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Article Released Wed-15th-October-2008 17:20 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Brain–computer interfaces: Single neuron restores activity

Newsworthy papers include Braincase modification during the fish-to-tetrapod transition, Neuropsychiatric disorders, Cleaner fish twosomes make better valets, Stem cell polarity linked to ageing?, Bottoms up!, Anomalously hot Archaean mantle spawned enigmatic rocks, Diatom sequence reveals dynamic history and finally Fish swim to the beat

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This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.455 NO.7215 DATED 16 OCTOBER 2008

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Brain–computer interfaces: Single neuron restores activity

Palaeontology: Braincase modification during the fish-to-tetrapod transition

Insight: Neuropsychiatric disorders

Cooperation theory: Cleaner fish twosomes make better valets

Developmental biology: Stem cell polarity linked to ageing?

Microelectronics: Bottoms up!

Geochemistry: Anomalously hot Archaean mantle spawned enigmatic rocks

Genetics: Diatom sequence reveals dynamic history

And finally… Fish swim to the beat

· 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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[1] Brain–computer interfaces: Single neuron restores activity (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07418

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 15 October 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 16 October, but at a later date. ***

The activation of a single neuron in the brain may be enough to help restore muscle activity in the arms of paralysed patients with spinal cord injuries. The research in this week’s Nature has potential for the future treatment of spinal cord injury, stroke and other impairments affecting movement, and could lead to more natural prosthetic devices.

Using a brain–machine interface, Chet Moritz and colleagues re-routed motor cortex control signals from the brains of temporarily paralysed monkeys directly to their muscles. By creating artificial pathways for the signals to pass down, muscles that lacked natural stimulation after paralysis regained a flow of electrical signals from the brain. The monkeys were then able to tense the muscles in the paralysed arm, a first step towards producing more complicated goal-directed movements.

The team note that a neuron previously not associated with movement could be 'co-opted' to assume a new control role. This has implications for future brain–machine interface machines, which have so far focused on exploiting populations of neurons and are an important tool for the study of brain injury and motor control.

CONTACT
Chet Moritz (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
Tel: +1 206 543 2902; E-mail: ctmoritz@u.washington.edu


[2] Palaeontology: Braincase modification during the fish-to-tetrapod transition (pp 925-929)

As some marine vertebrates started to evolve into limbed land dwellers some 370 million years ago, features of their heads gradually adapted to the different feeding and respiration conditions of a terrestrial environment. The braincase of a creature known as Tiktaalik roseae offers a detailed insight into this transition and is described in Nature this week.

Tiktaalik roseae originated in the Devonian period some 370 million years ago, and represents an intermediate form between fishes and tetrapods. Jason Downs and colleagues present a detailed three-dimensional examination of Tiktaalik roseae’s cranial endoskeleton, which shows features indicating a reduced reliance on water breathing, a change in head mobility, and cranial proportions similar to those of tetrapods.

These modifications may reflect evolutionary changes that took place during the vertebrate transition into shallow waters. Tiktaalik roseae probably inhabited the mudflats of freshwater floodplains, which became the cradle of an amphibious lifestyle.

CONTACT
Jason Downs (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Tel: +1 215 299 1121; E-mail: downs@ansp.org

Insight: Neuropsychiatric disorders (pp 889-923)

Despite advances in medicine and health care in the past century, mental illness remains little understood. An Insight in this week’s Nature takes an optimistic look at how large-scale studies are making progress in identifying the responsible genes and genetic variants, and how hypotheses about underlying neuropathology are being tested. The hope is that developments like these could lead to better approaches and therapeutic strategies for mental illness.

Steven Hyman gives an overview of the areas of promise, describing how the current glimmer of light will lead to a new dawn for the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Edwin Cook and Stephen Scherer look at a recent wave of research in neuropsychiatric genetics, focusing on copy-number variations and what the race to discover them is revealing about mental illness and its complexity. Melissa Ramocki and Huda Zoghbi discuss how finely balanced genomic variation, gene expression and gene function may be crucial for normal brain development and the nervous system.

Also in the Insight are articles looking at synaptic function and cognitive disease and the molecular neurobiology of depression.

CONTACT
Steven Hyman (Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 496 5100; E-mail: seh@harvard.edu

Stephen Scherer (Center for Applied Genomics, Toronto, Canada)
Tel: +1 416 813 7613; E-mail: steve@genet.sickkids.on.ca

Edwin Cook (University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 312 413 4537; E-mail: ecook@psych.uic.edu

Melissa Ramocki (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 832 822 1750; E-mail: mramocki@bcm.tmc.edu

Huda Zoghbi (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 713 798 6558; E-mail: hzoghbi@bcm.tmc.edu

[3] Cooperation theory: Cleaner fish twosomes make better valets (pp 964-966)

Do partners provide a better service when they work together than they would individually? Yes, according to a paper in this week’s Nature that examines the cleaning service provided by the fish Labroides dimidiatus to its client reef fish.

‘Cleaner’ fish work together in male–female pairs, removing and eating the skin parasites present on the client fish. Sometimes, however, one will cheat and start guzzling the client’s skin mucus instead, causing the client to register its dissatisfaction by leaving abruptly and the conscientious cleaner to miss out on the final course of its meal.

Redouan Bshary and colleagues use mathematical modelling to weigh up the various associated pay-offs for clients and for cleaners working either alone or in pairs. They show that the quality of the service provided by a pair is much better, provided that the client determines the duration of the process and that the cleaners work as a team to cooperate towards mutual gain.

These theoretical findings are in line with field observations and should help to make more quantitative predictions about cooperation between species.

CONTACT
Redouan Bshary (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland)
Tel: +41 32 718 3005; E-mail: redouan.bshary@unine.ch

[4] Developmental biology: Stem cell polarity linked to ageing? (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07386

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 15 October 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 16 October, but at a later date. ***

The way that a stem cell is oriented with respect to its cellular environment can influence its regenerative potential, suggests a paper published online in Nature.

Yukiko Yamashita and colleagues studied germline stem cells (GSCs) in the Drosophila testis, and found that the number of ‘misoriented’ GSCs increases with age. Stem cells normally divide asymmetrically to produce an identical copy of themselves and a more specialized or 'differentiated' daughter cell. The misoriented cells divide less frequently compared with oriented cells, so it's thought that their build up may contribute to the decline in sperm production that occurs with age.

CONTACT
Yukiko Yamashita (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
Tel: +1 734 615 8508; E-mail: yukikomy@umich.edu

[5] Microelectronics: Bottoms up! (pp 956-959)

Researchers working on microelectronics have long sought to capture the property that some molecules have of assembling themselves without human intervention — a feat that would allow the manufacture of key device structures. A paper in this week’s Nature reports the successful application of such a 'bottom-up' approach in creating an organic integrated circuit.

Single self-assembled layers of molecules have been used in transistors in the past, but the properties of the devices were disappointing — mainly because of defects in the monolayers and poor electronic coupling between molecules.

Dago de Leeuw and colleagues have overcome these limitations by carefully ‘tuning’ the properties of the molecules through chemical design to ensure dense, highly ordered packing in the self-assembled monolayer.

They demonstrate the good electrical performance and high reproducibility of the resulting devices by combining more than 300 of them into a functional integrated circuit. The results open the way for fabricating organic electronics using self-assembly production technology.

CONTACT
Dago de Leeuw (Phillips Research Laboratories, Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Tel: +31 40 274 2547; E-mail: dago.de.leeuw@philips.com

[6] Geochemistry: Anomalously hot Archaean mantle spawned enigmatic rocks (pp 960-963; N&V)

The Earth’s mantle is likely to have been hot during the Archaean Era, as evidenced by the enigmatic komatiite volcanic rocks, a paper in this week’s Nature suggests.

Komatiites are mantle-derived rocks, mainly of Archaean age, whose origin has been debated. Some think they were formed by anhydrous melting of an unusually hot mantle, others that they were produced by hydrous melting at temperatures only modestly greater than those found today.

Andrew Berry and colleagues measured the iron oxidation state of melt inclusions trapped in olivine crystals of a 2.7-billion-year-old Zimbabwean komatiite and deduce they were formed by near-anhydrous melting of a source with similar oxidation state to that of present-day ocean-floor basalt. This suggests that the komatiite was formed when the Earth’s mantle was unusually hot, around 1,700 ˚C, rather than melting under hydrous conditions at only slightly higher temperatures than found today.

CONTACT
Andrew Berry (The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK)
Tel: +44 1223 494954; E-mail: aeb@sanger.ac.uk

William McDonough (University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 301 405 5561; E-mail: mcdonough@geol.umd.edu


[7] Genetics: Diatom sequence reveals dynamic history (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07410

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 15 October 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 16 October, but at a later date. ***

The genome of the marine-dwelling diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum is revealed in this week’s Nature, chronicling an unusually dynamic evolutionary past and helping to explain how these pervasive algae dominate today’s oceans.

P. tricornutum is the second diatom genome to be sequenced, but the first pennate diatom — a subgroup of bilaterally symmetrical phytoplankton. Chris Bowler and colleagues compared its sequence against that of the first sequenced diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana, revealing notably different genome structures despite their relatively recent divergence around 90 million years ago.

Intriguingly, both genomes contain hundreds of bacterial genes. Such horizontal gene transfer is thought to be a rare and specialized event in eukaryotes, but this study suggests that it happened many times during diatom evolution. The result is an unorthodox mix of genes that are predicted to have major roles in nutrient management and environmental signalling.

CONTACT
Chris Bowler (Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France)
Tel: +33 144 32 35 25; E-mail: cbowler@biologie.ens.fr

[8] And finally… Fish swim to the beat (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07351

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 15 October 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 16 October, but at a later date. ***

A neural ‘metronome’ may help fish to remember rhythm over relatively long time periods, a Nature study reveals. When the beat stops, the animals often continue to wag their tails in time to the rhythm.

Mu-ming Poo and colleagues have identified a group of neurons in the optic tectum of zebrafish that ‘remember’ the time interval of rhythmic sensory stimuli over a timescale of seconds. Several neuronal circuits have been shown to process temporal information before, but only on a timescale of microseconds to milliseconds.

The fact that the fish flip their tails after the rhythm has stopped suggests that they can remember the time interval, which is important because keeping track of time is essential for many aspects of perception and cognition.

CONTACT
Mu-ming Poo (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 510 642 2514; E-mail: mpoo@berkeley.edu

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE…

[9] Structure of a complex of the ATPase SecA and the protein-translocation channel (pp 936-943; N&V)

[10] A low-frequency radio halo associated with a cluster of galaxies (pp 944-947)

[11] Spontaneous vortices in the formation of Bose–Einstein condensates (pp 948-951; N&V)

[12] Quantum oscillations in an overdoped high-Tc superconductor (pp 952-955)

[13] Somatic and germline activating mutations of the ALK kinase receptor in neuroblastoma (pp 967-970; N&V)

[14] Oncogenic mutations of ALK kinase in neuroblastoma (pp 971-974; N&V)

[15] Activating mutations in ALK provide a therapeutic target in neuroblastoma (pp 975-978; N&V)

[16] A role for the two-helix finger of the SecA ATPase in protein translocation (pp 984-987; N&V)

[17] Conformational transition of Sec machinery inferred from bacterial SecYE structures (pp 988-991; N&V)

ADVANCE ONLINE PUBLICATION

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 15 October 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 16 October, but at a later date. ***

[18] Crystal structure of a stable dimer reveals the molecular basis of serpin polymerization
DOI: 10.1038/nature07394

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
Brisbane: 11
Canberra: 6
Hobart: 6
Melbourne: 4

AUSTRIA
Graz: 5

BELGIUM
Ghent: 7

CANADA:
Vancouver: 7

CZECH REPUBLIC
Ceske Budejovice: 7

FRANCE
Evry: 7
Lyon: 13
Marseille:
Nantes: 7
Paris: 7, 8, 13
Roscoff: 7
Rouen : 13
Saint-Paul-lez-Durance: 7
Toulouse: 12
Villejuif : 13

GERMANY
Bremerhaven: 7
Kiel: 7
Leverkusen: 5
Konstanz: 7

ISRAEL
Jerusalem: 7

ITALY
Bologna: 10
Naples: 7

JAPAN
Chiba: 14
Kyoto: 17
Saitama: 14, 17
Shibukawa: 14
Togichi: 14
Tokyo: 14, 17
Yokohama: 17

NETHERLANDS
Eindhoven: 5
Groningen: 5

NEW ZEALAND
Dunedin: 11

POLAND
Poznan: 7

RUSSIA
Moscow: 5

SWEDEN
Stockholm: 3

SWITZERLAND
Neuchatel: 3

UNITED KINGDOM
Bristol: 12
Cambridge: 18
London: 6
Norwich: 7
Oban: 7
Plymouth: 7
St Andrews: 12

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Alabama
Birmingham: 17

Arizona
Tucson: 7, 11

California
Berkeley: 8
Palo Alto: 7
San Diego: 7, 15
San Francisco: 8
Stanford: 4
Walnut Creek: 7

District of Columbia
Washington: 10

Florida
Gainesville: 15

Georgia
Atlanta: 7

Illinois
Chicago: 2, 6, 16

Massachusetts
Boston: 9, 15, 16
Cambridge: 2, 10, 15

Michigan
Ann Arbor: 4

New Jersey
New Brunswick: 7

North Carolina
Wilmington: 7

Pennsylvania
Philadelphia: 2

Rhode Island
Kingston: 7
Narragansett: 7

Tennessee
Memphis: 15

Virginia
Charlottesville: 10

Washington
Seattle: 1, 7

Wisconsin
Madison: 7
Milwaukee: 7

PRESS CONTACTS…

From North America and Canada
Katherine Anderson, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: k.anderson@natureny.com

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington
Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: k.mcgoldrick@naturedc.com

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: m.nakano@natureasia.com

From the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Jen Middleton, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail j.middleton@nature.com

About Nature Publishing Group (NPG):

Nature Publishing Group is a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, dedicated to serving the academic and professional scientific and medical communities. NPG’s flagship title, Nature, was first published in 1869. Other publications include Nature research journals, Nature Reviews, Nature Clinical Practice and a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. NPG also provides news content through Nature News. Scientific career information and free job postings are offered on Naturejobs.

NPG is a global company with principal offices in London and New York and offices in Basingstoke, Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Melbourne, Munich, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington DC. For more information, please go to www.nature.com.

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Keywords associated to this article: Brain–computer interfaces, Palaeontology, Neuropsychiatric disorders, Cooperation theory, Developmental biology, Microelectronics, Geochemistry, Genetics, fish, rhythm
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