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Article Released Wed-26th-November-2008 18:06 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Water vapour jets on Enceladus

Summaries of newsworthy papers: Protein complex influences body clocks and metabolism, The rise and fall of thermotolerance, Photons drive tiny device, Binding too tight, Atom economy raises the stakes, Earliest evidence of subduction?, Iron storage in phytoplankton, Unexpected organic-matter-munchers live in deep waters and Heroes in a half shell

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This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.456 NO.7220 DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2008


This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Astrophysics: Water vapour jets on Enceladus

Circadian rhythms: Protein complex influences body clocks and metabolism

Evolution: The rise and fall of thermotolerance

Photonics: Photons drive tiny device

Autoimmunity: Binding too tight

Organic chemistry: Atom economy raises the stakes

Geoscience: Earliest evidence of subduction?

Microbiology: Iron storage in phytoplankton

Microbiology: Unexpected organic-matter-munchers live in deep waters

And finally… Heroes in a half shell

· 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] Astrophysics: Water vapour jets on Enceladus (pp 477-479)

There are jets inside the water vapour plume of Enceladus, a Nature study concludes.

When the Cassini spacecraft flew by one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, in 2005, it observed a plume of water vapour escaping from fissures near the moon’s south pole. But the source and nature of the plume remained unclear.

Candice Hansen and colleagues spotted four high-density gas jets superimposed on the background plume. These gas jets coincide in position with dust jets reported earlier. They suggest that the source of the plume is liquid water, with gas accelerated to supersonic velocity in nozzle-like channels.

CONTACT
Candice Hansen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 818 354 7675; E-mail: candice.j.hansen@jpl.nasa.gov


[2] Circadian rhythms: Protein complex influences body clocks and metabolism (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07541

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

A protein complex that helps regulate circadian rhythms and metabolism is revealed in this week’s Nature.

The complex consists of the nuclear receptor co-repressor 1 (NCor1) — a protein involved in embryonic development — bound to the chromatin modifying enzyme histone deacetylase 3 (Hdac3). Mitchell Lazar and colleagues created genetically modified mice in which Ncor1 cannot bind to and activate Hdac3. The animals had altered levels of clock gene expression, were leaner, were more insulin-sensitive and showed altered expression of several metabolic genes.

The findings suggest that interfering with histones — the DNA ‘spools’ found in chromosomes — can influence body clocks and metabolism. This is intriguing because the change is an epigenetic one, whereby changes in gene expression are caused by something other than alterations in DNA sequence.

CONTACT
Mitchell Lazar (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia PA, USA)
Tel: +1 215 898 0210; E-mail: lazar@mail.med.upenn.edu


[3] Evolution: The rise and fall of thermotolerance (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07393

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

Life on Earth first diversified at moderate temperatures, then had to adapt to much hotter environments before gradually reaching present-day conditions, a Nature paper suggests.

Manolo Gouy and colleagues used protein and RNA sequences to infer the ecology of the last universal common ancestor (LUCA), a single-celled organism that lived around 3.5 billion years ago. They reveal two phases of environmental temperature change. Thermotolerance first increased —- the LUCA evolved from an organism living at temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius or less to one that thrived at extremes of over 70 degrees Celsius — and then fell.

Previous phylogeny-driven reconstructions of ancestral protein sequences predicted that the LUCA thrived at high temperatures, but RNA analyses suggested that the organism preferred a cooler environment. This study helps unify these apparently contradictory results.

CONTACT
Manolo Gouy (Université Claude Bernard - Lyon I, Villeurbanne, France)
Tel : +33 4 72 43 12 87; E-mail : mgouy@biomserv.univ-lyon1.fr


[4] Photonics: Photons drive tiny device (pp 480-484; N&V)

Optical forces have been used to drive a nanoscale mechanical device, which is described in this week’s Nature.

Photons exert forces that can be used to manipulate matter. Hong Tang and colleagues have made a nano-sized integrated silicon photonic circuit that exploits and detects these optical forces. The device contains a nanomechanical resonator formed from a thin strip of free-standing material that is at the same time a waveguide for light. It bends when light is shone on it and the optical force causing this can be measured as a change in the coupling between the strip and the underlying substrate.

The device works on the same principle as optical tweezers, which use light to manipulate micro-sized particles, but here, light forces are harnessed in a nanoscale device. The authors think that the substantial bandwidth and design flexibility may lead to useful new semiconductor-based devices.

CONTACT
Hong Tang (Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA)
Tel: +1 203 432 4256; E-mail: hong.tang@yale.edu

Tobias Kippenberg (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland) N&V author
Tel: +41 21 69 34428; E-mail: tobias.kippenberg@epfl.ch


[5] Autoimmunity: Binding too tight (pp 534-538)

An explanation for the link between a certain tissue type and coeliac disease is described this week in Nature. The type has previously been linked to the disease but until now researchers have struggled to explain why.

Coeliac disease is caused by an inappropriate immune reaction to gluten — a protein found in wheat — and is more common in people of a certain tissue type. An individual’s tissue type is defined by a family of proteins expressed on the surface of cells, known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). It has long been known that a certain type of MHC — HLA-DQ8 — predisposes to coeliac disease but it was not clear why.

The MHC acts as a molecular display case, presenting pieces of proteins to the immune system, which then decides whether or not to react. Bana Jabri and colleagues find that the structure of HLA-DQ8 allows it to bind to fragments of gluten that cannot bind to other types of MHC. These are recognized by a population of T cells, which set about initiating an adverse immune reaction. This immune reaction also activates an enzyme — transglutaminase — that modifies the structure of gluten fragments such that they are able to bind more tightly to HLA-DQ8. The team find that this activates more T cells and establishes a vicious cycle of disease.

Jabri and colleagues believe that similar mechanisms could explain links between tissue types and other autoimmune diseases.

CONTACT
Bana Jabri (University of Chicago, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 773 834 8670; E-mail: bjabri@bsd.uchicago.edu


[6] Organic Chemistry: Atom economy raises the stakes (pp 485-488; N&V)

An efficient method for making bryostatin 16 — a naturally occurring compound belonging to a class of molecules that have been investigated for their anticancer abilities — is revealed in this week’s Nature. The waste-limiting procedure shaves off almost half the number of steps used in previous syntheses of bryostatin molecules.

The new method, designed by Barry Trost and Guangbin Dong, uses just 39 steps in total, in comparison with previous attempts that used 70 or more. It is also ‘atom economical’, with many steps designed to ensure that most of the atoms present in the reactants also end up in the product.

Key steps in the synthesis are two transition-metal-catalysed reactions. One is a palladium-catalysed reaction between two different alkynes — hydrocarbons containing carbon–carbon triple bonds — to form a large ring. A smaller ring is then formed in the second key reaction, which is catalysed by a gold compound.

CONTACT
Barry Trost (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 650 723 3385; E-mail: bmtrost@stanford.edu

Guangbin Dong (Stanford University, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 650 723 8409; E-mail: gbdong@stanford.edu

Andre Charette (University of Montreal, Canada) N&V author
Tel: +1 514 343 6283; E-mail: andre.charette@umontreal.ca


[7] Geoscience: Earliest evidence of subduction? (pp 493-496)

The subduction of tectonic plates may have already been established over 4 billion years ago, a Nature paper suggests. The finding is surprising, as there is no other evidence for plate tectonics so early in Earth’s history.

Mark Harrison and colleagues analysed mineral inclusions found in zircons from the Jack Hills, Western Australia. The rocks date back to the Hadean eon, which spans the first 600 million years of the Earth’s history. Their results suggest that heat flow at some parts of the Earth’s surface was low, relative to estimates of global heat flow at that time. And as the only locations on the Earth now with such relatively low thermal gradients are above subduction zones — where one tectonic plate dives under another — the authors suggest their data indicate the presence of such convergence zones on the early Earth.

CONTACT
Mark Harrison (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 310 825 7970; E-mail: tmh@oro.ess.ucla.edu


[8] Microbiology: Iron storage in phytoplankton (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07539

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

An iron-concentrating protein may help some ocean phytoplankton survive harsh times, reports a paper published online by Nature this week.

Phytoplankton — single-celled ocean algae responsible for much of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere — need iron to survive, but large areas of the world’s oceans are iron-poor and only receive intermittent pulses of this micronutrient. Virginia Armbrust and colleagues report that bloom-forming pennate diatoms use ferritin to store iron, and this may help these phytoplankton survive in iron-limited waters.

CONTACT
Virginia Armbrust (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
Tel: +1 206 616 1783; E-mail: armbrust@ocean.washington.edu


[9] Microbiology: Unexpected organic-matter-munchers live in deep waters (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07535

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

The single-celled microorganisms Crenarchaeota are key players in the conversion of ammonia to nitrite in oceans and soil. A Nature paper now suggests that some abundant marine members of this group may derive their energy source from elsewhere. The results provide insight into the physiology of this important group of microorganisms and its impact on global nutrient cycles.

Aerobic nitrification of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate is an important part of the oceanic nitrogen cycle. However, studies looking at the ammonia-oxidizing abilities of Crenarchaeota have focussed on surface and shallow waters. Hélène Agogué and colleagues analysed ammonia-oxidizing genes from Crenarchaeota living over 1,000 metres down in the North Atlantic Ocean where ammonia concentrations are extremely low. Here, a significant proportion of marine Crenarchaeota lack the genes required for ammonia oxidation, suggesting that they are likely to use organic matter as their energy source.

CONTACT
Hélène Agogué (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, Netherlands)
Tel: +31 222 369 380; E-mail: agogue@nioz.nl


[10] And finally… Heroes in a half shell (pp 497-501; N&V)

The most primitive species of turtle discovered so far is described in this week’s Nature. The 220-million-year-old fossil is remarkably well preserved and sheds light on one of the big mysteries in reptile evolution: how the turtle’s shell and body developed.

Discovered in marine deposits of the Late Triassic of southwestern China, Chun Li and colleagues describe how the new species has expanded dorsal ribs but no shell on its back, known as the carapace. It does have a fully developed plastron — the flat belly part of a turtle’s shell — which suggests that the first step in carapace formation is the neural plates becoming bone, and a broadening of the ribs. This corresponds with the early development of carapace formation in young turtles today, and shows that the turtle shell is not derived solely from a fusion of bony plates in the skin.

CONTACT
Chun Li (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Tel: +86 10 88 36 94 38; E-mail: lichun@ivpp.ac.cn

Robert Reisz (University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada) N&V author
Tel: +1 905 828 3982; E-mail: robert.reisz@utoronto.ca

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE…

[11] Gibberellin-induced DELLA recognition by the gibberellin receptor GID1 (pp 459-463; N&V)

[12] Agulhas leakage dynamics affects decadal variability in Atlantic overturning circulation (pp 489-492)

[13] Structural basis for gibberellin recognition by its receptor GID1 (pp 520-523; N&V)

ADVANCE ONLINE PUBLICATION

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

[14] Role for Spi-C in the development of red pulp macrophages and splenic iron homeostasis
DOI: 10.1038/nature07472

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.

AUSTRIA
Vienna: 9

CANADA:
Montreal: 3
Ottawa: 10
Vancouver: 8

CHINA
Beijing: 10
Hangzhou: 10

FRANCE
Montpellier: 3
Villeurbane: 3

GERMANY
Kiel: 12

JAPAN
Ikoma: 11
Kyoto: 13
Nagasaki:
Nagoya: 13
Sayo-gun: 13

NETHERLANDS
Den Burg: 9
Leiden: 5

NORWAY
Oslo: 5

SOUTH AFRICA
Rondebosch: 12

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Arizona
Coolidge: 1

California
La Jolla: 5
Los Angeles: 7
Pasadena: 1
Stanford: 6

Colorado
Boulder: 1

Connecticut
New Haven: 4

Florida
Orlando: 1

Illinois
Chicago: 5, 10

Massachusetts
Cambridge: 1

Minnesota
Rochester: 5

Missouri
St Louis: 4

New Jersey
Princeton: 5

North Carolina
Durham: 11

Pennsylvania
Philadelphia: 2

Washington
Seattle: 4, 8

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

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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.

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Keywords associated to this article: Astrophysics, Circadian rhythms, Evolution, Photonics, Autoimmunity, Organic chemistry, Geoscience, Microbiology, reptile evolution
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