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Article Released Sun-15th-June-2008 18:54 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Arthritis drug may help combat kidney disease

Summaries of papers include Resolving photon numbers, Microstructures stay on track, Muscle degeneration, Measuring glacial deep-water flow, The unexpected metal, Seafloor’s influence on biodiversity and Expressing fear enhances perception


For papers that will be published online on 15 June 2008

This press release is copyrighted to the Nature journals mentioned below.

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Medicine: Arthritis drug may help combat kidney disease

Photonics: Resolving photon numbers

Materials: Microstructures stay on track

Nature: Muscle degeneration

Geoscience: Measuring glacial deep-water flow

Materials: The unexpected metal

Nature: Seafloor’s influence on biodiversity

And finally…Neuroscience: Expressing fear enhances perception

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

· Geographical listing of authors

PDFs of all the papers mentioned on this release can be found in the relevant journal’s section of Press contacts for the Nature journals are listed at the end of this release.

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*******************************************Nature MEDICINE********************************************

[1] Medicine: Arthritis drug may help combat kidney disease
DOI: 10.1038/nm1783

A drug currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis could be used to treat people with a genetic kidney disease reports a study published online this week in Nature Medicine.

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), a condition characterized by the formation of cysts in the kidneys, is caused by mutations in the genes that encode the proteins polycystin-1 and -2. Rong Li and colleagues show that tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), an inflammatory signalling protein present in the cystic fluid of humans with ADPKD, disrupts the accumulation of polycystin-2 to the cell membrane and primary cilia.

Giving TNF-alpha to mice susceptible to developing cysts, owing a mutation in the gene coding for polycystin-2, resulted in the intensification of disease. By contrast, treatment of the same mice with the TNF-alpha inhibitor etanercept, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, prevented cyst formation.

These data reveal a pathway connecting TNF-alpha, the polycystins and cystogenesis, and suggest that etanercept might be useful to treat people with ADPKD.

Author contact:
Rong Li (Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO, USA)
Tel: +1 816 926 4340; E-mail:

[2] Photonics: Resolving photon numbers
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2008.101

Determining the exact number of photons in a very weak light pulse is important for performing reliable experiments in quantum optics and computing. A paper published online this week in Nature Photonics reveals a design for ‘photon-number-resolving detectors’ that is simple, efficient and compatible with cost-effective mass production.

So far, photon-number-resolving detectors have been complex and suffered from issues such as a poor efficiency, the need for cooling to cryogenic temperatures, or a slow response time. Andrew Shields and co-workers report a specially adapted avalanche-photodiode detector, showing that it is able to discriminate between weak laser pulses containing different numbers of photons, such as 0, 1, 2 or 3, and fractional averages within this range.

Avalanche photodiodes are routinely used to detect weak light signals. They rely on an avalanche multiplication effect in which a single photon generates a large number of electrons, and therefore an electrical current that is easy to detect. Usually this avalanche effect masks the actual number of photons received and makes determining the exact number received impossible. The researchers solved this problem by implementing an electronic circuit that measures the avalanche currents at a much earlier stage in their development, allowing the number of photons striking the detector to be determined.

Author contact:
Andrew Shields (Toshiba Research Europe, Cambridge, UK)
Tel: +44 1223 436 930; E-mail:

[3] Materials: Microstructures stay on track
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2208

A technique for the self-assembly of polymeric microstructures, which works by using a guiding ‘rail’ mechanism, is reported online this week in Nature Materials. The method could be used for manufacturing two-dimensional patterns of living cells for tissue engineering and manipulating silicon devices for microchip packaging.

On the micrometre scale, conventional assembly techniques such as robotics are often not applicable, and can result in errors in the final product. Sunghoon Kwon and colleagues devised a way to guide the assembly of microstructures within microfluidic channels, and make complex structures composed of more than 50 individual ones. All the microstructures used at the start of the process are incorporated in the product and different shapes can also be guided to specific locations, allowing the construction of two-dimensional representations of, for example, the Eiffel Tower, a Greek temple and a computer keyboard.

The method works by introducing a groove or ‘rail’ into the top surface of the channels and a complementary shape in the polymeric microstructure. In contrast to other fluidic assembly routes, the structures are guided along the rail rather than moving in the exact direction of fluid flow in the channel.

Author contact:
Sunghoon Kwon (Seoul National University, Kwanak-ku, Seoul, South Korea)
Tel: +82 2 880 9118; E-mail:

[4] Nature: Muscle degeneration
DOI: 10.1038/nature07034

Researchers have identified a molecule that is involved in muscle ageing, and show that a balance between this and another known factor interferes with regeneration. The work, published online in Nature this week, suggests that this is a self-imposed inhibition that may have a role in ageing of other organs.

As muscle ages, it gradually loses its ability to repair itself. Irina Conboy and colleagues demonstrate that aged muscle produces high levels of TGF-beta, which leads to overactivation of pSmad3 in muscle stem cells, and show that this blocks regeneration. A molecule, Notch, is known to decrease as muscle ages, and the team shows that the balance between this and Smad3 controls the regenerative abilities of muscle stem cells. Once Notch decreases, the deregulation of the balance in the old muscle interferes with regeneration by regulating proteins that control the cell cycle.

Author contact:
Irina Conboy (University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 510 666 2792; E-mail:

[5] Geoscience: Measuring glacial deep-water flow
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo227

During the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago, northern North Atlantic surface waters were sinking to depth and flowing south along the seafloor at comparable rates to today. According to a new study published online this week in Nature Geoscience, episodic reductions in the strength of this overturning circulation were associated with abrupt climate change events.

Summer Praetorius and colleagues analysed sediment grain sizes and carbon isotopes in bottom-dwelling microorganisms to assess changes in flow strength of North Atlantic deep and intermediate waters for the past 25,000 years. They found periodic reductions in the flow strength, particularly during the transition from glacial to interglacial conditions. These reductions were associated with Northern Hemisphere cooling events, such as the Younger Dryas cold reversal. The team also found a reduction in flow that may be linked to the final glacial outburst flood 8,200 years ago.

The authors suggest that episodic reductions in the strength of bottom water currents were associated with a decrease in North Atlantic overturning circulation and abrupt climate change events.

Author contact:
Summer Praetorius (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 508 289 3745; E-mail:

[6] Materials: The unexpected metal
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2205

Placing two different organic insulators in contact creates a metallic channel at the interface, resulting in the formation of new electronic states, reports a study online this week in Nature Materials. These electronic states are not achievable in the bulk material and provide new ways of researching organic electronics.

Alberto Morpurgo and colleagues used a simple technique to bring the organic crystals known as TTF and TCNQ in direct mechanical contact. These crystals are very good insulators, but when placed next to each other, electrons from TTF can transfer to TCNQ thus creating a population of mobile electronic charges.

As Jochen Mannhart discusses in a linked News & Views article, these results promise new routes for research in organic electronics.

Author contact:
Alberto Morpurgo (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)
Tel: +31 15 27 86063; E-mail:

News and Views author contact:
Jochen Mannhart (Lehrstuhl fuer Experimentalphysik, Augsburg, Germany)
Tel: +49 821 598 3652; E-mail:

[7] Nature: Seafloor’s influence on biodiversity
DOI: 10.1038/nature07032

Patterns of marine diversity, including those observed at the major mass extinctions, may be driven by environmental dynamics related to sediment supply and sea level. Research published online this week in Nature suggests that changes in certain shallow sea habitats, as well as correlated environmental effects, have influenced rates of extinction and extinction selectivity.

It has long been known that seafloor communities in the Palaeozoic era differed markedly from the subsequent Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. Shanan Peters measured two distinct types of physical habitat that are relevant to marine life: carbonates and siliciclastics. He shows that two major groups of marine animals — Palaeozoic and modern faunae — exhibit affinities for one of the two habitats, and finds that in the Palaeozoic, sea floors were mostly based on carbonates, whereas succeeding ones were generally sandy.

These environmental factors seem to have influenced the evolution of biological communities through geological time.

Author contact:
Shanan Peters (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA)
Tel: +1 608 262 5987; E-mail:

[8] And finally…Neuroscience: Expressing fear enhances perception
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2138

Are emotional facial expressions such as fear or disgust created by chance? A study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience provides evidence for the suggestion, first made by Charles Darwin, that emotional facial expressions have not evolved randomly, but that they serve to alter sensory experience.

Joshua Susskind and colleagues found that when people pose expressions of fear, they have a subjectively larger range of vision, faster eye movements, and an increase in nasal volume and air velocity during breathing in. While posing fear expressions, people were also able to detect targets which were further away. Expressions of disgust, which are objectively opposite to fear, produced opposite results, with people reporting a subjectively smaller range of vision and a decrease in nasal volume.

These results suggest that fear works to enhance perception of external information, whereas disgust decreases perception.

Author contact:
Joshua Susskind (University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Tel: +1 416 946 0207; E-mail:


Items from other Nature journals to be published online at the same time and with the same embargo:

Nature (

[9] Positive feedback sharpens the anaphase switch
DOI: 10.1038/nature07050


[10] RhoA and microtubule dynamics control cell–basement membrane interaction in EMT during gastrulation
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1739

[11] Beclin1-binding UVRAG targets the class C Vps complex to coordinate autophagosome maturation and endocytic trafficking
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1740

[12] Genomic stability and tumour suppression by the APC/C cofactor Cdh1
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1742

[13] Nitric oxide-induced nuclear GAPDH activates p300/CBP and mediates apoptosis
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1747


[14] Small-molecule activation of neuronal cell fate
DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.95


[15] Dishevelled controls apical docking and planar polarization of basal bodies in ciliated epithelial cells
DOI: 10.1038/ng.104

[16] Integrating large-scale functional genomic data to dissect the complexity of yeast regulatory networks
DOI: 10.1038/ng.167

[17] Combinatorial patterns of histone acetylations and methylations in the human genome
DOI: 10.1038/ng.154


[18] Charge-order fluctuations in one-dimensional silicides
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2209

[19] Organic non-volatile memories from ferroelectric phase-separated blends
DOI: 10.1038/nmat2207


[20] Dose-response curve slope sets class-specific limits on inhibitory potential of anti-HIV drugs
DOI: 10.1038/nm1777


[21] Isoform discovery by targeted cloning, “deep well” pooling, and parallel sequencing
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1224

[22] Transgenesis via permanent-integration of genes in repopulating spermatogonial cells in vivo
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1225

[23] Functional immobilization of signaling proteins enables control of stem cell fate
DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1222


[24] Memristive switching mechanism for metal/oxide/metal nanodevices
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.160

[25] Individually addressable epitaxial ferroelectric nanocapacitor arrays with near Tb inch–2 density
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.161

[26] Prediction of very large values of magnetoresistance in a graphene nanoribbon device
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2008.163


[27] Population imaging of ongoing neuronal activity in visual cortex of the awake rats
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2140

[28] A disproportionate role for the fornix and mammillary bodies in recall versus recognition memory
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2149

[29] Direct measurement of somatic voltage clamp errors in central neurons
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2137

[30] The orexigenic hormone ghrelin defends against depressive symptoms of chronic stress
DOI: 10.1038/nn.2139


[31] Resonance-driven random lasing
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2008.102

[32] Subwavelength colour imaging with a metallic nanolens
DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2008.103

Nature PHYSICS (

[33] An off-board quantum point contact as a sensitive detector of cantilever motion
DOI: 10.1038/nphys992

[34] Gate-induced quantum-confinement transition of a single dopant atom in a silicon FinFET
DOI: 10.1038/nphys994

[35] Localization and loss of coherence in molecular double-slit experiments
DOI: 10.1038/nphys993

[36] Singlet–triplet physics and shell filling in carbon nanotube double quantum dots
DOI: 10.1038/nphys987


[37] Supramolecular SNARE assembly precedes hemifusion in SNARE-mediated membrane fusion
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1433

[38] Capped small RNAs and MOV10 in human hepatitis delta virus replication
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1440

[39] Complexin and Ca2+ stimulate SNARE-mediated membrane fusion
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1446

[40] Global identification of microRNA–target RNA pairs by analysis of RNA ends
DOI: 10.1038/nbt1417


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. 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.

Melbourne: 34

Leuven: 34

Toronto: 8, 23

Anhui: 18

Rijeka: 35

Copenhagen: 36

Bordeaux: 12

Berlin: 27, 35
Dresden: 23
Frankfurt: 35
Garching: 35
Hamburg: 35
Halle: 25
Heidelberg: 27
Tubingen: 27

New Delhi: 22

Florence: 31

Hyogo: 10
Osaka: 32
Saitama: 32
Tokyo: 11

Delft: 6, 34
Eindhoven: 19
Groningen: 19
Rotterdam: 27

Daejeon: 25, 39
Pohang: 25, 26
Seoul: 3

Madrid: 12, 31
Salamanca: 12

Kista: 35

Cambridge: 2, 29, 36
Cardiff: 28
Liverpool: 28
Manchester: 28


Birmingham: 20

Berkeley: 4, 16, 35
Hayward: 40
La Jolla: 15
Los Angeles: 11
Palo Alto: 24
Pasadena: 34, 35
San Francisco: 9
San Jose: 33
Stanford: 33, 38

New Haven: 20

Newark: 40

District of Columbia
Washington: 17

Urbana: 39

West Lafayette: 34

Ames: 37, 39

New Orleans: 35

Baltimore: 13, 20
Bethesda: 17

Beverly: 21
Boston: 21
Southborough: 11
Woods Hole: 5

Kalamazoo: 35

Kansas City: 1

New Jersey
Princeton: 16

New Mexico
Albuquerque: 11

New York
Cold Spring Harbor: 17
New York: 17

North Carolina
Durham: 13

Knoxville: 18
Oak Ridge: 18

Austin: 15
Dallas: 11, 14, 30

Seattle: 16

Madison: 7


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Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail:

Katherine Anderson (Nature New York)
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail:

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Tel: +44 20 7843 4562; E-mail:

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Nature Biotechnology (New York)
Peter Hare
Tel: +1 212 726 9284; E-mail:

Nature Cell Biology (London)
Bernd Pulverer
Tel: +44 20 7843 4892; E-mail:

Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Andrea Garvey
Tel: +1 617 475 9241, E-mail:

Nature Genetics (New York)
Orli Bahcall
Tel: +1 212 726 9311; E-mail:

Nature Geoscience (London)
Heike Langenberg
Tel: +44 20 7843 4042; E-mail:

Nature Immunology (New York)
Laurie Dempsey
Tel: +1 212 726 9372; E-mail:

Nature Materials (London)
Alison Stoddart
Tel: +44 20 7843 4593; E-mail:

Nature Medicine (New York)
Juan Carlos Lopez
Tel: +1 212 726 9325; E-mail:

Nature Methods (New York)
Hugh Ash
Tel: +1 212 726 9627; E-mail:

Nature Nanotechnology (London)
Peter Rodgers
Tel: +44 20 7014 4019; Email:

Nature Neuroscience (New York)
Kalyani Narasimhan
Tel: +1 212 726 9319; E-mail:

Nature Photonics (Tokyo)
Oliver Graydon
Tel: +81 3 3267 8776; E-mail:

Nature Physics (London)
Alison Wright
Tel: +44 20 7843 4555; E-mail:

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (New York)
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Tel: +1 212 726 9326; E-mail:

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Keywords associated to this article: Arthritis drug, kidney disease, photonics, Microstructures, Muscle degeneration, glacial flow, metals, biodiversity, neuroscience
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