Genetics: A rose by any other gene

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Biochemical pay dirt in Nature Chemical Biology, Delicate and dynamic immunological equilibrium in Nature Immunology and Many targets – one tube in Nature Methods


For papers that will be published online on 16 September 2007

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

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Genetics: A rose by any other gene - Nature

Biochemical pay dirt – Nature Chemical Biology

Delicate and dynamic immunological equilibrium – Nature Immunology

Many targets – one tube – Nature Methods

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

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Genetics: A rose by any other gene

DOI: 10.1038/nature06162

Genetic variation in just one single odorant receptor can affect an individual's experience of smells, as well as their sensitivity to them. Researchers screened ~400 human odorant receptors for response to 66 odours and combined these results with those from over 300 genetically varied subjects who were asked for their perceptions of the same compounds.

Leslie Vosshall and colleagues report in Nature this week that the receptor OR7D4 is selectively activated by androstenone, a steroid that some believe is a human pheromone, but not by the 64 other odours or by two solvents. Variations in the gene encoding OR7D4 affected how the subjects thought the androstenone smelt — some found it pleasant, others offensive, yet it remained odourless to others — and also how intense that smell was.


Leslie Vosshall (Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 327 7236; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[2] Plasmacytoid dendritic cells sense self-DNA coupled with antimicrobial peptide

DOI: 10.1038/nature06116

[3]The structural basis of Holliday junction resolution by T7 endonuclease I

DOI: 10.1038/nature06158

[4]Crystal structure of T4 endonuclease VII resolving a Holliday junction

DOI: 10.1038/nature06152

*************************************NATURE CHEMICAL BIOLOGY ***********************************

[5] Biochemical pay dirt

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2007.29

Both halves of a protein, previously thought to operate with one half inactive, are required to produce ‘earth odour’, according to a paper in the November issue of Nature Chemical Biology. Geosmin – the chemical that is responsible for the smell of freshly ploughed soil – is produced by a number of micro-organisms. Although the chemical structure of geosmin has been known since 1965, the way it is made by these organisms has been difficult to decipher. Because geosmin causes an undesirable musty smell in water, wine and food products, understanding the biosynthesis of this earthy odour, beyond its chemical interest, may help in efforts to prevent musty food and drink.

David E. Cane and colleagues have now determined important details in the biosynthesis of geosmin. They did this by altering specific amino acids in the enzyme responsible for producing geosmin and chemically characterizing the enzymatic products of these ‘mutant’ enzymes. the authors demonstrated that one half of the protein catalyzes the formation of an intermediate chemical and then the other half of the protein turns this intermediate into geosmin.

Author contact:

David E. Cane, (Brown University, Providence, RI, USA)

Tel: +1 401 863 3588, E-mail: [email protected]

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

[6] Delicate and dynamic immunological equilibrium

DOI: 10.1038/ni1511

Immune cells patrolling the microbe-rich intestine are able to ‘tolerate’ harmless, microorganisms while attacking and eliminating potentially dangerous pathogens. Work published online this week in Nature Immunology deepens our understanding of how this process occurs.

Previous work implicates immune cells called regulatory T cells in enforcing immunological tolerance to harmless or ‘commensal’ gut microbes. Bali Pulendran and colleagues pinpointed particular populations of gut ‘accessory’ cells called macrophages and dendritic cells which, although located adjacent to each other in the gut mucosa, exert opposite immune functions. Macrophages promote production of regulatory T cells, whereas dendritic cells elicit development of potentially pathogenic non-regulatory T cells capable of releasing pro-inflammatory mediators.

Complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating this likely dynamic cooperation among accessory cell populations in the gut awaits further investigation.

Author contact:

Bali Pulendran (Emory Vaccine Center, Atlanta, GA, USA)

Tel: +1 404 727 8945; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[7] ‘Coreceptor tuning’: cytokine signals transcriptionally tailor CD8 coreceptor expression to the self-specificity of the TCR

DOI: 10.1038/ni1512

********************************************NATURE METHODS******************************************

[8] Many targets – one tube

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1091

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a powerful method to specifically amplify stretches of DNA from the complex background of the genome. This week Nature Methods presents a strategy to increase the number of targets that are amplified in one reaction.

PCR requires two primers for every DNA sequence to be amplified, one on each end. Since these primer sequences are unique to the target region, in theory, primers for many different targets could be used simultaneously in the same PCR reaction, also known as a multiplex reaction. In practice the presence of multiple primers leads to unspecific priming and the formation of primer-dimers, both of which produce artifacts and severely limit the efficacy of the amplification.

To minimize these limitations Anthony Brookes and colleagues developed a solid-phase amplification method, where primers are physically separated from each other by immobilization on a solid surface. The authors show that this MegaPlex-PCR strategy can amplify 75 genomic regions selected at random. They also demonstrate that no complicated pre-selection of primers is needed, and primers against any sequence of choice yield high quality results.

MegaPlex PCR will be of interest to researchers needing to amplify many different regions, such as exons or promoters, from complex genomes in a single reaction.

Author contact:

Anthony Brookes (University of Leicester, UK)

Tel: +44 116 252 3401; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[9] Speed-mapping quantitative trait loci using microarrays

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1084


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


[10] Lasing in metallic-coated nanocavities

DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2007.171

Nature PHYSICS (

[11] Spin dynamics in the pseudogap state of a high-temperature superconductor

DOI: 10.1038/nphys720

[12] Imaging the two gaps of the high-temperature superconductor Bi2Sr2CuO6+x

DOI: 10.1038/nphys725


[13] Large triangular single crystals formed by mild annealing of self-organized silver nanocrystals

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2004

[14] A microdiffraction set-up for nanoporous metal–organic-framework-type solids

DOI: 10.1038/nmat1991

[15] Epitaxial integration of the highly spin-polarized ferromagnetic semiconductor EuO with silicon and GaN

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2012


[16] Highly selective dispersion of single-walled carbon nanotubes using aromatic polymers

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.290

[17] Highly scalable non-volatile and ultra-low-power phase-change nanowire memory

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.291

[18] Magnetic exchange bias of more than 1 Tesla in a natural mineral intergrowth

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.292

[19] Controlling optical gain in semiconducting polymers with nanoscale chain positioning and alignment

DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2007.294


[20] Central control of bone remodeling by neuromedin U

DOI: 10.1038/nm1640

[21] Mutational loss of PTEN induces resistance to NOTCH1 inhibition in T-cell leukemia

DOI: 10.1038/nm1636

[22] 27-Hydroxycholesterol is an endogenous SERM that inhibits the cardiovascular effects of estrogen

DOI: 10.1038/nm1641


[23] Exploiting lymphatic transport and complement activation in nanoparticle vaccines

DOI: 10.1038/nbt1332

[24] Mechanisms and optimization of in vivo delivery of lipophilic siRNAs

DOI: 10.1038/nbt1339

[25] A simple selection strategy for evolving highly efficient enzymes

DOI: 10.1038/nbt1341


[26] Discovery of expression QTLs using large-scale transcriptional profiling in human lymphocytes

DOI: 10.1038/ng2119

[27] A genome-wide association study of global gene expression

DOI: 10.1038/ng2109

[28] Population genomics of human gene expression

DOI: 10.1038/ng2142

[29] A high-resolution atlas of nucleosome occupancy in yeast

DOI: 10.1038/ng2117


[30] Stargazin attenuates intracellular polyamine block of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors
DOI: 10.1038/nn1966

[31] Neurons in monkey visual area V2 encode combinations of orientations
DOI: 10.1038/nn1975

[32] Early visual deprivation impairs multisensory interactions in humans
DOI: 10.1038/nn1978

[33] A complexin fusion clamp regulates spontaneous neurotransmitter release and synaptic growth
DOI: 10.1038/nn1980

[34] Optimal sensorimotor transformations for balance
DOI: 10.1038/nn1986


[35] Structural determinants of RNA recognition and cleavage by Dicer

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1293

[36] E2-BRCA1 RING interactions dictate synthesis of mono- or specific polyubiquitin chain linkages

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1295

[37] Failsafe nonsense-mediated mRNA decay does not detectably target eIF4E-bound mRNA

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1297

[38] The structure of bacterial ParM filaments

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1300



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.

Crawley: 26
Geelong: 26

Waurn Ponds: 26

Vienna: 7


Toronto: 21, 29


Evry : 27


Grenoble: 14

Paris: 13

Versailles: 14


Ausberg: 15

Bayreuth: 18

Düsseldorf: 2, 32

Garching: 15

Hamburg: 32

Heidelberg: 4

Julich: 15

Kiel: 2

Marburg: 32

Padua: 21


Fukuoka: 20

Miyagi : 21

Osaka: 20

Nagoya : 12, 37

Saitama: 20

Tokyo: 19, 10


Daejeon : 10

Seoul : 37


Eindhoven : 10


Trondheim: 18


Chernogolovka: 15


Singapore: 23


Alicante: 21


Lausanne: 23

Zurich: 24, 25


Taipei: 16


Istanbul: 7


Cambridge: 18, 28

Dundee: 3

Leeds: 3

Leicester: 8

London: 2, 14, 27, 30

Oxford: 16, 27

Porton Down: 27



Berkeley: 35

Los Angeles: 19

Palo Alto: 29

San Francisco: 2, 38

Stanford: 28, 29


New Haven: 2, 9


Atlanta: 6, 34


Ames: 12


Baltimore: 9

Bethesda: 4, 7, 9

Frederick: 7


Boston: 9

Cambridge: 12, 24, 33


Ann Arbor: 27


Minneapolis: 18


St Louis: 31, 38


Bozeman: 15

New York

Albany: 29

Ithaca: 15

New York: 1, 21, 22, 23, 24

Rochester: 31, 37

North Carolina

Davidson: 7

Durham: 1

Raleigh: 9

Triangle Park: 22


Philadelphia: 7, 17

University Park: 15,

Rhode Island

Providence: 5


Dallas: 22

Houston: 2, 31

San Antonio: 26


Salt Lake City: 21


Charlottesville: 38


Seattle: 36


Milwaukee: 26


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Published: 16 Sep 2007

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