Chimps show social conformity, New plant gene could help allay concerns over GM crops, Unwinding Fanconi anemia , Avoiding new food allergens

NATURE AND THE NATURE RESEARCH JOURNALS - Press release for papers that will be published online on 21 August 2005


For papers that will be published online on 21 August 2005

* Chimps show social conformity - Nature
* New plant gene could help allay concerns over GM crops - Nature Biotechnology
* Unwinding Fanconi anemia - Nature Genetics and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
* Avoiding new food allergens - Nature Immunology


[1] Chimps show social conformity

DOI: 10.1038/nature04047

New feeding techniques can spread rapidly among chimpanzee communities
through a process of 'social conformism', according to a study published
online this week by Nature. This discovery highlights the importance of
cultural transmission - the passing of new knowledge or skills between
individuals through social interaction - in these apes, and suggests that
the propensity for social conformism in humans may have ancient evolutionary
Andrew Whiten and his colleagues studied three groups of chimpanzees at the
Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. For two of the
groups, they privately taught a high-ranking female to use a feeding
apparatus called the 'pan-pipes', using a tool in either a lifting or a
poking technique to obtain a food reward. The third group was not given any
training by humans.
The researchers then allowed each chimpanzee group access to the feeding
apparatus. Other chimpanzees observed the senior female's technique and
generally were quick to copy it, showing that they can learn skills in the
absence of direct human tuition. The 'poke' method was more effective, as
shown by the fact that several members of the 'lift' group independently
discovered and adopted the 'poke' technique. But despite this, the 'lift'
group retained its overall bias towards the 'lift' method, showing that
social conformity is important in maintaining patterns of social behaviour.

Author contact:
Andrew Whiten (University of St Andrews, Fife, UK)
Tel: +44 1334 462073, E-mail: [email protected]
Please note - there are additional resources for this paper on the relevant
section of the Nature press site.

Other papers from Nature to be published online at the same time and with
the same embargo:

[2] Crystal structure of the RNA component of bacterial ribonuclease P
DOI: 10.1038/nature04074

******************NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY**********************

[3] New plant gene could help allay concerns over GM crops

DOI: 10.1038/nbt1134

A newly identified plant gene that could change the way we develop GM plants
is reported in the September issue of Nature Biotechnology. The naturally
antibiotic resistant gene, found in thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana),
could provide a strong alternative to current practices, say Neal Stewart
and colleagues.
Traditionally, GM plants have been engineered with bacterial
antibiotic resistance markers (ARMs) to help effectively identify which
seedlings have taken up transgenes. The successful plants grow because of
their resistance to antibiotics. This method of 'hooking up'
antibiotic-resistance genes to transgenes of interest has been widely used
in plant research since the 1980s. One major, theoretical health and safety
concern over this practice has been the potential for 'reverse' horizontal
gene transfer (HGT) back to bacteria - ingesting GM plants could increase
our immunity to the antibiotics used in this engineering process.
The thale cress gene AtWBC19 has the potential to be used in place
of bacterial ARMs, say the authors. Overexpression of this gene causes
resistance to the common antibiotic kanamycin in tobacco plants. Belonging
to a group of proteins that specialise in capturing and evicting toxins in
plants, AtWBC19 works as effectively against kanamycin as conventional
bacterial resistance genes - such as the nptII gene (neomycin
phosphotransferase II) from Escherichia coli. Because of the difference in
cell structure and the mechanisms that drive both bacterial and plant cells,
the team say that it is highly unlikely that acquisition of the gene by a
bacterium could confer antibiotic resistance.
As a plant gene destined for use in plants, AtWBC19 overcomes theoretical
concerns over the combination of genetic material across kingdom boundaries.
Also, AtWBC19 may prove a valuable substitute for nptII in the development
of soybean, cotton, Brassica and Solanaceae crops (cabbage and potato family
crops), as well as some forest tree species, argue the researchers.

Author contact:
Neal Stewart (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA)
Tel: +1 865 974 7324, E-mail: [email protected]
Please note - there are additional resources for this paper on the relevant
section of the Nature press site.

Additional contact for comment on paper:
Philip Rea (University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA)
Tel: +1 215 898 0807, E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Biotechnology to be published online at the same
time and with the same embargo:

[4] Genome sequence of the chlorinated compound-respiring bacterium
Dehalococcoides species strain CBDB1
DOI: 10.1038/nbt1131

**************NATURE GENETICS**************************
(<>) and


[5] - [9] Unwinding Fanconi anemia

[5] DOI: 10.1038/ng1624
[6] DOI: 10.1038/ng1625
[7] DOI: 10.1038/ng1626
[8] DOI: 10.1038/ng1627
[9] DOI: 10.1038/nsmb981

A series of five related papers published in the September issues of Nature
Genetics and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology describe two new genes
associated with Fanconi anemia, acting in the Fanconi anemia tumor
suppressor pathway. Together, these studies provide insight into the
mechanism underlying the chromosomal instability that characterizes the
Fanconi anemia is an inherited anemia that predisposes to bone marrow
failure and cancer, with many individuals developing acute myelogenous
leukemia (AML) at an early age. Fanconi anemia is a rare pediatric
disorder, typically diagnosed in children age 2 - 15 years, with varied
expected survival ranging from 2 to 25 years.
Cells from individuals with Fanconi anemia have been characterized as highly
sensitive to chromosomal breakage, suggesting that there may be a deficiency
in repairing damaged DNA. The two new genes implicated in the Fanconi
anemia pathway encode proteins that interact directly with DNA and are
involved in DNA unwinding. This provides clues into the mechanism by which
the complex of related Fanconi anemia genes recognize and processes damaged

Author contacts:
Arleen D. Auerbach (The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 327 7533, E-mail: [email protected] paper no: [7]

Hans Joenje (VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Tel: +31 20 4448270 / 73, E-mail: [email protected] paper no: [8]

Weidong Wang (National Institute of Aging, Baltimore, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 410 558 8334, E-mail: [email protected] paper no: [9]

Dr. Kevin Hiom (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK)
Tel: +44 1223 402030, E-mail: [email protected] paper no: [10]

Katen Patel (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK)PNAC
Tel: +44 1223 402315, E-mail: [email protected] paper no: [11]

Additional contact for comment on this research:
Larry H. Thompson (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA,
Tel: +1 925 422 5658, E-mail: [email protected]

Other papers from Nature Structural & Molecular Biology to be published
online at the same time and with the same embargo:

[10] Evolution from DNA to RNA recognition by the bI3 LAGLIDADG maturase
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb976

[11] Model for growth hormone receptor activation based on subunit rotation
within a receptor dimer
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb977

[12] Idiosyncratic tuning of tRNAs to achieve uniform ribosome binding
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb978

[13] Translation elongation factor 1A is essential for regulation of the
actin cytoskeleton and cell morphology
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb979

[14] RNA splicing promotes translation and RNA surveillance
DOI: 10.1038/nsmb980

***************NATURE IMMUNOLOGY*************************

[15] Avoiding new food allergens

DOI: 10.1038/ni0905-857

The genetic modification of plants provides a necessary solution for feeding
the ever-increasing world population. However, manipulating the genetic
makeup of plants may inadvertently result in the production of new proteins
that can cause allergy. In a Commentary in this month's Nature Immunology,
Dean Metcalfe discusses the steps taken to detect such new food allergens
from genetically modified plants and also discusses the limitations of these
safeguard measures.
Because we still do not have a precise understanding of what makes certain
food items allergenic, it is important to take appropriate steps to detect
potential new allergens. In 1996, the relevant governing agencies across the
globe proposed a set of guidelines for testing for food allergens from
genetically modified plants. This set of guidelines was revised in 2001. As
Metcalfe points out however, at present individual evaluations such as
testing on animals or looking for similarity to proteins that might be
allergenic are not fail-safe. Although these assessments will improve with
advances in the underlying scientific understanding of allergy induction,
Metcalfe reinforces the idea that the best way forward is a combination of
many analyses.

Author contact:
Dean D. Metcalfe (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 496 2165, E-mail: [email protected]

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


[16] From anisotropic photo-fluidity towards nanomanipulation in the optical
DOI: 10.1038/nmat1459

[17] X-ray-diffraction characterization of Pt(111) surface nanopatterning
induced by C60 adsorption
DOI: 10.1038/nmat1456

[18] Reproducible on-off switching of solid-state luminescence by
controlling molecular packing through heat-mode interconversion
DOI: 10.1038/nmat1454


[19] Bag1 is essential for differentiation and survival of hematopoietic and
neuronal cells
DOI: 10.1038/nn1524

[20] Opponent appetitive-aversive neural processes underlie predictive
learning of pain relief
DOI: 10.1038/nn1527

[21] Auditory thalamus integrates visual inputs into behavioral gains
DOI: 10.1038/nn1528

[22] Activation of GPCRs modulates quantal size in chromaffin cells through
Gbetagamma and PKC
DOI: 10.1038/nn1529

[23] Structural and functional asymmetry of lateral Heschl's gyrus reflects
pitch perception preference
DOI: 10.1038/nn1530


[24] Listeria hijacks the clathrin-dependent endocytic machinery to invade
mammalian cells
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1292

[25] PDGFRbeta+ perivascular progenitor cells in tumours regulate pericyte
differentiation and vascular survival
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1288

[26] Clusterin inhibits apoptosis by interacting with activated Bax
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1291

[27] Phospho-caveolin-1 mediates integrin-regulated membrane domain
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1293



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.

Fitzroy: 13
Nedlands: 13
St. Lucia: 13

Innsbruck: 21

Vancouver: 14

Beijing: 3, 24
Guangzhou: 3
Hong Kong: 3
Shanghai: 24

Grenoble: 19
Paris: 26

Berlin: 6
Berlin-Dahlem: 6
Bonn: 18
Dusseldorf: 7
Heidelberg: 25
Potsdam: 18
Stuttgart: 19
Wuerzburg: 7, 21

Rome: 19, 22
Trento: 19
Trieste: 19

Kawaguchi: 23
Tokyo: 20
Toyama: 23
Tsukuba: 23

Amsterdam: 8, 9
Leiden: 8
Maastricht: 25

Bydgoszcz: 8
Poznan: 14

Madrid: 7, 29

Cambridge: 8, 10, 11
Fife: 1
Liverpool: 25
London: 8, 9, 22
Southampton: 25

La Jolla: 21, 27, 29
Pasadena: 22
San Francisco: 27
Atlanta: 1
Chicago: 2
Evanston: 2, 14
Rockville: 3
Frederick: 4
Baltimore: 9
Bethesda: 4, 17, 24
Ann Arbor: 28
St. Louis: 24
New Jersey
Piscataway: 15
New York
Ithaca: 6
New York: 7
North Carolina
Chapel Hill: 12
Research Triangle Park: 12
Cincinnati: 9
Portland: 9
University Park: 2
Knoxville: 5
Dallas: 29
Houston: 4, 16
Charlottesville: 29


For media inquiries relating to embargo policy for all the Nature Research

Katharine Mansell (Nature London)
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

For media inquiries relating to editorial content/policy for the Nature
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Bernd Pulverer
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Nature Chemical Biology (Boston)
Beatrice Chrystall
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Nature Genetics (New York)
Orli Bahcall
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Nature Immunology (New York)
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Published: 21 Aug 2005

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