes which are regulated by the COP9 signalosome (CSN); structural characterization of CSN–N8CRL4A complexes by cryo-electron microscopy reveals an induced-fit mechanism of CSN activation triggered only by catalytically activated CRLs without bound substrate, explaining how CSN acts as a global regulator of CRLs.

    • Simone Cavadini
    • , Eric S. Fischer
    • , Richard D. Bunker
    • , Alessandro Potenza
    • , Gondichatnahalli M. Lingaraju
    • , Kenneth N. Goldie
    • , Weaam I. Mohamed
    • , Mahamadou Faty
    • , Georg Petzold
    • , Rohan E. J. Beckwith
    • , Ritesh B. Tichkule
    • , Ulrich Hassiepen
    • , Wassim Abdulrahman
    • , Radosav S. Pantelic
    • , Syota Matsumoto
    • , Kaoru Sugasawa
    • , Henning Stahlberg
    •  & Nicolas H. Thomä
  • Letters

  • Letter |

    It has long been debated whether elements heavier than zinc are formed continually, for example in core-collapse supernovae, or in rare events, such as neutron star mergers; here, studies of element abundances in a local ultrafaint dwarf galaxy provide evidence that these elements are formed during rare yet prolific stellar events.

    • Alexander P. Ji
    • , Anna Frebel
    • , Anirudh Chiti
    •  & Joshua D. Simon
  • Letter |

    A light-weight, low-cost microelectromechanical system gravimeter is presented with sensitivity and stability high enough to measure the elastic deformation of the Earth’s crust as a result of tidal forces, enabling many applications.

    • R. P. Middlemiss
    • , A. Samarelli
    • , D. J. Paul
    • , J. Hough
    • , S. Rowan
    •  & G. D. Hammond
  • Letter |

    A combined experimental and theoretical investigation of phononic properties in nanocrystal-based semiconductors reveals that unusually strong coupling between phonons and electrons originates from the mechanical softness of the surfaces of the nanocrystalline domains and sheds new light on their recombination in nanocrystal-based devices.

    • Deniz Bozyigit
    • , Nuri Yazdani
    • , Maksym Yarema
    • , Olesya Yarema
    • , Weyde Matteo Mario Lin
    • , Sebastian Volk
    • , Kantawong Vuttivorakulchai
    • , Mathieu Luisier
    • , Fanni Juranyi
    •  & Vanessa Wood
  • Letter |

    Luminescence induced by highly localized excitations that are produced by electrons tunnelling from the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope is used to map the spatial distribution of the excitonic coupling in well-defined arrangements of a few zinc-phthalocyanine molecules and the dependence of this spatial distribution on the relative orientation and phase of the transition dipoles of the individual molecules.

    • Yang Zhang
    • , Yang Luo
    • , Yao Zhang
    • , Yun-Jie Yu
    • , Yan-Min Kuang
    • , Li Zhang
    • , Qiu-Shi Meng
    • , Yi Luo
    • , Jin-Long Yang
    • , Zhen-Chao Dong
    •  & J. G. Hou
  • Letter |

    Archaean komatiites are shown to originate in hot mantle plumes that entrained hydrous material from deep in the mantle.

    • Alexander V. Sobolev
    • , Evgeny V. Asafov
    • , Andrey A. Gurenko
    • , Nicholas T. Arndt
    • , Valentina G. Batanova
    • , Maxim V. Portnyagin
    • , Dieter Garbe-Schönberg
    •  & Stepan P. Krasheninnikov
  • Letter |

    Acclimation of leaf respiration to a 3–5-year period of warming by 3.4 °C for 10 North American tree species in forest conditions eliminated 80% of the increase in leaf respiration expected of non-acclimated trees; this suggests that the increase in respiration rates of terrestrial plants from climate warming, and the associated increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, may be less than anticipated.

    • Peter B. Reich
    • , Kerrie M. Sendall
    • , Artur Stefanski
    • , Xiaorong Wei
    • , Roy L. Rich
    •  & Rebecca A. Montgomery
  • Letter |

    Embryos in a particular phylum of the animal kingdom tend to most resemble one another at a stage in the middle of embryogenesis known as the phylotypic period; a transcriptional analysis of embryogenesis from single embryos of ten different phyla reveals that the transcripts expressed at the phylotypic stage (or mid-developmental transition) differ greatly between phyla, and a ‘phylum’ may be defined as a set of species sharing the same signals and transcription factor networks during the mid-developmental transition.

    • Michal Levin
    • , Leon Anavy
    • , Alison G. Cole
    • , Eitan Winter
    • , Natalia Mostov
    • , Sally Khair
    • , Naftalie Senderovich
    • , Ekaterina Kovalev
    • , David H. Silver
    • , Martin Feder
    • , Selene L. Fernandez-Valverde
    • , Nagayasu Nakanishi
    • , David Simmons
    • , Oleg Simakov
    • , Tomas Larsson
    • , Shang-Yun Liu
    • , Ayelet Jerafi-Vider
    • , Karina Yaniv
    • , Joseph F. Ryan
    • , Mark Q. Martindale
    • , Jochen C. Rink
    • , Detlev Arendt
    • , Sandie M. Degnan
    • , Bernard M. Degnan
    • , Tamar Hashimshony
    •  & Itai Yanai
  • Letter |

    Increased activity of dopamine receptor type-2 (D2R)-expressing cells in the nucleus accumbens of rats during a ‘decision’ period reflects a ‘loss’ outcome of the previous decision and predicts a subsequent safe choice; by artificially increasing the activity of D2R neurons during the decision period, risk-seeking rats could be converted to risk-avoiding rats.

    • Kelly A. Zalocusky
    • , Charu Ramakrishnan
    • , Talia N. Lerner
    • , Thomas J. Davidson
    • , Brian Knutson
    •  & Karl Deisseroth
  • Letter |

    Activation of glucose-sensing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus using radio waves or magnetic fields remotely and non-invasively in vivo increases plasma glucose and glucagon, and suppresses plasma insulin; conversely, remote inhibition of glucose-sensing neurons decreased blood glucose and increased plasma insulin.

    • Sarah A. Stanley
    • , Leah Kelly
    • , Kaamashri N. Latcha
    • , Sarah F. Schmidt
    • , Xiaofei Yu
    • , Alexander R. Nectow
    • , Jeremy Sauer
    • , Jonathan P. Dyke
    • , Jonathan S. Dordick
    •  & Jeffrey M. Friedman
  • Letter |

    Modulating cholesterol metabolism can improve CD8+ T-cell-mediated immunity against tumours; genetic or pharmacological inhibition of the cholesterol esterification enzyme ACAT1 led to higher plasma membrane cholesterol levels, better T-cell receptor clustering and signalling, improved immunological synapse maturation, and enhanced antitumour activity in mice.

    • Wei Yang
    • , Yibing Bai
    • , Ying Xiong
    • , Jin Zhang
    • , Shuokai Chen
    • , Xiaojun Zheng
    • , Xiangbo Meng
    • , Lunyi Li
    • , Jing Wang
    • , Chenguang Xu
    • , Chengsong Yan
    • , Lijuan Wang
    • , Catharine C. Y. Chang
    • , Ta-Yuan Chang
    • , Ti Zhang
    • , Penghui Zhou
    • , Bao-Liang Song
    • , Wanli Liu
    • , Shao-cong Sun
    • , Xiaolong Liu
    • , Bo-liang Li
    •  & Chenqi Xu
  • Letter |

    A series of FRET-based β-arrestin2 biosensors are used to study the dynamics and conformational changes that occur when β-arrestin2 binds to and dissociates from the β2-adrenergic receptor in living cells; results show that after β-arrestin2 dissociates from the β2-adrenergic receptor, it stays at the cell membrane in an active conformation for a while, indicating that β-arrestin is able to signal in a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-free state.

    • Susanne Nuber
    • , Ulrike Zabel
    • , Kristina Lorenz
    • , Andreas Nuber
    • , Graeme Milligan
    • , Andrew B. Tobin
    • , Martin J. Lohse
    •  & Carsten Hoffmann
  • Letter |

    A series of intramolecular fluorescent FlAsH BRET reporters is used to monitor conformational changes in β-arrestin2 following activation of seven G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), showing that different GPCRs produce distinct β-arrestin2 conformational signatures that correlate with the stability of the receptor–arrestin complex and the role of β-arrestin2 in activating or dampening downstream signalling events, which explains how different GPCRs can use a common effector for different purposes.

    • Mi-Hye Lee
    • , Kathryn M. Appleton
    • , Erik G. Strungs
    • , Joshua Y. Kwon
    • , Thomas A. Morinelli
    • , Yuri K. Peterson
    • , Stephane A. Laporte
    •  & Louis M. Luttrell
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