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Article Released Wed-16th-May-2007 19:05 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Regeneration: Hope for new hair

Summaries of newsworthy papers in Nature on 17 May 2007: Planetary science: Enceladus' daily grind; Infectious diseases: Global early-warning system needed; Immunology: The good news about herpes infection; Materials: Silicon in a spin; Infectious diseases: West Nile virus wreaks havoc for birds and Unexpected biodiversity springs from the depths


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.447 NO.7142 DATED 17 MAY 2007

This press release contains:

• Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Regeneration: Hope for new hair
Planetary science: Enceladus' daily grind
Infectious diseases: Global early-warning system needed
Immunology: The good news about herpes infection
Materials: Silicon in a spin
Infectious diseases: West Nile virus wreaks havoc for birds
And finally… Unexpected biodiversity springs from the depths

• Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo
• Geographical listing of authors

Editorial contacts: While the best contacts for stories will always be the authors themselves, in some cases the Nature editor who handled the paper will be available for comment if an author is unobtainable. Editors are contactable via Ruth Francis on +44 20 7843 4562. Feel free to get in touch with Nature's press contacts in London, Washington and Tokyo (as listed at the end of this release) with any general editorial inquiry.

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• PDFs for the Articles, Letters, Progress articles, Review articles, Insights and Brief Communications in this issue will be available on the Nature journals press site from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern time on the Friday before publication.

• PDFs of News & Views, News Features, Correspondence and Commentaries will be available from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern time on the Monday before publication

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[1] Regeneration: Hope for new hair (pp 316-320; N&V)

Adult mice can regenerate hair follicles and hair, a Nature paper published this week suggests. The results help resolve a 50-year-long debate and may aid in the design of new treatments for wounds, hair loss and other degenerative skin disorders.

For half a century, most people believed that mammalian hair follicles form only during development, and that loss of adult follicles is permanent. George Cotsarelis and colleagues now show this is not the case, at least for adult mice with skin wounds. Wounding, they report, triggers new hair-producing follicles to form. Exposure to Wnt signalling — a genetic pathway involved in normal hair follicle development and cycling — following wounding increases the number of regenerated hair follicles. And Wnt signalling inhibition after regrowth of the epithelium prevents new follicles from forming.

The results suggest that mammalian skin can respond to wounding with plasticity and a much greater regenerative capacity than was previously believed. It's thought that wounding triggers an embryonic-like state in the skin which provides a window for hair follicle regeneration via the Wnt signalling pathway.

George Cotsarelis (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Tel: +1 215 898 9967; E-mail:

Cheng-Ming Chuong (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 323 442 1296; E-mail:

[2] & [3] Planetary science: Enceladus' daily grind (pp 289-291; 292-294; N&V)

Scientists may have worked out what powers the plumes of gas seen escaping from the surface of one of Saturn's moons. The energy may be generated by massive ice sheets grinding together, with the vapour produced being released through rifts that open and close periodically, two Nature papers suggest.

When Cassini flew by Enceladus, a small icy satellite of Saturn, a couple of years ago, cameras snapped active vapour plumes thought to emanate from rifts in the crust dubbed 'tiger stripes.' Francis Nimmo and colleagues now suggest that these 'tiger stripes' are like strike-slip fault zones, with sheets of ice grinding back and forth against one another. This, they say, could generate enough energy to power the gas plumes.

Terry A. Hurford and colleagues show that as Enceladus orbits Saturn, the parent planet's tides make the satellite's ice flex. This, they believe, causes the 'tiger stripes' to open and close periodically, exposing volatiles and allowing them to be released.

Tidal heating was previously proposed as a potential mechanism to explain Enceladus' vapour plumes, but scientists debate whether the energy generated from tidal heating is sufficient. The two new papers offer a plausible alternative.

Francis Nimmo (University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA) Author paper [2]
Tel: +1 831 459 1783; E-mail:

Terry A. Hurford (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA) Author paper [3]
Tel: +1 301 614 6455; E-mail:

Andrew J. Dombard (Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 240 228 1651; E-mail:

[4] Infectious diseases: Global early-warning system needed (pp 279-283)

Researchers are calling for a global early-warning system to identify the sources of future human infectious disease. This week they present a Nature analysis that compares the origins of temperate and tropical infectious diseases, and highlights how little we know about their evolution.

Most major human infectious diseases have animal origins, yet we continue to be bombarded by new animal pathogens, jumping across species barriers. So Jared Diamond and colleagues want to see a systematic ongoing global effort monitoring for emergent animal pathogens that could infect humans. People with high levels of exposure to wild animals, such as hunters, zoo workers and wildlife veterinarians, should be regularly screened, they say.

The team made their request after comparing the characteristics and origins of 15 temperate (such as whooping cough) and 10 tropical diseases (such as cholera). Most of the diseases studied arose in Africa, Asia and Europe, but the reasons for their emergence differed between regions — infections from animal and insect vectors, for example, were more common in the tropics.

The review reveals “big gaps in our understanding” of the origins of even established major infectious diseases, such as AIDS, cholera and tuberculosis. So alongside a global early-warning system for new human infectious diseases, the authors would also like to see more research to clarify the origins of existing infectious diseases. Such work could boost understanding of how diseases emerge and suggest new laboratory models for studying public health threats.

Jared Diamond (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 310 825 6177; E-mail:

Please note the author will be away from 16 May onwards, so you may wish to contact:

Nathan Wolfe (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA) Co-author
Tel: +1 310 794 7538; E-mail:

[5] Immunology: The good news about herpes infection (pp 326-329)

Being infected with herpesvirus has an unexpected up side, in mice at least. Chronic, latent infection protects the animals against subsequent bacterial infection, a Nature study reveals this week.

All humans become infected with herpesviruses during childhood, and after the initial infection clears the virus enters a dormant state known as latency. Herbert W. Virgin and colleagues now show that mice latently infected with either mouse gammaherpesvirus 68 or mouse cytomegalovirus are resistant to infection with a diverse range of pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes and the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis. The authors argue that the co-evolution of both parties provides a survival benefit not only to the virus but also to the host.

Herbert W. Virgin (Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA)
Tel: +1 314 362 9223; E-mail:

[6] Materials: Silicon in a spin (pp 295-298; N&V)

The first silicon-based spintronics device is reported in this week’s Nature. Spintronics, an emerging technology that uses the quantum spin states as well as (or instead of) the charge states of electrons, offers another level of control over electronic devices. So with silicon already at the forefront of conventional electronics, devices like this could find themselves integrated with standard silicon technology.

Researchers have been trying to make devices that can transport electronic signals with all of the electrons spun in one direction only. But finding the right combinations of materials to do this efficiently has proved tricky. Ian Appelbaum and colleagues have achieved this by sandwiching an extra layer inside their device. The extra layer, made from aluminium and iron cobalt sits between an insulating barrier and the silicon, where it filters out electrons of a particular spin.

Ian Appelbaum (University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA)
Tel: +1 302 831 3295; E-mail:

Igor Zutic (State University of New York at Buffalo, NY, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 716 645 2017 x183; E-mail:

[7] Infectious diseases: West Nile virus wreaks havoc for birds (AOP; N&V)
DOI: 10.1038/nature05829

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 16 May at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 17 May, but at a later date.***

West Nile virus (WNV) seems to have caused the continental-scale decline of seven species of birds across North America, a paper published online in Nature this week suggests. The finding is a stark example of the potential havoc that can be wreaked by invasive species, and should impact on future conservation strategies.

Shannon L. LaDeau and colleagues used 26 years of Breeding Bird Survey data to determine the impact of WNV on 20 North American potential bird hosts. They found declines in seven species from four families, including the American crow population, which has dropped by 45% since WNV arrived.

The declines occurred as WNV moved across North America, and were significantly correlated with the intensity of WNV transmission to humans. Only 2 of the 7 species recovered to pre-WNV levels by 2005, and this is likely to have knock-on effects for the ecosystems.

Shannon L. LaDeau (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA)
Tel: +1 202 633 1112; E-mail:

Carsten Rahbek (University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark) N&V author
Tel: +45 35 32 10 30; E-mail:

[8] And finally… Unexpected biodiversity springs from the depths (pp 307-311)

Five-hundred and eighty-five new species of crustacean have been found in the depths of the Southern Ocean, thanks to three sampling expeditions set up as part of the ANDEEP (Antarctic benthic deep-sea biodiversity) project. The results are reported in this week’s Nature. Unexpected levels of biodiversity were found in this dark and largely unstudied place, challenging assumptions that deep sea diversity is depressed in this area.

On their expeditions, Angelika Brandt and colleagues collected biological specimens and environmental data from different regions 774 to 6,348 metres under the surface of the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas. The Weddell Sea is an important source of deep water for the rest of the ocean and provides a possible route for species to enter the deep water. In line with this, the team found deep-sea faunas that were also found in adjacent shelf communities and in other oceans.

They spotted 674 species of isopod — a diverse order of crustaceans — of which over 80% were new to science. In some regions, groups of slope-dwelling isopods and marine worms included species that had invaded from the Southern Ocean’s deep continental shelf. Species living in the deepest parts of the Weddell Sea tended to have strong links to other oceans, particularly if they were good dispersers, like certain amoeboids. But poor dispersers, such as isopods, nematode worms and seed shrimps, were Southern Ocean-specific species.

Angelika Brandt (University of Hamburg, Germany)
Tel: +49 40 42838 2278; E-mail:


[9] Annealing-induced interfacial toughening using a molecular nanolayer (pp 299-302)

[10] Survival times of anomalous melt inclusions from element diffusion in olivine and chromite (pp 303-306)

[11] Helicobacter pylori CagA targets PAR1/MARK kinase to disrupt epithelial cell polarity (pp 330-333)

[12] Structural basis for cofactor-independent dioxygenation in vancomycin biosynthesis (pp 342-345)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 16 May at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 17 May, but at a later date.***

[13] 8-oxo-guanine bypass by human DNA polymerases in the presence of auxiliary proteins
DOI: 10.1038/nature05843

[14] Drosophila miR2 induces pseudo-polysomes and inhibits translation initiation
DOI: 10.1038/nature05878

[15] MicroRNA silencing through RISC recruitment of eIF6
DOI: 10.1038/nature05841


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Canberra: 10
Hobart: 10

Brussels: 8
Ghent: 8

Aarhus: 8

Paris: 13
Toulouse: 13

Bochum: 8
Bonn: 8
Frankfurt am Main: 8
Hamburg: 8
Heidelberg: 14

Haifa: 9

Pavia: 13

Kobe: 11
Sapporo: 11
Yokohama: 11

Vladivostock: 8

Barcelona: 15

Bern: 10
Geneva: 8
Zurich: 13

Cambridge: 8
Southampton: 8

Tucson: 3
La Jolla: 3
Los Angeles: 4
Pasadena: 2
Santa Cruz: 2
Boulder: 2
Newark: 6
District of Columbia
Washington: 7
West Lafayette: 5
Greenbelt: 3
Cambridge: 6
Chestnut Hill: 12
Woburn: 3
St Louis: 5
New York
Ithaca: 3
New York: 7
Troy: 9
Yorktown Heights: 9
Philadelphia: 1, 15
Gloucester Point: 8


For North America and Canada
Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington
Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail:

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail:

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Helen Jamison, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail :

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Keywords associated to this article: Hair regeneration, Enceladus, Cassini, Saturn, moon, infectious diseases, early warning, herpes, bacterial infection resistance, silicon, spintronics, West Nile virus, ANDEEP, Southern Ocean, Crustacean
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