Antarctic ice losses

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Receptor signalling in pairs, To mend a failing heart, Seven novel loci for plasma lipid levels, Genetics of height and bone disease, Sleep provides a window into memory, Seeing how viruses encounter immune cells and Transmitting HIV through T cell nanotubes


For papers that will be published online on 13 January 2008

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

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Antarctic ice losses – Nature Geoscience
Receptor signalling in pairs – Nature Chemical Biology
To mend a failing heart – Nature Medicine
Seven novel loci for plasma lipid levels – Nature Genetics
Genetics of height and bone disease – Nature Genetics
Sleep provides a window into memory – Nature Neuroscience
Seeing how viruses encounter immune cells – Nature Immunology
Transmitting HIV through T cell nanotubes – Nature Cell Biology

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

· Geographical listing of authors

PDFs of all the papers mentioned on this release can be found in the relevant journal’s section of Press contacts for the Nature journals are listed at the end of this release.

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****************************************NATURE GEOSCIENCE*****************************************

[1] Antarctic ice losses

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo102

Increasing amounts of ice mass have been lost from West Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula over the past ten years, according to research published online this week in Nature Geoscience. Meanwhile the ice mass has been roughly stable in East Antarctica, with neither loss nor accumulation over the past decade.

Eric Rignot and colleagues estimated the flux of ice from the ice sheet into the ocean from satellite data that cover 85% of Antarctica’s coastline, which they compared with simulations of snow accumulation over the same period, obtained using a regional climate model. They arrived at a best estimate of a loss of 132 billion tonnes of ice in 2006 from West Antarctica — up from about 83 billion tonnes in 1996 — and a loss of about 60 billion tonnes in 2006 from the Antarctic Peninsula.

The ice loss is concentrated at narrow glacier outlets with accelerating ice flow, which suggests that glacier flow is important for the mass balance of the entire ice sheet.

Author contact:

Eric Rignot (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, USA)

Tel. +1 818 354 1640; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[2] Importance of pre-impact crustal structure for the asymmetry of the Chicxulub impact crater

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo103

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


[3] Receptor signalling in pairs

DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.64

Scientists have discovered new information about the way that small molecules cause cell signalling, according to a paper to be published online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. This insight could have major implications in regards to how drugs are developed.

G protein–coupled receptors, or GPCRs, are major drug targets because they bind to molecules that are outside the cell, and this binding causes big changes inside the cell. This means that a potential drug doesn’t have to be able to cross the cell membrane to be active, which simplifies the design of the drug. Jean-Pierre Vilardaga and colleagues now find that, for some GPCRs that come together in pairs, the signalling by these pairs of receptors is different than signalling by a single receptor. This result will have particular relevance for scientists developing combination drugs, as the mixing of two individual small molecules may not cause the expected biological effect.

Author contact:

Jean-Pierre Vilardaga (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)

Tel: +1 617 643 3183; E-mail: [email protected]

*******************************************Nature MEDICINE********************************************


[4] To mend a failing heart

DOI: 10.1038/nm1684

A method to create an artificial heart using the remains of an actual full-sized adult heart that has been stripped of all its cells, but then replanted with neonatal heart cells, may hold promise for its eventual use in transplant surgery. The technique is reported online this week in Nature Medicine.

About 3,000 patients in the United States await a donor heart; worldwide, 22 million people live with heart failure. An artificial heart is a theoretical alternative for transplantation. Generating an artificial heart requires engineering of the cardiac architecture, appropriate cellular constituents and pump function.

Doris Taylor and colleagues removed all cells from rat hearts by bathing them with detergents. This manipulation allowed them to preserve the underlying tissue, obtaining a heart ‘scaffold’ with blood vessels, competent heart valves and intact atrial and ventricular geometry. The team then replenished the cardiac cell composition by seeding these scaffolds with neonatal cardiac cells and maintained them in culture conditions that simulated cardiac physiology. Four days later, they observed contractions and, by day 8, their constructs could generate pump function equivalent to about 2% of adult hearts.

Although the in vivo functionality of this artificial heart has yet to be explored, this approach may hold promise for its use in transplant surgery.

Author contact:

Doris Taylor (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA)
Tel: +1 612 626 1416; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[5] Targeting of antigen to the herpesvirus entry mediator augments primary adaptive immune responses

DOI: 10.1038/nm1704

[6] Ex vivo glycan engineering of CD44 programs human multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell trafficking to bone

DOI: 10.1038/nm1703

***********************************************NATURE GENETICS **************************************


[7], [8] & [9] Seven novel loci for plasma lipid levels

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.61

DOI: 10.1038/ng.76

DOI: 10.1038/ng.75

Three new genome-wide association studies report seven novel genes or loci associated with lipid levels in Nature Genetics this week. Plasma lipid levels are a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, a major cause of global mortality and morbidity.

The three papers, from teams led by James Scott, Goncalo Abecasis, and Sekar Kathiresan, each report a genome-wide association study for plasma levels, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and total plasma triglycerides. In addition to the seven novel loci found, all but one of which were replicated in independent studies, the research identifies many previously associated loci. Abecasis and colleagues also test whether the plasma lipid associated loci were associated with coronary artery disease (CAD), and find that variants associated with increased risk of LDL levels are the same as those associated with increased risk of CAD in last year’s Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium study.

While the genome-wide association studies were performed separately, Abecasis and colleagues partnered with Kathiresan and colleagues, to combine and analyze their initial genome-wide association studies. The results of the two combined genome-wide association studies and meta-analyses are reported in the paper from Abecasis and colleagues.

Author contacts:

James Scott (Imperial College, London, UK) Author paper [7]

Tel: +44 20 7594 3614; E-mail: [email protected]

Goncalo Abecasis (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA) Author paper [8]

Tel: +1 734 763 4901; E-mail: [email protected]

Sekar Kathiresan (Broad Institute and Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, USA) Author paper [9]

Tel: +1 617 861 7333; E-mail: [email protected]

[10] Genetics of height and bone disease

DOI: 10.1038/ng.74

Variants on a genetic locus related to osteoarthritis also affect the height of an individual according to research in Nature Genetics this week. The genomewide association analysis indicates that there may be a link between height and osteoarthritis, which could be mediated by alterations in bone growth and development.

Genes related to height in the general population have previously been identified, along with several rare genetic variants associated with height and genetic disease. Karen Mohlke and colleagues report genome wide genetic markers of around 6,500 individuals and complete a follow-up analysis of almost 30,000 people. They describe how common variants on GDF5-UQCC can affect height by around half a centimeter. This region, coupled with the previously identified HMGA2, account for a small percentage of height variant, with more than 80% still unexplained.

It seems likely that many of the variants influencing height will have similarly small effects but follow up research could be relevant not just to height but to musculoskeletal or other diseases.

Author contact:

Karen Mohlke (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA)

Tel: +1 919 966 2913; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[11] Genome-wide analysis of transcript isoform variation in humans

DOI: 10.1038/ng.2007.57

*******************************************NATURE NEUROSCIENCE ***********************************


[12] Sleep provides a window into memory

DOI: 10.1038/nn2037

Patterns of brain activity while awake can shape the formation of neuron connections during sleep according to a study in Nature Neuroscience this week. Two simultaneously active neurons in an awakened animal can determine whether an association will be formed between these same two neurons while it is asleep.

Jozsef Csicsvari and colleagues studied rats whilst exploring their environment and during sleep and recorded the activity of neurons in their hippocampus, an area implicated in memory formation Across pairs of cells, the authors looked for brief intervals in which both cells fired an action potential. They found that the firing rate correlations for pairs that fired together more frequently, increased in the sleep period after exploration when compared to sleep prior to this exploring behavior. The authors also looked at intervals in which only one of the two cells fired, and this single cell activity decreased the firing rate correlations between pairs of neurons.

Although previously studied in tissue culture, this paper provides evidence suggesting the same effect may occur in live animals.

Author contact:

Jozsef Csicsvari (University of Oxford, UK)

Tel: +44 1865 281130; Email: [email protected]

Additional contact for comment on paper:

Douglas Nitz (The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, CA, USA)
Tel: +1 858 626 2115; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[13] Ephrin-B reverse signaling promotes structural and functional synaptic maturation in vivo
DOI: 10.1038/nn2033

[14] Two hierarchically organized neural systems for object information in human visual cortex
DOI: 10.1038/nn2036

[15] Integrating motion and depth via parallel pathways
DOI: 10.1038/nn2039

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


[16] Seeing how viruses encounter immune cells

DOI: 10.1038/ni1557

Getting a virus infection often begins by inhaling virus that someone else sneezes out into the air; but where in the body do immune cells come into contact with viruses to initiate effective immune responses? A study in the February issue of Nature Immunology uncovers a surprising answer that may help to create effective anti-viral vaccines.

A group led by Jon Yewdell use a technique called intravital microscopy, which allows visualization of intact tissues and their cellular constituents, to see where two different types of viruses first encounter immune cells. Focusing on lymph nodes, pea-sized tissues containing different types of immune cells, the group found that rather than encountering immune cells deep within the lymph node, as most previous work has indicated, viruses encounter immune cells just under the lymph node outer capsule. Specialized immune cells called T lymphocytes migrate to this outer region and become activated to trigger antiviral responses.

Pinpointing exactly where in the body immune cells become activated to fight against infecting pathogens, as this new work does, may aid in the design of effective anti-viral vaccines.

Author contact:

Jonathan Yewdell (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA)

Tel: +1 301 402 4602; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[17] CD160 inhibits activation of human CD4+ T cells through interaction with herpesvirus entry mediator

DOI: 10.1038/ni1554

*******************************************NATURE CELL BIOLOGY ************************************


[18] Transmitting HIV through T cell nanotubes

DOI: 10.1038/ncb1682

Membrane nanotubes formed by contact between immune T-cells significantly increase transmission efficiency of HIV between infected and uninfected cells. The study, published online this week in Nature Cell Biology may explain why neutralizing antibodies fail to prevent persistent viral spread.

HIV infectivity during cell to cell viral transmission is 100–1000 times more efficient than infection with virus from outside of the cell. Daniel Davis and colleagues identify of a novel route for HIV-1 infection through nanotubes between T cells – a type of white blood cell important for cell-mediated immunity. Once formed, T-cell nanotubes maintain a dynamic junction between cells but HIV-1 can cross this junction and infect the new cell.

The ability of HIV-1 to spread between cells is a major determinant of virulence; therefore identification of this new route could provide new targets for HIV-therapeutic drugs.

Author contact:

Daniel Davis (Imperial College London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 594 5420; E-mail: [email protected]

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

[19] Intra-axonal translation and retrograde trafficking of CREB promotes neuronal survival
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1677

[20] Wingless secretion requires endosome-to-Golgi retrieval of Wntless–Evi–Sprinter by the retromer complex

DOI: 10.1038/ncb1678

[21] The microRNAs miR-373 and miR-520c promote tumour migration and metastasis
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1681

[22] AKR2A-mediated import of chloroplast outer membrane proteins is essential for chloroplast biogenesis

DOI: 10.1038/ncb1683

[23] TBL1–TBLR1 and beta-catenin mutually recruited to Wnt target-gene promoter for transcription activation and oncogenesis

DOI: 10.1038/ncb1684

[24] Wingless secretion promotes and requires retromer-dependent cycling of Wntless
DOI: 10.1038/ncb1687


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


[25] Non-reciprocal ultrafast laser writing


Nature PHYSICS (

[26] Accurate theoretical fits to laser-excited photoemission spectra in the normal phase of high-temperature superconductors

DOI: 10.1038/nphys833

[27] Enhanced reaction kinetics in biological cells

DOI: 10.1038/nphys830

[28] Triplet supercurrents in clean and disordered half-metallic ferromagnets

DOI: 10.1038/nphys831


[29] Tuning fulleride electronic structure and molecular ordering via variable layer index

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2100

[30] Giant spin Hall effect in perpendicularly spin-polarized FePt/Au devices

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2098

[31] Gas-induced transformation and expansion of a non-porous organic solid

DOI: 10.1038/nmat2097


[32] Bottom-up assembly of large-area nanowire resonator arrays



[33] Superwobbling facilitates translation with reduced tRNA sets

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1370

[34] The functional response of upstream DNA to dynamic supercoiling in vivo

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1372

[35] Identification of DNA primase template tracking site redefines the geometry of primer synthesis

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1373

[36] Polypyrimidine tract binding protein controls the transition from exon definition to an intron defined spliceosome

DOI: 10.1038/nsmb1375


[37] Pyrobayes: an improved base caller for SNP discovery in pyrosequences

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1172

[38] Plasmid-chromosome shuffling for non-deletion alleles in yeast

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1173

[39] High-density mapping of single-molecule trajectories with photoactivated localization microscopy

DOI: 10.1038/nmeth1176



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.

London: 15

Montreal: 11

Toronto: 11


Valdivia: 1


Helsinki: 8, 9, 10

Joensuu: 25

Bobigny: 8

Evry: 8

Paris: 8, 27

Karlsruhe: 28

Potsdam-Golm: 33

Wurzburg: 3

Cagliari: 8, 10

Turin: 21

Sendai: 30

Tokyo: 30


Published: 13 Jan 2008

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