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Volume 616 Issue 7956, 13 April 2023

Acquired taste

Octopuses use chemotactile receptors (CRs) in the suckers on their arms to ‘taste by touch’ as they explore their sea-floor environment. These proteins evolved from neurotransmitter receptors to allow octopuses to detect poorly soluble natural products on contact. In this week’s issue, two papers by Nicholas Bellono, Ryan Hibbs and their colleagues use cephalopod CRs to probe the structural basis of sensory-receptor evolution. In the first, the researchers describe the adaptations in octopus protein structures that underlie the change in receptor function from neurotransmission to detecting environmental stimuli. In the second paper, the team uses this information to explore how tuning sensory receptors drives new behaviour in various cephalopods, including octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Taken together, the studies offer a basis for understanding how subtle structural adaptations can drive novel traits and behaviours that are suited to specific ecological contexts.

Cover image: Anik Grearson

This Week

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  • News & Views

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      • Sean N. Raymond
      News & Views
    • A four-legged robot has learnt to run on sand at a faster pace than humans jog on solid ground. With low energy use and few failures, this rapid robot shows the value of combining data-driven learning with accurate, yet simple, models.

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    • An injection system from bacteria has been re-engineered in an effort to develop a programmable system for protein delivery into cells. Its customizability opens the door to a multitude of biomedical applications.

      • Charles F. Ericson
      • Martin Pilhofer
      News & Views
    • A molecular process called singlet fission might boost solar-cell efficiency, but the mechanism must first be determined. A technique that probes molecules undergoing this process finally reveals the excited states involved.

      • Andrew J. Musser
      • Hannah Stern
      News & Views
    • Unusual metabolic pathways used by cancer cells offer possible targets for the development of clinical treatments. One such pathway, involving molecules called polyamines, has been found for pancreatic cancer.

      • Daniel J. Puleston
      News & Views
  • Perspective

    • This review discusses generalist medical artificial intelligence, identifying potential applications and setting out specific technical capabilities and training datasets necessary to enable them, as well as highlighting challenges to its implementation.

      • Michael Moor
      • Oishi Banerjee
      • Pranav Rajpurkar
  • Articles

    • James Webb Space Telescope early release observations used to search for intrinsically red galaxies from the first 750 million years of cosmic history find six candidate massive galaxies, possibly including one of roughly 1011 solar masses.

      • Ivo Labbé
      • Pieter van Dokkum
      • Bingjie Wang
    • Time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy is used to observe the primary step of singlet fission with orbital resolution indicating a charge-transfer mediated mechanism with a hybridization of states in the lowest bright singlet exciton.

      • Alexander Neef
      • Samuel Beaulieu
      • Ralph Ernstorfer
      Article Open Access
    • A porous organic crystal readily and reversibly adsorbs water, with dehydration occurring well below the freezing point of water, which could be seen by a change in colour.

      • Alan C. Eaby
      • Dirkie C. Myburgh
      • Leonard J. Barbour
      Article Open Access
    • Spatial optimizations of high-resolution data from China on crop-specific yields, harvested areas, environmental footprints and farmer incomes shows that crop switching can enhance environmental sustainability and farmer incomes, and contribute substantially towards China’s agricultural sustainable development targets.

      • Wei Xie
      • Anfeng Zhu
      • Kyle Frankel Davis
    • Thermodynamic modelling shows that Earth’s water, core density and overall oxidation state can be explained by the formation of Earth from planetary embryos with hydrogen-rich primary atmospheres and underlying magma oceans.

      • Edward D. Young
      • Anat Shahar
      • Hilke E. Schlichting
    • Electrophysiological recordings in sleeping bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) reveal a type of interhemispheric competition that is detected in the claustrum but generated in the midbrain, and only during rapid-eye-movement sleep.

      • Lorenz A. Fenk
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      Article Open Access
    • The tail fibre of an extracellular contractile injection system (eCIS) from Photorhabdus asymbiotica recognizes targets expressed on eukaryotic host cells, and can be reprogrammed to target specific organisms and cell types for delivery of novel protein payloads.

      • Joseph Kreitz
      • Mirco J. Friedrich
      • Feng Zhang
      Article Open Access
    • A high throughput recruitment assay testing the transcriptional activity of more than 100,000 protein fragments tiling across most human chromatin regulators and transcription factors maps the locations and strengths of activation, repression and bifunctional domains, and identifies the sequences necessary for these functions.

      • Nicole DelRosso
      • Josh Tycko
      • Lacramioara Bintu
    • Cryo-electron microscopy analyses reveal adaptations that facilitate the octopus chemotactile receptor’s evolutionary transition from an ancestral role in neurotransmission to detecting greasy environmental agonists for ‘taste by touch’ sensory behaviour.

      • Corey A. H. Allard
      • Guipeun Kang
      • Nicholas W. Bellono
    • Octopus and squid use cephalopod-specific chemotactile receptors to sense their respective marine environments, but structural adaptations in these receptors support the sensation of specific molecules suited to distinct physiological roles.

      • Guipeun Kang
      • Corey A. H. Allard
      • Ryan E. Hibbs
    • Cryo-EM structures of D. radiodurans TnpB–reRNA complex in DNA-bound and -free forms reveal the basic architecture of TnpB nuclease and the molecular mechanism for DNA target recognition and cleavage supported by biochemical experiments.

      • Giedrius Sasnauskas
      • Giedre Tamulaitiene
      • Virginijus Siksnys
    • Cryo-electron microscopy analysis of the Deinococcus radiodurans ISDra2 TnpB in complex with its cognate ωRNA and target DNA provides insights into the mechanism of TnpB function and the evolution of CRISPR–Cas12 effectors.

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      Article Open Access
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