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Volume 604 Issue 7904, 7 April 2022

Lost in the city

The cover image contrasts the grid-like street plan of Chicago with the more chaotic layout of Prague. In this week’s issue, Antoine Coutrot and his colleagues reveal how the environment in which we grow up can affect aspects of our cognition. The researchers used specially designed video games to measure spatial navigation ability in some 397,000 people from 38 countries around the world. They found that people who grew up outside of cities were best at navigation. They also noted that people who grew up in cities such as Chicago with regular, grid-like street plans could navigate environments similar to their home, but were less adept at navigating more chaotic street plans of older cities such as Prague. The researchers suggest that this demonstrates the importance of urban design in human cognition and brain function.

Cover image: K. Krause/Nature; maps: Bardocz Peter and ilyankou/Shutterstock

This Week

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    • Data sharing can save important scientific work from extinction, but only if researchers take care to ensure that resources are easy to find and reuse.

      • Michael Eisenstein


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    • A protein complex called the rixosome helps to degrade RNA transcripts that linger after gene expression ceases. This discovery points to distinct roles for the rixosome in regulating chromatin in different species.

      • Michael Uckelmann
      • Chen Davidovich
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    • A cubic metre of tellurium held at cryogenic temperatures over many years has enabled a search for matter created in a rare nuclear process. The feat bodes well for stabilizing other complex systems at low temperatures.

      • Jason Detwiler
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    • Human cancer cells often double their genome through an error in cell division, and this can lead to further genomic instability. A detailed analysis of the first cell cycle after genome doubling sheds light on this phenomenon.

      • Yonatan Eliezer
      • Uri Ben-David
      News & Views
    • A paper published in 1997 brought the thermodynamics of the nineteenth century into the twenty-first century — expanding the physics of transformations involved in the operation of steam engines to the realm of molecular motors.

      • Chase P. Broedersz
      • Pierre Ronceray
      News & Views
    • A general method that quantifies and disentangles the effects of a gene’s mutations on the traits of its protein enables assessments of mutational effects on protein biophysics for many of the proteins of a living organism.

      • Debora S. Marks
      • Stephen W. Michnick
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    • In the standard Si transistor gate stack, replacing conventional dielectric HfO2 with an ultrathin ferroelectric–antiferroelectric HfO2–ZrO2 heterostructure exhibiting the negative capacitance effect demonstrates ultrahigh capacitance without degradation in leakage and mobility, promising for ferroelectric integration into advanced logic technology.

      • Suraj S. Cheema
      • Nirmaan Shanker
      • Sayeef Salahuddin
    • A protocol in which monomers are pre-organized using a reversible and removable urea linkage enables the production of covalent organic frameworks with higher crystallinity and porosity than those produced using standard approaches with randomly aligned monomers.

      • Weiwei Zhang
      • Linjiang Chen
      • Andrew I. Cooper
      Article Open Access
    • The molecular chemical ‘fuelling’ of the catalysis-driven motor 1-phenylpyrrole 2,2′-dicarboxylic acid, which operates by a Brownian information ratchet mechanism, facilitates dynamics that are otherwise kinetically inaccessible.

      • Stefan Borsley
      • Elisabeth Kreidt
      • Benjamin M. W. Roberts
    • A biocatalytic enzyme originating from bacteria, EneIRED, facilitates amine-activated conjugate alkene reduction followed by reductive amination, efficiently preparing chiral amine diastereomers, which are commonly used in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. 

      • Thomas W. Thorpe
      • James R. Marshall
      • Nicholas J. Turner
    • Identification of a hyperstable boronate enables automated lego-like synthesis to access a wider range of three-dimensionally complex small organic molecules rich in Csp3–C bonds. 

      • Daniel J. Blair
      • Sriyankari Chitti
      • Martin D. Burke
    • The hippocampal code in freely flying bats is highly stable over days and across contexts if behaviour is taken into account.

      • William A. Liberti III
      • Tobias A. Schmid
      • Michael M. Yartsev
    • Spatial transcriptomics and single-cell profiling identify previously uncharacterized cell types of human terminal and respiratory bronchioles, and show that cell differentiation and lineage trajectories are distinct from those in the mouse lung.

      • Preetish Kadur Lakshminarasimha Murthy
      • Vishwaraj Sontake
      • Purushothama Rao Tata
    • Integrated structure–function studies show that transcription-coupled DNA repair (TCR)—rather than global genomic repair—is responsible for most chromosomal repair events in bacteria, and that TCR mainly occurs independently of the Mfd translocase.

      • Binod K. Bharati
      • Manjunath Gowder
      • Evgeny Nudler
    • A cryo-electron microscopy analysis reveals how HAS selects its substrates, hydrolyses the first substrate to prime the synthesis reaction, opens a hyaluronan-conducting transmembrane channel, ensures alternating substrate polymerization and coordinates hyaluronan inside its transmembrane pore.

      • Finn P. Maloney
      • Jeremi Kuklewicz
      • Jochen Zimmer
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Career Guide

  • Team science meets cancer research: a growing number of researchers are exploring how the microbiome influences cancer causes and treatments.

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