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Volume 578 Issue 7795, 20 February 2020

Twisted nerves

The cover image shows an artist’s impression of solid tumours clustering near neurons. In this week’s issue, Moran Amit and his colleagues show that head and neck cancer cells can manipulate nearby nerve cells into promoting tumour growth. The researchers find that the cancer cells secrete vesicles containing small RNA molecules (microRNAs) that are taken up by nearby sensory nerve cells. If the cancer cells have a mutant form of the p53 protein, then the vesicles secreted do not feature a microRNA that blocks neuronal growth. As a result, the vesicles promote the proliferation of nerve cells and reprogram them to be adrenergic neurons, which aids tumour growth.

Cover image: David M. Aten

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The non-coding RNA Xist has been shown to enlist the SPEN protein to recruit a team of protein complexes — initiating the process that prevents transcription of one of the two X chromosomes found in female mammalian cells.

    • Jackson B. Trotman
    • J. Mauro Calabrese
  • News & Views |

    Most surfaces are rough at many length scales. Simulations show that this characteristic originates at the atomic level in metal-based materials when smooth blocks of these materials are compressed.

    • Astrid S. de Wijn
  • News & Views |

    Tumours often grow entangled among neurons, which makes the cancer difficult to treat. The finding that cancer cells hijack neighbouring neurons to promote tumour growth suggests new therapeutic targets.

    • Marco Napoli
    • Elsa R. Flores
  • News & Views |

    The breaking of a property of nature called charge–parity–time symmetry might explain the observed lack of antimatter in the Universe. Scientists have now hunted for such symmetry breaking using the antimatter atom antihydrogen.

    • Randolf Pohl
  • News & Views |

    In 1990, an oceanographer who had never worked on climate science proposed that ice-age cooling has been amplified by increased concentrations of iron in the sea — and instigated an explosion of research.

    • Heather Stoll
  • News & Views |

    A process termed ubiquitination mediates the regulated destruction of cellular proteins, thereby preventing disease or infection. Structural data now reveal how a crucial regulator of ubiquitination enzymes coordinates this process.

    • Raymond J. Deshaies
    • Nathan W. Pierce
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Precision measurements of the 1S–2P transition in antihydrogen that take into account the standard Zeeman and hyperfine effects confirm the predictions of quantum electrodynamics.

    • M. Ahmadi
    • B. X. R. Alves
    • J. S. Wurtele
  • Article |

    The lysosomal polyamine transporter ATP13A2 controls the cellular polyamine content, and impaired lysosomal polyamine export represents a lysosome-dependent cell death pathway that may be implicated in ATP13A2-associated neurodegeneration.

    • Sarah van Veen
    • Shaun Martin
    • Peter Vangheluwe
  • Article |

    In mouse studies, metformin treatment results in increased secretion of growth/differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), which prevents weight gain in response to high-fat diet, and GDF15-independent lowering of circulating blood glucose.

    • Anthony P. Coll
    • Michael Chen
    • Stephen O’Rahilly
  • Article |

    The crystal structure of the SA2–SCC1 subunits of human cohesin in complex with CTCF reveals the molecular basis of the cohesin–CTCF interaction that enables the dynamic regulation of chromatin folding.

    • Yan Li
    • Judith H. I. Haarhuis
    • Daniel Panne
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