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Volume 587 Issue 7833, 12 November 2020

Patterns in evolution

Although genome sequencing is increasingly routine for humans, it remains much less common in most other species, and only a small portion of the diversity of life is represented in genomic databases. In this issue, three papers take steps to redress the balance, exploring uncharted branches of vertebrate evolution. In one paper, Guojie Zhang and colleagues from the Bird 10,000 Genomes Project compare 363 genomes representing more than 90% of avian families, including 267 newly sequenced bird species. In another paper, Elinor Karlsson and her colleagues in the Zoonomia Project describe their analysis of 240 genomes representing more than 80% of placental mammal families, including 122 newly sequenced species. To analyse these massive data sets, both teams used new software called Progressive Cactus, which is described by Benedict Paten and co-workers in the third paper. The software can align thousands of genomes spanning hundreds of millions of years of evolution by reconstructing ancestral genomes using cactus graphs. The cover image reflects this process, using stylized mathematical graphs to highlight the software used and create constellations of some species sequenced in this week’s issue.

Cover image: SciStories

This Week

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News in Focus

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  • News & Views

    • Mismatches are alterations in DNA that prevent the bases on each strand of the double helix from aligning correctly. It emerges that mismatches can bend DNA into favourable conformations for binding by proteins.

      • Kale Kundert
      • James S. Fraser
      News & Views
    • The enzyme caspase-8 can induce cell death or promote survival and the expression of inflammatory proteins. The discovery of a previously unknown caspase-8 target solves one mystery about immune-defence regulation.

      • Igor E. Brodsky
      News & Views
    • Experiments conducted deep beneath a mountain have provided the most precise measurements yet of a key nuclear reaction that occurred seconds after the Big Bang — refining our knowledge of the constituents of the Universe.

      • Brian D. Fields
      News & Views
  • Analysis

    • A whole-genome alignment of 240 phylogenetically diverse species of eutherian mammal—including 131 previously uncharacterized species—from the Zoonomia Project provides data that support biological discovery, medical research and conservation.

      • Diane P. Genereux
      • Aitor Serres
      • Elinor K. Karlsson
      Analysis Open Access
  • Articles

    • Strain gauges with both high sensitivity and high mechanical resilience, based on strain-mediated contact in anisotropically resistive structures, are demonstrated within a sensor-integrated, textile-based sleeve that can recognize human hand motions via muscle deformations.

      • Oluwaseun A. Araromi
      • Moritz A. Graule
      • Robert J. Wood
    • North Atlantic landfalling hurricanes are weakening more slowly than in the past because warming oceans are increasing the moisture carried by the storm until it hits land, and this storm moisture acts as an ongoing heat source post-landfall.

      • Lin Li
      • Pinaki Chakraborty
    • A robotic pipeline is used to survey a library of mutations in a Drosphila gene enhancer, showing that most mutations altered gene expression and had widespread pleiotropic effects that are likely to constrain regulatory evolution.

      • Timothy Fuqua
      • Jeff Jordan
      • Justin Crocker
    • A dataset of the genomes of 363 species from the Bird 10,000 Genomes Project shows increased power to detect shared and lineage-specific variation, demonstrating the importance of phylogenetically diverse taxon sampling in whole-genome sequencing.

      • Shaohong Feng
      • Josefin Stiller
      • Guojie Zhang
    • Two populations of neurons with distinct anatomy and receptor expression that convey information from the spinal cord to the brain have different functional properties with respect to touch and pain.

      • Seungwon Choi
      • Junichi Hachisuka
      • David D. Ginty
    • Social memory is consolidated in the brain through the reactivation of neuronal firing by sharp-wave ripples in the CA2 region of the hippocampus, in a similar way to the consolidation of spatial memory.

      • Azahara Oliva
      • Antonio Fernández-Ruiz
      • Steven A. Siegelbaum
    • A study of patients with COVID-19 and healthy donors found CD4+ T cells that react to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and human endemic coronaviruses; however, the effect of pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive T cells on clinical outcomes remains to be determined.

      • Julian Braun
      • Lucie Loyal
      • Andreas Thiel
    • NEDD4-binding protein 1 (N4BP1) is identified as a suppressor of cytokine production that is inactivated by caspase-8, which provides insight into the mechanisms underlying the immunodeficiency caused by mutations in FADD and caspase-8.

      • Alexander D. Gitlin
      • Klaus Heger
      • Vishva M. Dixit
    • The surfactant-like protein Ki-67 mediates the clustering of chromosomes during mitotic exit, which displaces large cytoplasmic molecules from the future nuclear space and thus enables the separation of cytoplasmic and nuclear components before the nuclear envelope reforms.

      • Sara Cuylen-Haering
      • Mina Petrovic
      • Daniel W. Gerlich
    • Mother cells recycle parental MCMs and simultaneously synthesize nascent MCMs, both of which are inherited by daughter cells, in which the former are preferentially used to form active replisomes and the latter adjust the pace of replisome movement to minimize errors during DNA replication.

      • Hana Sedlackova
      • Maj-Britt Rask
      • Jiri Lukas
    • Telomeric-repeat-containing RNA is recruited to telomeres by a mechanism that involves the DNA recombinase RAD51 and the formation of DNA–RNA hybrids, or R-loops—a process similar to that involved in homology-directed DNA repair.

      • Marianna Feretzaki
      • Michaela Pospisilova
      • Joachim Lingner
    • The structure of a RIFIN–LILRB1 complex reveals that a subset of RIFINs of Plasmodium falciparum mimics the binding mode of the natural ligand of human LILRB1 and suppress the function of natural killer cells in humans.

      • Thomas E. Harrison
      • Alexander M. Mørch
      • Matthew K. Higgins
    • Structural and functional studies of the sodium leak channel, non-selective (NALCN) in complex with a distinct auxiliary subunit reveal the structural basis of the channel function and pharmacology and the functional impact of mutations that cause NALCN channelopathies.

      • Marc Kschonsak
      • Han Chow Chua
      • Jian Payandeh
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