Deep-sea species in critical danger from overfishing; How viruses pack their punch; The farthest moon; Single stem cell can form milk-producing mammary glands; Greenhouse conditions triggered deep-ocean circulation shift;

Summaries of newsworthy papers from Nature. Vol.438 No.7072 Dated 5 January 2006 including Cancer: Caspase-8 as a metastasis suppressor gene; Nanoparticles assemble themselves and Bees show how pollen and nectar collectors diverge.


This press release is copyright Nature. VOL.438 NO.7072 DATED 5 JANUARY 2006

This press release contains:
* Summaries of newsworthy papers:
* Fisheries: Deep-sea species in critical danger from overfishing
* Infectious disease: How viruses pack their punch
* Astronomy: The farthest moon
* Cancer: Caspase-8 as a metastasis suppressor gene
* Cell biology: Single stem cell can form milk-producing mammary glands
* Materials science: Nanoparticles assemble themselves
* Climate change: Greenhouse conditions triggered deep-ocean circulation shift
* And finally: Bees show how pollen and nectar collectors diverge
* Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo
* Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Fisheries: Deep-sea species in critical danger from overfishing (p29)

Many of the Atlantic's deep-sea fish have been driven to the brink of extinction within a single generation as a result of fishing, a new analysis of research-survey data has found. The fish, a mixture of commercially fished species and those snared accidentally as by-catch, have been
virtually wiped out since the advent of large-scale deepwater commercial fishing in the 1970s.
Populations have plummeted so rapidly that the five fish species surveyed - roundnose grenadier, onion-eye grenadier, blue hake, spiny eel and spinytail skate - should now be classified as critically endangered, according to the guidelines laid down by the international conservation organization IUCN. During a 17-year period from 1978 to 1994, numbers of these fish in Canadian waters crashed by 89-98%. These fish are slow growing, typically live for 60 years and do not reach sexual maturity until their late teens, meaning that they are particularly vulnerable to overfishing, explain Jennifer Devine and colleagues in a Brief Communication in this week's Nature. They estimate that over three generations (the IUCN benchmark for determining endangered status), the current level of fishing will eliminate more than 99% of the original populations of these species. They therefore call for urgent and immediate action to relieve the pressure on deep-sea fish species.

Jennifer Devine (Memorial University, St. John's, Canada)
Tel: +1 709 737 8833, E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Infectious disease: How viruses pack their punch (pp38-44)

Enveloped viruses infect cells in a process during which their membranes fuse with that of the cell. Influenza and HIV represent two examples of such viruses, as do paramyxoviruses, which include mumps, measles and parainfluenza virus 5, among others. Researchers now report that they have
obtained the crystal structure of an important membrane protein that belongs to the parainfluenza virus 5. This 'F protein' in fact facilitates the merger of the viral and cellular envelopes. The findings appear this week in Nature. According to Theodore Jardetzky and his co-authors, the crystal structure shows that the viral F protein undergoes profound conformational changes between its pre- and post-fusion states. Their results also indicate that F protein structural changes are very different from those observed in influenza HA, which is the only other class I viral fusion protein for which scientists have both pre- and post-fusion structures. The researchers say that this clarification of paramyxovirus machinery should help medical experts design better drugs for preventing infections.

Theodore Jardetzky (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 467 4048, E-mail: [email protected]

[3] & [4] Astronomy: The farthest moon (pp48-51 & pp52-54; N&V)

What's the difference between a planet and a big lump of rock? Astronomers are currently worrying over this riddle in the wake of the recent discovery of an object called 2003 UB313 in the outer Solar System, which has been proposed as a tenth planet. In this week's issue of Nature, two teams probe the nature of a better-known 'candidate planet', the 'moon' Charon that
orbits around Pluto. They have looked for signs of an atmosphere around Charon - something that might constitute at least a partial definition of a planet. Both teams conclude that Charon, unlike Pluto, doesn't really have a gaseous mantle at all. Charon, discovered in 1978, is about half the size of Pluto, so some researchers suggest that the Pluto/Charon system is better regarded as a
double planet rather than a planet and its moon. No one knows, however, how this duo formed: might Pluto have 'captured' Charon from the rocky debris of the outer Solar System called the Kuiper belt, or might the two objects have formed together when another body hit a ball of rock and dust? Knowing more about Charon's atmosphere could help to answer these questions.
The two teams have investigated Charon by watching it pass in front of a distant star. If the moon has an atmosphere, the light will be cut off gradually; but a bare ball of rock will produce a sharper cut-off. Amanda Gulbis and colleagues, and Bruno Sicardy and co-workers, used telescopes in
South America to observe such an occultation event in July 2005. Both groups conclude that Charon has virtually no atmosphere. They also obtain an improved estimate of the moon's size, which has previously been rather poorly pinned down: it has a radius of about 603-606 km, the researchers say. A related News & Views article by David. J. Tholen accompanies this research.

Amanda Gulbis (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 253 1785, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [3]

Bruno Sicardy (Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France)
Tel: +33 1 45 07 71 15, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [4]

David. J. Tholen (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA)
Tel: +1 808 948 6930, E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Cancer: Caspase-8 as a metastasis suppressor gene (pp95-99)

Neuroblastoma, the most common paediatric solid tumour, often begins in the nerve tissue above the kidneys. By the time doctors diagnose the illness, the cancer has usually spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, bones, liver and skin. Understanding what drives this process of metastasis has been the focus of much research. Now, a study appearing in this week's Nature sheds light on this aspect of neuroblastoma progression. David Cheresh and his colleagues show that decreased production of the enzyme caspase-8 accompanies the metastasis of neuroblastoma in vivo. They further demonstrate that reconstituting the expression of this enzyme can suppress the spread of the cancer by inducing the death of invasive cells at tumour margins. These findings support the idea that caspase-8 regulates the survival and invasive capacity of neuroblastoma cells.

David Cheresh (University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, La
Jolla, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 858 822 2232, E-mail: [email protected]

[6] & [7] Cell biology: Single stem cell can form milk-producing mammary glands (pp84-88)
and DOI: 10.1038/nature04496

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 4 January 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 5 January, but at a later date.***

Scientists have for the first time isolated individual mammary gland stem cells that can regenerate an entire milk-producing mammary gland in mice. In this week's Nature, Jane Visvader and colleagues show that this cell has two hallmark properties of stem cells. It can renew itself, maintaining a population of stem cells, and it can also form the different cell types of the mammary gland. In another first, they identified certain molecular cell surface markers to allow them to identify the prospective stem cells. They labelled and transplanted the cells to different mice to show that the cells were capable of developing into mammary glands. These stem cells were more numerous in precancerous breast tissue in a mouse cancer model, suggesting that they may
be involved in causing cancer. In an accompanying paper, published online, Connie Eaves and colleagues also isolate mammary stem cells from mice and come to similar conclusions. The
findings could help researchers to understand better what goes wrong when mammary cells become cancerous in humans, for example in breast cancer.

Jane Visvader (The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Australia)
Tel: +61 3 9342 8633, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [6]

Connie Eaves (Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, Canada)
Tel: +1 604 675 8122, E-mail: [email protected] - paper no: [7] (DOI: 10.1038/nature4496)

[8] Materials science: Nanoparticles assemble themselves (pp55-59)

Nanoparticles can assemble themselves into a bewildering array of three-dimensional structures, according to research in this week's Nature. Dmitri Talapin and colleagues used combinations of semiconducting, metallic and magnetic nanoparticles, just billionths of a metre across, as the
building blocks in large lattices, similar to the arrangements of atoms in a crystal. Mixtures of two different types of nanoparticles could stack up in a range of patterns. The arrangements the nanoparticles adopt can be modified by varying their properties, such as electrical charge, size and
shape, raising the possibility that similar tactics could be used to create new self-assembled multifunctional materials.

Dmitri Talapin (IBM Research Division, T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 914 945 1740, E-mail: [email protected]

[9] Climate change: Greenhouse conditions triggered deep-ocean circulation shift (pp60-63)

A rapid rise in global temperatures some 55 million years ago caused the deep circulation of the oceans to shift, according to research published in this week's Nature. Flavia Nunes and Richard D. Norris looked at the amounts of different carbon isotopes in samples from 14 ocean sites around the world. The proportions of these isotopes reveal which direction ocean currents travelled before, during and after the Palaeocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum. They found that over a period of 40,000 years, the direction of deep-ocean circulation shifted. Previously, deep water upwelled in the Southern Hemisphere, but after a period of global warming the source of this upwelling moved to the Northern Hemisphere. The ocean circulation system recovered eventually, after another 100,000 years. The Palaeocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum provides an extreme analogue for
present-day warming on the Earth, and the authors suggest that it could hold clues about the consequences of global warming today.

Flavia Nunes (University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 858 344 4972, E-mail: [email protected]

[10] And finally: Bees show how pollen and nectar collectors diverge (pp76-78)

How did worker bees develop such diverse, unselfish social behaviours? The answer seems to be that some copy more closely than others the practices of their solitary insect ancestors. Gro Amdam and colleagues studied honey bees (Apis mellifera) in which some of the worker bees forage for pollen, whereas others collect nectar. They report in this week's Nature that of these sterile workers, some are more sterile than others. They found that workers that forage for pollen have more of the reproductive hormone vitellogenin than those that collect nectar, and also leave the nest earlier in life to forage. This suggests that pollen collectors have greater reproductive capacity, even though they remain sterile, providing a potential evolutionary 'bridge' between solitary insects and their social descendants.

Gro Amdam (Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA)
Tel: +1 480 727 0895, E-mail: [email protected]


[11] Radioactive 26Al from massive stars in the Galaxy (pp45-47)

[12] Three-dimensional brittle shear fracturing by tensile crack interaction (pp64-67)

[13] Phosphonate utilization by the globally important marine diazotroph Trichodesmium (pp68-71; N&V)

[14] Mechanochemical analysis of DNA gyrase using rotor bead tracking (pp10-104)

[15] RNA translocation and unwinding mechanism of HCV NS3 helicase and its coordination by ATP (pp105-108)


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.

La Plata: 4
San Juan: 4

Melbourne: 6
Parkville: 6, 7

Brussels: 3

Belo Horizonte: 4
Parana: 3
Rio de Janeiro: 4
Fortaleza: 4

St. John's: 1
Vancouver: 6, 7

Antofagasta: 3
La Serena: 3
San Pedro de Atacama: 4
Santiago: 4

Besaoncon: 4
Floirac: 4
Gif-sur-Yvette: 11
Meudon: 4
Paris: 4
Saint Etienne: 4
Toulouse: 11

Garching near Munich: 11
Hannover: 4

Rome: 4

Noordwijk: 11

Aas: 10

San Lorenzo: 4

Sauverny: 4

Durham: 12
Liverpool: 12

Flagstaff: 3
Tempe: 10
Berkeley: 8, 11, 14, 15
Davis: 10
La Jolla: 5, 9
Stanford: 14
New Haven: 15
Evanston: 2
Boston: 6
Cambridge: 3, 14
Williamstown: 3
Woods Hole: 13
Ann Arbor: 8
New York
New York: 8
Yorktown Heights: 8
South Carolina
Clemson: 11
Memphis: 5


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

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Rinoko Asami, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Ruth Francis, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4562; E-mail [email protected]

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Published: 04 Jan 2006

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