Biological sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant male reproduction is controlled by gibberellin signalling via the transcription factor GAMYB. Here, deletion of GAMYB in a moss species lacking a gibberellin signalling pathway gives rise to abnormal spores, suggesting that primitive plants used GAMYB for the control of sexual organ development.

    • Koichiro Aya
    • , Yuji Hiwatashi
    •  & Makoto Matsuoka
  • Article |

    Cell fusion is involved in many different cellular processes including the fusion of trophoblast cells in the placenta. Matsuuraet al. identify a role for the β-catenin signalling pathway in the regulation of the transcription factor GCM1 and therefore the fusion of syncytiotrophoblast cells.

    • Ken Matsuura
    • , Takafumi Jigami
    •  & Tetsu Akiyama
  • Article |

    The processes that regulate melanoblast migration during development are also thought to be involved in melanoma metastasis. Here, Prex1 null mice are shown to have a melanoblast migration defect and, when crossed to a mouse model of melanoma, are resistant to metastasis, suggesting a role for Prex1 in metastatic melanoma.

    • Colin R. Lindsay
    • , Samuel Lawn
    •  & Owen J. Sansom
  • Article |

    The health benefits of massage therapy, like the reduction of stress, have so far only been shown in humans. This study uses modelling to demonstrate that, while visiting cleaner fish to have ectoparasites removed, the physical stimulation also acts to reduce stress in the coral reef fish,Ctenochaetus striatus.

    • Marta C. Soares
    • , Rui F. Oliveira
    •  & Redouan Bshary
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Female Swallowtail butterflies will only lay their eggs on a small number of plants, which they choose by detecting specific chemicals on the leaf surface. Here, a gustatory receptor,PxutGr1, is identified in Papilio xuthus, which is used by the butterfly to detect synephrine when selecting a host plant.

    • Katsuhisa Ozaki
    • , Masasuke Ryuda
    •  & Hiroshi Yoshikawa
  • Article |

    DNA nanotubes could be used to transport nano-cargo and incorporated into nano-devices. In this study, rolling circle amplification is used to generate DNA subunits, and their thermodynamic growth results in the formation of nanotubes with a controlled diameter.

    • Ofer I. Wilner
    • , Ron Orbach
    •  & Itamar Willner
  • Article |

    Parasites such as malaria elicit an immune response in their host, causing cytokine levels to increase. In this study, a parasite housekeeping gene, tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase, is shown to bind to host macrophages and, once inside the cells, enhance the levels of proinflammatory cytokines.

    • Tarun Kumar Bhatt
    • , Sameena Khan
    •  & Amit Sharma
  • Article |

    The microRNA miR-137 is enriched in the brain of mice and induces the differentiation of adult neural stem cells. Now, Sun and colleagues report that miR-137 negatively regulates proliferation of neurons in embryonic mice and that TLX and LSD1 cooperate to negatively regulate miR-137 expression, blocking premature differentiation.

    • GuoQiang Sun
    • , Peng Ye
    •  & Yanhong Shi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In the classical model, fast neuronal signalling occurs at specialized presynaptic terminals. Now, Ratnayakaet al. show that stimulus-driven fusion and recycling of synaptic vesicles can occur at axonal sites remote from conventional synapses. These findings have implications for dynamic forms of neuron–neuron communication.

    • Arjuna Ratnayaka
    • , Vincenzo Marra
    •  & Kevin Staras
  • Article |

    Differences in the arrangement of cells is a fundamental precursor to the establishment of different organs. In this study, network theory is applied at the level of individual cells to map patterns in cell-to-cell contacts, creating a new approach to objectively characterise epithelia.

    • Luis M. Escudero
    • , Luciano da F. Costa
    •  & M. Madan Babu
  • Review Article |

    Hair cells of the inner ear transduce vibrations of the basilar membrane into electrical signals by a process known as mechanotransduction. Recent advances in genetic and molecular tools have led to an improved understanding of mechanotransduction as Peng and colleagues summarize in this Review.

    • Anthony W. Peng
    • , Felipe T. Salles
    •  & Anthony J. Ricci
  • Article |

    Surface characterization of soft materialsin situis challenging due to the importance of non-covalent interactions. Now, a new chemical imaging method is reported that generates images of surface interactions by combining many molecular probe trajectories.

    • Robert Walder
    • , Nathaniel Nelson
    •  & Daniel K. Schwartz
  • Article |

    Peatlands are a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide and make up a large soil carbon reservoir. Here, studies of the interaction between drainage and fire show that long-term carbon emissions will likely exceed rates of carbon uptake, reducing the northern peatland carbon sink.

    • M.R. Turetsky
    • , W.F. Donahue
    •  & B.W. Benscoter
  • Article |

    Erythropoietin circulates in the blood and is essential for erythropoiesis but its role in metabolic homeostasis has not been examined. Tenget al. show that when the erythropoietin receptor is only expressed in erthyroid cells, mice develop obesity and insulin resistance, suggesting that the receptor has a key role in fat mass accumulation.

    • Ruifeng Teng
    • , Oksana Gavrilova
    •  & Constance Tom Noguchi
  • Article |

    APOBEC3 is a DNA editing enzyme that is important for antiviral responses. In this study, Carmi and colleagues show that APOBEC3 editing of retrotransposon sequences in mammalian genomes is widespread, with implications for the evolution of retrotransposons.

    • Shai Carmi
    • , George M. Church
    •  & Erez Y. Levanon
  • Article |

    Large scale synapse assays can facilitate identification of drug leads. Shiet al. develop a 'synapse microarray' technology that enables sensitive, high-throughput, quantitative screening of synaptogenic events, and use it to identify novel histone deacetylase inhibitors that enhance synaptogenesis.

    • Peng Shi
    • , Mark A. Scott
    •  & Mehmet Fatih Yanik
  • Article
    | Open Access

    MicroRNAs bind to the 3′-untranslated region of genes to regulate expression. In this study, an RNA-binding protein, RMB38, is shown to selectively regulate the access of some microRNAs to their targets, and control the expression of some p53 target genes.

    • Nicolas Léveillé
    • , Ran Elkon
    •  & Reuven Agami
  • Article
    | Open Access

    During cell division, a cytoplasmic bridge—the midbody—forms between the nascent daughter cells, but it has been unclear under which conditions this is retained by a daughter cell or released. Now, Ettinger and colleagues show that midbody-release occurs more frequently in stem cells compared with cancer cells.

    • Andreas W. Ettinger
    • , Michaela Wilsch-Bräuninger
    •  & Wieland B. Huttner
  • Article |

    Memory retrieval followed by extinction training has been shown to erase fear memories. Flavellet al. show that this approach also erases appetitive memories in rats and results from a modification of memory reconsolidation, which could be useful for the treatment of drug addiction.

    • Charlotte R. Flavell
    • , David J. Barber
    •  & Jonathan L.C. Lee
  • Article |

    In non-NMDA glutamate receptors, intersubunit contacts within agonist binding domains affect functional desensitization. Now, NMDA receptor activation, but not desensitization, is shown to involve rearrangements at the heterodimer interface, suggesting that the intersubunit contacts of NMDA and non-NMDA receptors may have distinct functional roles.

    • William F. Borschel
    • , Swetha E. Murthy
    •  & Gabriela K. Popescu
  • Article |

    The Golgi membrane is fragmented during mitosis and is subsequently fused following cell division and this process is known to be controlled by ubiquitination. In this study, the ubiquitin ligase HACE1 is shown to be targeted to the Golgi membrane and is required for fusion after the completion of mitosis.

    • Danming Tang
    • , Yi Xiang
    •  & Yanzhuang Wang
  • Article |

    Ampullary organs are involved in electroreception, but whether these are derived from placodes, thickened ectoderm, is unclear. In this study, the ampullary organs of the primitive ray-finned fish,Polyodon spathula, are shown to develop from lateral line placodes, suggesting that this is the ancestral state in bony fishes.

    • Melinda S. Modrell
    • , William E. Bemis
    •  & Clare V.H. Baker
  • Article |

    The fusion of satellite cells to muscle fibres during adult life is required for both muscle growth and regeneration but it is unknown whether non-muscle cells contribute to this process. Now, Dellavalle and colleagues show that pericytes, cells associated with the vasculature can contribute to both growth and regeneration of muscle fibres.

    • A. Dellavalle
    • , G. Maroli
    •  & G. Cossu
  • Article |

    The role of phosphatidylinositol(4,5)bisphosphate in exocytosis is unclear. This study shows that inhibition of the p110δ isoform of PI3-kinase promotes a transient increase in phosphatidylinositol(4,5)bisphosphate, leading to a potentiation of exocytosis in chromaffin cells.

    • Peter J. Wen
    • , Shona L. Osborne
    •  & Frédéric A. Meunier
  • Article |

    The generation of human cell lines using somatic cell nuclear transfer has been difficult to achieve. In this study, Egliet al. show that while mouse eggs reprogram somatic cells within hours, human eggs arrest after nuclear transfer which may be due to a lack of genome transcription.

    • Dieter Egli
    • , Alice E. Chen
    •  & Kevin Eggan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    What controls the binding partner selection of the target of rapamycin protein, TOR, is unknown. Using theCaenorhabditis elegans tail as a model, Nukazuka et al. determine that signals of semaphorin through plexin control the binding partner selection of TOR and are required for the correct organization of rays in the tail.

    • Akira Nukazuka
    • , Shusaku Tamaki
    •  & Shin Takagi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advanced biofuels with comparable properties to petroleum-based fuels could be microbially produced from lignocellulosic biomass. In this study,Escherichia coliis engineered to produce bisabolene, the immediate precursor of bisabolane, a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel.

    • Pamela P. Peralta-Yahya
    • , Mario Ouellet
    •  & Taek Soon Lee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The risk factors associated with both ischemic and haemorrhagic stroke are not fully understood. Here a certain strain of the bacteria,Streptococcus mutans, which expresses a collagen-binding protein, is shown to be associated with haemorrhagic stroke in both animal models and human patients.

    • Kazuhiko Nakano
    • , Kazuya Hokamura
    •  & Takashi Ooshima
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A bacterial export gate complex transports flagellar proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane, but the mechanism of this process is unclear. Here, the export gate complex is revealed as a proton–protein antiporter that uses separate components of the proton motive force for different steps of the export process.

    • Tohru Minamino
    • , Yusuke V. Morimoto
    •  & Keiichi Namba
  • Article |

    In this study, fossils from the Late Cretaceous period in India are described and are assigned to the rice tribe based on phylogenetic comparison of morphological traits with modern grasses; these findings suggest that the evolutionary origins of the grass family, Poaceae, occurred earlier than previously thought.

    • V. Prasad
    • , C.A.E. Strömberg
    •  & A. Sahni
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the genetics and physiology of domesticated species is important for crop improvement. By studying natural variation and the phenotypic traits of 413 diverse accessions of rice, Zhao et al. identify many common genetic variants that influence quantitative traits such as seed size and flowering time.

    • Keyan Zhao
    • , Chih-Wei Tung
    •  & Susan R. McCouch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The paradigm of reservoir computing shows that, like the human brain, complex networks can perform efficient information processing. Here, a simple delay dynamical system is demonstrated that can efficiently perform computations capable of replacing a complex network in reservoir computing.

    • L. Appeltant
    • , M.C. Soriano
    •  & I. Fischer
  • Article |

    Cellular senescence is characterized by the cessation of cell growth and the expression of the p16 protein. In this study, inhibition or loss of p300, a histone acetyltransferase, is shown to result in senescence that occurs independently of p16 and is associated with histone hypoacetylation and altered replication timing.

    • Alexandre Prieur
    • , Emilie Besnard
    •  & Jean-Marc Lemaitre
  • Article |

    Recent technological advances have allowed the expansion of spermatogonial stem cellsin vitro; however, in vivo conditions are required for the full differentiation of the cells. In this study, an in vitroorgan culture system is developed that allows the differentiation of the germ cells in the laboratory.

    • Takuya Sato
    • , Kumiko Katagiri
    •  & Takehiko Ogawa
  • Article |

    Protein microarrays are useful both in basic research and also in disease monitoring and diagnosis, but their dynamic range is limited. By using plasmonic gold substrates with near-infrared fluorescent enhancement, Tabakman et al. demonstrate a multiplexed protein array with improved detection limits and dynamic range.

    • Scott M. Tabakman
    • , Lana Lau
    •  & Hongjie Dai