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Article Released Thu-27th-September-2007 09:54 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Making a paddy field out of a swamp

Early farmers in eastern China used fire and flood control to manage coastal swamps and turn them into the first known rice paddy fields. Summaries of other newsworthy papers include MicroRNAs & metastasis, Effective gene silencing, Processing with superconducting circuits, Lovelock proposes global warming fix, Taking dendritic cells into medicine

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This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.449 NO.7161 DATED 27 SEPTEMBER 2007

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Cancer: MicroRNAs and metastasis

Farming: Making a paddy field out of a swamp

Molecular biology: Effective gene silencing

Quantum information: Processing with superconducting circuits

Correspondence: Lovelock proposes global warming fix

Cell biology: Taking dendritic cells into medicine

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors



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[1] Cancer: MicroRNAs and metastasis (AOP)

DOI: 10.1038/nature06174



***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 26 September 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 27 September, but at a later date.***



A particular microRNA, microRNA-10b (miR-10b), has been found in abundance in breast cancer cells that have the ability to spread to other organs, according to research published online in Nature this week. The authors demonstrate that it is miR-10b that causes the invasion and metastasis of primary tumour cells.

Robert Weinberg and colleagues demonstrate that miR-10b is induced by the transcriptional regulator Twist, which is of increasing interest in cancer research. miR-10b exerts its effects by regulating the target gene HOXD10, thereby removing RHOC repression.

Understanding why miR-10b is highly expressed in aggressive human breast tumours, and how it functions, gives a better understanding of these high-grade cancers.

CONTACT

Robert Weinberg (Whitehead Institute & MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 258 5159; E-mail: weinberg@wi.mit.edu





[2] Farming: Making a paddy field out of a swamp (pp 459-462)



Early farmers in eastern China used fire and flood control to manage coastal swamps and turn them into the first known rice paddy fields. In a report in this week's Nature, researchers provide a detailed insight into this Neolithic rice cultivation system.

The adoption of cereal cultivation was one of the most important cultural processes in history, marking the transition from hunting and gathering by Mesolithic foragers to the food-producing economy of Neolithic farmers Yongqiang Zong and colleagues present evidence from the earliest known Neolithic site in eastern China, around 7,700 years ago, demonstrating that communities selected lowland swamps for their rice cultivation. The authors suggest that, even at this early stage, rice cultivation involved high-intensity clearance and management of coastal marsh vegetation by fire. It is also likely that floodwater input to cultivated areas was controlled by humans, with artificial ‘bunding’ used to maintain crop yields and prevent major flood damage. The site was eventually overwhelmed by the sea around 7,550 years ago, demonstrating the vulnerability of early rice production in this fertile but unstable ecosystem.

These results establish that rice cultivation began in the coastal wetlands of eastern China. The authors' conclusion that incipient Neolithic groups used fire management to modify these regions may also apply to other areas, and requires further investigation.

CONTACT

Yongqiang Zong (Durham University, UK)

Tel: +44 191 334 1929; E-mail: y.q.zong@durham.ac.uk



Please note that the author is travelling and may not be available until 24 September. You may also wish to contact:



Leighton Kitson (Media Relations Officer, Durham University, UK)

Tel: +44 191 334 6074; E-mail: Leighton.Kitson@durham.ac.uk





[3] Molecular biology: Effective gene silencing (AOP)

DOI: 10.1038/nature06179



***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 26 September 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 27 September, but at a later date.***



Despite recent concerns, new research shows that small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can be effective and safe tools for silencing genes in vivo. The work, published online this week in Nature, demonstrates the use of siRNAs in mouse and hamster, without any demonstrable effect on microRNAs.

The in vivo application of RNA interference for basic research as well as development of therapeutics is rapidly expanding. However, recent work has identified potential for toxic effects in the mouse liver caused by saturation of the microRNA biosynthetic pathway.

David Bumcrot and colleagues show near-complete silencing of two mouse and hamster liver genes by intravenous administration of siRNAs. This silencing is specific to the targeted gene and is not associated with any overt toxicity. They argue that their findings support continued siRNA research and their further development as a new class of therapeutics.

CONTACT

David Bumcrot (Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 551 8304; E-mail: dbumcrot@alnylam.com



[4] & [5] Quantum information: Processing with superconducting circuits (pp 438-442; 443-447; N&V)



Two research groups have successfully used a superconducting communication line to store and transfer information between distant quantum bits, or qubits, on a chip. The development reported in Nature this week is an important step towards developing quantum computers.

Previously scientists had only transferred information directly qubit to qubit in a superconducting system. Now groups led by Raymond Simmonds and Johannes Majer demonstrate that quantum coherence of the signal can be maintained over longer distances using photons. Information about the quantum state of one qubit is passed into an optical resonant cavity several millimetres long. A second qubit at the other end of the cavity retrieves the information at a later time. The technique could be scaled up, allowing a large number of qubits to communicate across an electronic chip.

CONTACT

Raymond Simmonds (National Institute of Standards and Technology, Boulder, CO, USA) Author [4]
Tel: +1 303 497 4403; E-mail: simmonds@boulder.nist.gov



Johannes Majer (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA) Author [5]

Tel: +1 203 432 2499; E-mail: johannes.majer@yale.edu



Robert Schoelkopf (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA) Co-author [5]

Tel: +1 203 432 4289; E-mail: robert.schoelkopf@yale.edu



Yasunobu Nakamura (NEC Corporation, Tsukuba, Japan) N&V author
Tel: +81 29 850 1148; E-mail: yasunobu@ce.jp.nec.com





Correspondence: Lovelock proposes global warming fix



James Lovelock outlines an emergency way to stimulate the Earth to cure itself in a Correspondence in Nature this week. The stakes are so high that we must try such schemes, even if they may fail, argue the Gaia hypothesis author and his co-author Chris Rapley.

They propose that vertical pipes be placed in the ocean, such that wave motion would pump up water from 100-200 metres depth to the surface. This would encourage algae to bloom and push carbon dioxide back down, they suggest.

Lovelock and Rapley justify the radical concept saying: “feedbacks, as well as the inertia of the Earth system and that of our response make it doubtful that any of the well-intentioned technical or social schemes for carbon dieting will restore the status quo”.

CONTACT

James Lovelock (University of Oxford, UK)

E-mail: jesjl@daisyworld.org



Chris Rapley (Science Museum, London, UK)

E-mail: chris.rapley@ScienceMuseum.org.uk





[6] Cell biology: Taking dendritic cells into medicine (pp 419-426)



The medical importance of a key component of the immune system is reviewed in this week’s Nature. Dendritic cells (DCs) — named for their tree-like or dendritic shapes — have a pivotal role in antigen recognition and the generation of an immune response, and have the capacity to either prevent or encourage disease.

In the review, Ralph Steinman and Jacques Banchereau present some of the medical implications of DC biology that account for illness and suggest opportunities for prevention and therapy. They outline recent advances in DC biology, which concern the location, maturation and specialization of these cells, and discuss the relevance of DCs to a number of medical situations. In the settings of infection and cancer, microbes and tumours can exploit DCs to evade an immune response, but DC’s can also induce resistance to infection, which can be readily enhanced with DC-targeted vaccines. During allergy, autoimmunity and transplant rejection, DCs instigate unwanted responses that cause disease, but again can be harnessed to silence these conditions with novel therapies.

The authors suggest that further research should be aimed at these key players in disease development, which represent an unavoidable target in the design of future treatments.

CONTACT

Ralph Steinman (The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 327 8106; E-mail: steinma@mail.rockefeller.edu




ALSO IN THIS ISSUE…



[7] Predicting evolutionary patterns of mammalian teeth from development (pp 427-432; N&V)



[8] Electronic and structural transitions in dense liquid sodium (pp 448-451)



[9] Millennial-scale trends in west Pacific warm pool hydrology since the Last Glacial Maximum (pp 452-455)



[10] Metal saturation in the upper mantle (pp 456-458)



[11] Rag mutations reveal robust alternative end joining (pp 483-486)





ADVANCE ONLINE PUBLICATION



***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 26 September 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 27 September, but at a later date.***



[12] Methylation of histone H3R2 by PRMT6 and H3K4 by an MLL complex are mutually exclusive

DOI: 10.1038/nature06166



[13] Arginine methylation at histone H3R2 controls deposition of H3K4 trimethylation

DOI: 10.1038/nature06160




GEOGRAPHICAL LISTING OF AUTHORS…



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.



AUSTRALIA

Hobart: 10



BELGIUM

Sart-Tilman: 8



CANADA:

Halifax: 8

Sherbrooke: 5



CHINA

Shanghai: 2



FINLAND

Helsinki: 7



GERMANY

Aachen: 12

Bonn: 10

Kulmbach: 3

Mainz: 10

Martinsried: 13

Munster: 10



ITALY

Milan: 12



MALAYSIA

Sarawak: 9



RUSSIA

Novosibirsk: 10



SWITZERLAND

Zurich: 3, 5, 10



UNITED KINGDOM

Cambridge: 13

Durham: 2



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

California

Livermore: 8

Pasadena: 9

San Diego: 11

Colorado

Boulder: 4

Connecticut

New Haven: 5

Georgia

Atlanta: 9

Massachusetts

Cambridge: 1, 3

Michigan

East Lansing: 11

New York

New York: 1, 6, 11

Stony Brook: 7

Texas

Dallas: 3, 6

Houston: 11

Wisconsin

Madison: 13





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For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: k.mcgoldrick@naturedc.com



For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: m.nakano@natureasia.com



For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Helen Jamison, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail h.jamison@nature.com





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Keywords associated to this article: Cancer, Farming, Molecular biology, Quantum information, Global warming, Cell biology
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